Yesterday, his older brother Marc sent me a picture of his grave stone. It brought tears to my eyes. Sitting at my desk at work I cried. Cried because it makes it so final.
I hadn't talked to Matt since one day early in 1995 when I called him from Japan to see how he was doing and tell him I would be home later in the year and he informed me that he had gotten married. I was shocked. I didn't know. It definitely was not what I expected to hear. But as much as my heart broke, I was happy for him. He and his wife were expecting their first child later that year. But I knew at that moment that my best friend was gone. I had to back away. I couldn't call him anymore. Gone was my reason to leave the Navy. So I lost contact with him. Over the years I thought of him often, thought of his family and wondered how they were all doing. You see, where I come from, even if you aren't family, you are family. We were a close community. With the invention of Facebook, I looked for him every once in a while and asked our mutual friends about him but was never able to find him. But I was afraid. I was afraid to reach out to this family that I loved so much. There were times when I wanted to call his Mom and see how he was doing but I didn't want to interrupt his life. We were close once. Closer than most friends. We had a very special and unique relationship.
So news that he had ended his life hit me hard. I wasn't able to get to his funeral service but I prayed for his family, his kids, his brother, his parents. I still pray for them. I pray that somehow they find peace that he wasn't able to find in this life. I pray they know and remember that he DID love them.
When I saw the gravestone, it made his death final. Like somehow this was just a bad dream and now it's actually true. I cannot imagine what those closest to him must have felt and still feel to this day. His brother. His parents. His kids. His family. His friends. I know they ALL miss him terribly.
Matt, you are still loved. You are sorely missed. And I pray that you have found the peace that elluded you at the end of your time on this earth. Please know I will never forget you, the band trips, the classes at Conner and NKU, the Ecology class when you had to take me home because I fell in the nasty pond and you were forced to meet my doberman(I told you she wouldn't hurt you). I will never forget your smile, your laugh and your eyes. I will always smile at the memory of the day you came through the door of Prime 'n Wine after Marc & Heather's wedding/before the reception in your tuxedo...my prince in a tux...you made me feel like a princess that day...and thinking back to that day, I can still smile at the memory. I was blessed to be a part of your life, even if for a short time. Thank you for giving me your friendship. I will cherish those times forever.
Rest in peace dear friend. Rest in Peace.