Be a lamp or a lifeboat or a ladder. Help someone's soul heal. Walk out of your house like a shepherd.
Six years ago today, our son Matthew died. Six years ago today, our lives changed in ways that continue to unfold before us. Six years. Thankfully, the memories of the three weeks preceding October 22, 2010 are beginning to recede in time. I am happy to relinquish the memories of emergency rooms, ICU stays in two hospitals, hospital waiting rooms. It now takes effort to bring them to the surface, and I am content to not relive those days. What I am happy to relive are the memories of Matthew when he entered this world in January 1989 up until late September of 2010. Our family talks about him a lot. When we see a movie or read a book that we think he’d like, we always bring it up. A hike is always a reminder of him with his deep love of the outdoors. Anytime we see a Robert DeNiro movie, we are reminded of Matthew (he looked like a young DeNiro AND did a great DeNiro impression). The bands Slightly Stoopid and Sublime always put a smile on my face, and I cannot watch the Mariners or the Seahawks without thinking of him. His 21 years on earth are not forgotten by us, and we will forever walk around with a Matthew-shaped hole in our hearts.
What has changed for me these past six years is how I view the world. I now recognize that by and large people are trying the best they can to bring their best possible selves to their lives. It’s not always easy. We make mistakes, we stumble, we fall, and sometimes we fall hard. Sometimes it can seem like there are insurmountable obstacles placed directly in front of us, and we have no idea how we can get over or around them. But we are remarkably resilient, and with a little time, and a little help, we brush ourselves off and stand up again and keep trying. We keep going forward as best we can, because that’s what you do in this life.
I’ve learned that it’s our connections with others that make life worth living. Showing up for one another matters. In fact, it may be all that matters. Whether you are on the giving end or the receiving end, we are connected to one another, and these connections (let’s call them love) are essential to our well-being.
So while today is a difficult day for us, it’s also a day for remembering our wonderful son and being grateful for all that he brought to us. His passing at the age of 21 reminds us that life is short, and that we need to be grateful for every loved one in our lives now, as well as for those who are just memories. Because when everything is stripped away--all the material stuff, the seemingly important commitments, the arguments big and small, and we are left with just our essence, love is all that matters.