By Matthew's aunt, Joyce
May 28, 1978 - March 3, 2001
Everyone makes mistakes in life,
but that doesn’t mean they have to pay for them the rest of their life.
Sometimes Good people make Bad choices,
it doesn’t mean they are Bad--
--it means they are human.
In Northeastern Ohio, life was idyllic for my family in many ways. We are a large family and Matthew and his siblings were the first nieces, nephews and grandchildren. We celebrated all of the landmark events of Matt’s life. We gathered for holidays, birthdays, graduations and many other occasions. We never imagined that drug addiction would be a part of our lives.
Matt had everything going for him; he was handsome, tall, and athletic with beautiful blue eyes and a great personality. He had a lopsided smile that turned up at the corner of his mouth. He loved anything that would yield a good belly laugh. From the time he was a baby, if he found something funny, he laughed so hard he would lose his breath. His laughter was contagious and could put others into hysterics without their ever having heard the joke.
As a child Matt was a huge fan of the Dukes of Hazard and wanted to grow into a “Duke” himself. He enjoyed soccer and loved playing cards with his friends. He grew into a somewhat quiet yet powerful person. Matt was extremely loyal to his family and friends. His life was orderly. Everything had its place. I wonder now how stressful the drugs must have made his life--throwing everything out of whack.
When our family took a cross-country trip to see the United States, every sibling got to choose one stop that they wanted to visit. As an Elvis fan, Matt’s selection was Graceland. He also loved Frank Sinatra and James Dean. The Golden Girls TV show was a way to relax late at night. In many ways, Matt was an old soul. He enjoyed adventures; one day he drove with his mother to no less than twenty different stores in search of the best lottery tickets for an upcoming drawing. Matt was proud of his Irish roots and celebrated with the Hibernians throughout the years. He was an avid reader and a supportive brother.
Matt struggled for years with a Substance Abuse Disorder. He was in an out of treatment numerous times, but in the late 90’s there were limited programs for teenagers. He fought valiantly to live the life of a ‘normal’ teen.
Matt’s life totaled 7,944 days, during which he brought love and laughter to his family; but on the 7,945th of his life (March 3, 2001) Matt lost his battle to heroin. I choose to remember and celebrate the 7,944 days in this piece.
We will never know where Matt’s life may have led. Did we lose an artist, poet, lawyer, scientist, singer, painter, plumber or teacher? We will never know who his wife or kids may have been. We will never know the man he would have become. Heaven’s gain was this world’s loss. Until we meet again Matt, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.