When I was nineteen, I felt like I had the entire world atmy disposal. I had just finished a successful freshman year at UNC Charlotte,made tons of friends, had a life plan, a great family, and a boyfriend I imaginedhaving in my life forever. His name was Matt, “Mattbear” to his mom and me. Hisfavorite foods were pizza, Bojangles Bo*rounds, hamburgers with mustard only,and Mountain Dew. He went to UNC Wilmington and is the smartest person I’veever known. He amazed me daily with how incredibly smart he was and he could doanything with computers. He was weeksaway from joining the military, an incredibly gifted swimmer (his breast strokewas phenomenal), and great with kids. He was funny, smart, annoying, mischievous,genius, handsome, charming, lovable, talented, and dangerous in a way and I wasdrawn to him for all those reasons and more. When I stayed overnight at his house, he brought me midnight snacks ofKajun Krab dip on crispy bread rounds, and watermelon when it was in season. He loved my dog Minnie (RIP), both of our families, the movie HappyFeet and pretty much every sci fi show/movie/book he ever encountered. We celebrated two anniversaries. No matterwhat he did to upset me, he could always make me smile but pushing the squishytip on my nose- my “happy button,” as he called it. He always held my hand inthe car and let me take an annoying amount of pictures of him and us (which Iam even more grateful for in retrospect). I’m not saying he’s an angel, becausehe wasn’t- none of us are. He had his faults, just like everyone else but Iloved him deeply, and he loved me, possibly even more than I did him. Even whenwe got to be at each others' throats, I couldn’t imagine my life without him.
Matt died August 8, 2008 (overshadowing opening day ofSummer Olympics, he was never one to let anything get more attention than him).
His birthday was today. He would have been 23. Twenty three.
He’s been gone for 1188 days now and not one of them hasgone by that I haven’t thought of him. All those cliché things you hear like “itseems so long ago and like yesterday at the same time,” and “I miss him so muchit hurts,” suddenly become real feelings. I think about him every day butsometimes weeks can go by without me getting sad. I can think of the time wewere driving back from the lake with our friends Carrie and Blair and they toldus that us holding hands in the front seat reminds them of our parents and wewent into a full skit where Carrie and Blair were our children for theremainder of the drive home. Sometimes I get sad, but it’s fleeting- itsubsides to another happy memory of him, or I drift out of the day dream thatgot me there just as quickly as I drifted into it. But sometimes, and it’sthese times that make me question my strength, the sadness floods over me,sweeps me away into total sorrow and it can be overwhelming, crippling. It can bebreath taking, cloud my mind, make my stomach turn, attack my nerves and senses.I can become careless, anxious, reckless, irritable, reclusive, self-pitying.
My friend Laurel found an article while Stumbling and sentit to me a couple of weeks ago: It Happened to Me: My Boyfriend Died. Withouteven reading the article, you can probably guess what it’s about. I broughtmyself to read it and just cried. I felt for her, I understood her absolutesorrow, she was me. Sometimes in feeling sorry for myself, I forget that there areother people who have been there, who have experienced (and are stillexperiencing) the same kind of great loss. The story of Greg and Lela wasdifferent than mine and Matt’s of course, but it was equally as tragic.
Matt had a sore throat. He went to a doctor who startedtreating him with medicine that would have helped make him feel better had heactually had mono. But the doctor was in a hurry and experiencing somelife-changing things of his own at home, so he started treating him for monobefore the test results were back. Since Matt had acute tonsillitis, theprednisone he was given worked against his body, made him septic, andultimately killed him in a matter of hours.
I wouldn't trade the 573 days I had with him for anythingand I’ll never understand it, but I have accepted it. There’s nothing I can doto change it. No anger or resentment or constant questioning will bring himback. He was someone who could have changed the world. His friends, family, andme will never stop missing him. I started writing letters to Matt a long timeago. I know he’ll never read them, but it’s therapeutic to me and makes me feelclose to him in a way. I wanted to share one:
I hate saying it, but therewas a possibility wouldn’t have spent forever together, wouldn’t have gottenmarried and had the kids we always talked about. It would have broken my heartto see you with anyone else, but it would have paled in comparison to the hurtmy heart feels, even now, to know that I can never even speak you again. It killsme that we can never run into each other and catch up over pizza and burgers, thatwe never got to even have a legal drink together, that we can never drive yourmom crazy because of our cigarette smoking, that at some point in the futureyour parents are going to be at my wedding and it won’t be to you, that they’llmeet my kids and they won’t be yours. Everyone says life isn’t fair, and afterlosing you, I know that it really isn’t. But the most unfair thing in life isdeath. Especially yours.
I know I have to live the rest of my life knowing that Mattisn’t alive and I wish it wasn’t the case, but J.K. Rowling said, “To have beenloved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us someprotection forever.” I always used to say “love you more than air” and he’danswer with “can’t breathe without you” (or vice versa) and sometimes I reallyfeel like I can’t breathe without him; but Matt is my guardian angel, and Iknow that he will be with me forever.
xo .Happy Birthday Matt, miss you always. xo
|Yes Matt, I see the orb on the right side of the picture. Thanks for showing up for yet another photo shoot of us.|