The final installment of the Dead in the Family transcripts, which features the second half of the interview with the "Utleys".
What was the hardest part about your son becoming a zombie?
Jeff: Everything about it was hard. Everything.
Rachael: It was difficult in so many ways.
Jeff: He wasn't allowed to attend school. We had friends--ha! "Friends" who ceased all contact with us immediately.
Rachael: It was painful, watching him struggle.
Jeff: I was harassed at work. Presents left on my desk. A dead squirrel draped on the hood of my car.
Rachael: (Looks at Jeff) I think the hardest thing of all was that his brothers were scared of him, at first.
They were scared of their brother?
Rachael: (Nods) And it hurt him, I know it did, even though he didn't show it. They were cruel about the way they treated him, not intentionally, but I knew they were avoiding him.
How did you help them get over their fear? Or could you?
Rachael: We were patient and didn't try to force acceptance. We tried to make it safe for them to talk about their feelings, while at the same time including Joshua in everything we did as a family. The interaction was helping Joshua regain some control, and as he "returned" in some ways, the boys were more comfortable being with him.
Jeff: The process fed itself.
Rachael: The boys had long talks with our rabbi as well, and that helped greatly. He has been incredibly supportive. It meant so much when others were turning us away.
Jeff: It's strange. Many people ran away, couldn't get away from us fast enough, but others stepped up. Neighbors. There was a petition to the school board to allow Joshua to attend school. And we won.
So Joshua is going back to school?
Rachael: We prefer to homeschool right now. (Looks at Jeff). We're considering moving to Connecticut.
Jeff: There's a program their with the Hunter Institute which fosters inclusion of differently biotic kids in public schools. We're considering it.
Do you have any advice for other families with differently biotic children?
Jeff: Read eveything you can on the subject. The bad and the good. Skip Slydell's books are great. (Laughs) But get the bad stuff at the library; don't give any of those jerks money.
Rachael: Forming a support group with other families with differently biotic children can be very powerful. We have two other families that we meet with on a regular basis in each other's homes, and we correspond with many others on the Internet.
Jeff: (Looks at Rachael, smiles) Rachael contributes to a parenting blogring where she writes about raising a differently biotic kid.
Rachael: I think the most important thing is to love your child. Never stop loving your child. No matter what he or she does, no matter what happens, he or she is still your child. They need your love and approval. Never forget that.