By Dillan and Matthew's mom, Denise
Dillan 7/17/91 – 12/30/10
Matthew 7/17/87 – 2/3/16
My beautiful boys, Matthew and Dillan, were born July 17, 1987 and July 17, 1991. They were born on the exact same day, only four years apart! Matthew received a beautiful baby brother on his fourth birthday and a happy meal. Matthew always said that was the best birthday ever.
With beautiful dark hair, gorgeous hazel eyes and thick eyebrows, Matthew could charm the shirt right off your back. Dillan’s charismatic smile and gregarious personality made you never want to leave his side. Both boys were extremely outgoing, involved in sports; Matthew especially enjoyed football and basketball while Dillan excelled in baseball, hockey and, in his later years, chess.
They both loved the Lord and attended many church functions as well as school functions surrounding their faith.
In June, 2008, the boys’ stepfather, Tom, suddenly passed away of a heart attack at the young age of 41, which ultimately sent the boys into a downward spiral having lost the man that raised them.
Unbeknownst to me, Dillan had much guilt and regret about the last time he spoke with Tom and Dillan even once told me that he wanted to get a tattoo with the word “Unforgiven” across his chest. He turned to numbing his pain beginning with marijuana use and later heroin, which he used daily. Dillan would desperately come to me seeking help and admitting himself into treatment centers.
Over a two‐year period, Dillan would be an in‐patient at three different treatment centers. Dillan told me: “Mom, I’m not a bad kid, just a sick kid.” Three days after being discharged from his last rehab center in Florida, Dillan succumbed to this dreaded disease, laying in his bed at a halfway house in Phoenix. That dreaded call came on December 30, 2010.
Dillan was only 19 years old.
After burying my baby boy Dillan, I realized that my son Matthew was also headed down that dark and dismal road. Matthew swore he would not end up like his brother. In fact, Matthew had a girlfriend who loved and adored him and in September 2013 they welcomed their baby daughter into this world.
Unfortunately, even with the love of his life and a beautiful daughter, Matthew was still tormented by the losses of his stepfather and his little brother Dillan. He struggled with the daily grief and regret of why it wasn’t him and why he couldn’t save Dillan and even Tom.
I received calls from the cemetery that I had to come and physically remove Matthew from Dillan’s graveside as the cemetery was closing and the caretaker couldn’t get him to leave.
Matthew went to treatment on several occasions, although they were short-term treatment centers; he only stayed clean for short periods of time before relapsing. I had my share of “tough love,” hearing my son cry out to me from the streets, begging for food and money and a place to sleep. He carried a cardboard sign around with him and walking hard life miles with holes in his shoes.
It was truly heartbreaking.
Matthew then welcomed a son into this world in June 2015, but his demons were out in full force again. Matthew spent more time in jail instead of getting the help he needed due to the lack of medical coverage that could help him receive the necessary care and treatment. Matthew was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and severe depression, among other things. His last resort to self‐medicate ended in a heroin overdose, all alone in a hotel room. He was found several hours later leaving behind a fiancé, two babies and of course, me.
He was 28 years old.
Bringing awareness to the need of providing our adult children the medical care necessary to prevent yet another avoidable tragedy. Mental illness and drug addiction commonly run hand‐in‐hand and yet, our society has very limited resources for proper care and treatment.
My boys had a bright future ahead of them but, because of their illness and lack of adequate treatment and medical coverage, their lives were cut tragically short.
Had they suffered from diabetes or skin cancer, they would have been provided the medical care and attention necessary to live a full life and you wouldn’t be reading about them now.
My boys have always been and will continue to be the LOVES of my life. Through my faith and belief in God, I am at peace knowing that my God has them in his hands, they are healed and free from these deadly earthly demons that haunted them. For that, I am forever grateful, and I am grateful to have been chosen to be Dillan’s Mom for 19 years and Matthew’s Mom for 28 years. What a blessing.
A poem written by Matthew pictured below:
Dillan's gravestone next to his stepfather Tom's pictured below:
Dillan's journal entries from his rehabilitation center pictured below (scroll gallery):