“My world shattered a year ago on Oct. 2, 2017,” Delilah Rene says of the day her 18-year-old son, Zack, took his own life. From that point on, the woman who’s famous for comforting those who call in to her radio shows requesting love songs and a shoulder to cry on found that she was now the person facing heartbreak. “These have been the hardest months of my life, and that of my family,” she says. “I miss him every minute and hour of every day.”
Delilah, 58, is now sharing her grief and her journey to find healing in her new book, One Heart at a Time, in which she grapples with the loss and looks back on her life. Zack was one of her three biological kids; she also has adopted 10 others. “I believe with my whole heart everyone can help a child in need,” she says.
Sadly, she wasn’t able to help Zack, whom she calls “a live wire from day one.” By the time he was two years old, Zack had been diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. She and Zack’s father, her third husband, Douglas Ortega, got him occupational and physical therapy, but Zack struggled with depression.
After his suicide, Delilah says, “I couldn’t write, I couldn’t talk about it.” But she drew strength from her faith: “Prayer elevates me from bouts of depression, grounds me during bouts of hysteria,” she says.
In the book, she reveals how much she’s overcome, from her controlling father to divorces and the death of an adopted son from sickle cell anemia. Through it all, she never lost hope. “So many listeners sent the most beautiful thoughts and prayers,” she says.
And while she’s lost a lot in her life, Delilah appreciates all she still has, including her husband of six years, Paul Warner, her children, and all of her listeners. Says Delilah: “I can still say, ‘I’m the most blessed woman I know.’”
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