The first chapter of my book “We Are Different Now”.

For those of you who wish to read it, I am posting the first chapter of my book “We Are Different Now.”  It can be purchased at,, and or any Barnes & Noble store (may have to be ordered there).

Cover 300x444


Truthfully, I simply do not know where to start. What I do know is that there are very few books on the market for grandparents who have lost a grandchild and that it is an item that is badly needed. I have pondered the question of starting with the day Pete was born or the day he died or somewhere in between and it’s just overwhelming for me to decide. He was only 21 years old when he died and he packed so much love and living into that short span of time that the things I want to say are endless. Being a writer, I’ve never had this problem before and don’t really understand why I have this “block” that keeps coming between me knowing what needs to be done and being able to do it. I’m still trying to figure that one out. An editor can give me some obscure topic and ask me to write about it and I have no problem whatsoever. But this one really has me stumped.

My daughter suggested that I just sit down and write something every day…simply express whatever I am feeling on paper and then sort it all out later and put it into a book. She says that whatever I am feeling is what other grandparents who have lost their grandchild need to know. Since I’m certain that she is absolutely right, I can only assume that it was just too logical for me to think of it.

Nobody understands that we are the next closest people to that grandchild, other than their parents. If you are reading this and you are a grandparent, you well know how wonderful the relationship is between the grandchild and yourself. And you also know what it is to have that grandchild just suddenly snatched away from you. They are gone forever and it happened in a flash. Then we get a double whammy by not only losing someone we love so dearly, but we also have to watch our own child, in my case it is my daughter, suffer the worst pain anyone will ever experience. And it’s important to try and hold yourself together for them and be strong, so that you can do what they are simply mentally and physically unable to do at this awful time.

It has now been 17 months since Pete died and the pain isn’t as raw, but sometimes I feel that is more severe. For example, I was standing in Walmart the other day, trying to choose some silk ivy and red ornamental flowers to put up where Pete fell to his death, when I felt the tears welling up inside me. I didn’t want to burst into tears in front of all of those people, so I held it in. I also realized that this is what my daughter has been trying to explain to me about what she deals with in her job at a local bank, every single day. Frankly, I don’t know how she does it.

Later in this store, we ran into our next door neighbors that live just up the hill from us. When she noticed the flowers in my basket, she remarked about how pretty they were. When I told her that I was going to put them up where Pete fell, tears appeared in her own eyes and she told me we need to get together with a glass of wine and talk and gave me a big hug. We live in a small Colorado mountain tourist town and the people who live here with us are the most loving and caring people you could ever want to meet. Even after nearly a year and a half, they still think about my daughter and our family and Pete and what we’ve all been through together.

Were someone to ask me who had the biggest influence on my life, at my age it would be a sizable crowd out of which to choose just one person. But today I will not hesitate to say that it was my first grandchild, Pete. The night he was born was one of the most excruciating and delightful times of my life. It was difficult to see my daughter suffer so to give him birth and so indescribably joyous to hold him once he was on this earth… perfect, healthy and with the personality of an old soul right from the start. We only had him a hair over two decades, but those years were filled with so much learning and joy and laughter that it is difficult to make others understand how marvelous and wise this sweet hearted child and young man was. You had to know him and those who did understand exactly what I am saying. He came into this world on my son’s 25th birthday and he left this world on my daughter’s 49th birthday. I was 49 years old when he was born and my daughter (his mother) was 49 years old when he died.

His death was the most agonizing experience I have ever endured and it continues to be, many months later. I have learned that life is all about nothing more than love. I’ve learned that angels really do walk among us and that there is a God and a heaven. I’ve learned that when you lose someone you love so dearly, it leaves a gaping hole in your heart that will be there the rest of your own life and that you will never be the same again, as long as you live. Pete has taught me that life is precious and sometimes short and you should live it with everything you have, every single day, so that when you leave this earth, not a single person has anything bad to say about you. He did that. I see him in every rainbow, hear him in songs, feel him in a found coin, a butterfly, cloud or sunset and think of him every single day and miss him with all of my heart. He gave the world such beautiful memories because he knew what life was all about.


Someone just commented on a picture album that I posted on Facebook and, of all things, her comment told me to look at a video she posted and to share it. It was just God awful! It was nothing more than violent accidents happening on highways and killing lots of people and telling us that most people go to hell. It was so disturbing that I could not even watch it. I wrote and told her that with Pete’s death so fresh and raw, I could not deal with it and she replied that she knows I have other grandchildren and maybe I can share it with them, so they’ll learn. All of our grandchildren are adults now and, believe me, they all learned about sudden death and danger when Pete left us.

This is the sort of idiotic things that people will say that just jolt your sense of decency to the very core. I suppose she doesn’t realize how painful life becomes when you have lost a grandchild. But brace yourself, because that is just the tip of the iceberg and there will be endless, thoughtless, hurtful remarks made to you. One of my cousins, after a year had passed, informed me that she hoped that my daughter and I would realize that there is life after tragedy and that we’d focus upon other things now. Yep, hit that switch and turn off your pain. Sometimes the remarks just cut through you and other times, you are stunned at the things people think of to say to you when they have no clue what you are going through.


It probably would be good, at this time, to write down in the following chapters, what happened to my grandson. It is a long and painful story to tell, but I will do my best.

My grandson, Pete.

My grandson, Pete.

You can leave a comment for me, if you like, and thanks for stopping by.


About jtzortman

Author of "WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW" - A Grandparent's Journey Through Grief, first place award winning novel "FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST" and award-winning novel "SNOW ANGEL". Contributing author to anthologies "Felons, Flames & Ambulance Rides", "American Blue", "Recipes by the Book: Oak Tree Authors Cook" and "The Centennial Book of The National Society of Daughters of the Union 1861-1865". Numerous articles, poems and short stories published since 1990. Charter Member of the Public Safety Writers Association and member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. Winner of ten writing awards. I live in a quaint Colorado mountain tourist town with my husband and Siamese cat. When deeps snows blanket the terrain and spectacular views from my windows, it becomes the perfect spot in which to write.
This entry was posted in accidents, Book, books, Colorado, elderly readers, grief, Jackie Taylor Zortman, Oak Tree Press, Promo, spirituality. writing, Uncategorized, WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW, young readers. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The first chapter of my book “We Are Different Now”.

  1. Peggy says:

    Beautifully written. The fact there are very few books on this subject was one of the first things my sister who works in publishing said to me when I told her you wrote a book. Hugs to you.


  2. Carol Keller says:

    Even though I have read your book, I enjoyed reading this again. Think of you often, Jackie.


  3. Barbara Shepperson says:

    It’s hard for me to leave a comment due to the tears in my eyes. I’m sure that your book is a comfort to others who have lost a beloved grandchild.


  4. Mona says:

    Jackie,just read this chapter again and I can feel your pain. While we learn to live with the heartache as time passes it will always be a part of us. I am missing all my loved ones who have
    passed away very much on this special day. Especially ,my brother Edd ,who left us so suddeny two months ago. My heart hurts as I know yours does.


    • jtzortman says:

      Sorry I didn’t get back to this until this morning, Mona. Yes, we do just learn to live with the heartaches. Like my book title says, we are different now, though. The loss of your brother is so fresh right now that I’m sure you do really hurt. We’ve both had a lot of losses in our lives. Guess that’s normal as we age. I hope you feel better today. Hugs.


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