Yesterday was one of THE hardest days in my life. I had to say “see you later” to one of the greatest people I have ever known. (Our story is here: https://stephssoapbox.wordpress.com/2014/02/28/matt-my-friend-my-love-my-heartbreak-my-inspiration/ ) I choose to say “see you later” rather than goodbye because I hold tight to the thought that I will be reunited with Matt, my mother I lost in 2005, my baby girl Dara I lost in 1997, and so many other friends and family that have passed on from this Earth. It is what keeps me sane on days like these past few.
The service for my Matty was so beautiful. Anyone who knew Matt could tell that he had a hand in what was done. He was there in the room with us. I got chills followed by a warm feeling multiple times as I was sitting and watching it all unfold. At one point, I felt a gentle touch on my leg even though there was no one sitting next to me. I knew that touch. Some will totally get that, some will say I’m crazy. I don’t care. I know it was him comforting me and letting me know he was there. Others that were in that church have said similar things. Matt was one to give a comforting touch or lend a shoulder to cry on to anyone who needed it. I think he wanted each and every person who loved him to know that he was now happy and out of pain. He was letting us know it was OK to morn, but that he would always be with all of us forever.
I will forever remember the words that were spoken, the songs that were sung (especially the one his step-brother sang http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fz1N8W8phec ), the tears that flowed from every eye, and all the hands that reached out to embrace the family and friends that were in need.
The military salute and the presentation of American flags to Matt’s parents was the one thing that made me beam with pride. Matt was a man that took pride in his country. He rarely spoke of his days in the service with me, but when he did, he spoke with admiration and pride. He was a great soldier. He loved his country and his fellow man. I believe his stint in the military was one of the things that shaped him into the man he became.
When his young, but incredibly strong, teenage daughter read a letter to her father there wasn’t a dry eye left in the room. She spoke from her heart about how great a father he was to her and her younger brother. I was in my early 30’s when I lost my mother and that was hard enough. I can’t imagine going through it at 16. Matt had fought so hard to get custody of his children after his first bout with Leukemia. I am so grateful that he was able to win and for the precious time he got to spend with those kids. They still need their father. They still have so many more memories to make together as a family. I know he will be watching over them and guiding them along life’s path. I am thankful that they have an amazing family that they can lean on for support in the next few incredibly difficult days, weeks, and months to come.
Two images will remain in my memory of his children yesterday. His son was given Matt’s military jacket. His son put it on and looked so handsome and so much like his father in it. I was brought to my knees by a flood of memories of Matt from his Navy days. I decided it was time to leave after that and started towards the exit. I took one last look into the sanctuary where Matt’s funeral service had been held. I was again heartbroken by the image I saw. His daughter was sitting in a chair in the front row staring at the spot where Matt’s casket had been just a short few moments before. She was wearing a baseball cap (something that for years her father was never without) and a single beam of sunshine shined in through a window and touched the top of the cap. I know that was Matt shining down on her saying he would be with her forever.
The heartbreaking memories will stay with me forever, but I gained so much from the past few days. I saw how one man could touch so many lives in just a short 40 years. I saw how people I hadn’t seen in years and people I was just getting to know comforted me and each other in this time of need and remembrance. I saw how two young lives were touched deeply by their father. I felt sorrow. I felt love. I felt comfort. I gathered with those that loved Matt the most and shared memories of the past and hopes for the future. I felt Matt’s hand guiding me towards his friends to help me get through. I hope to keep these new friends in my life for a long time. These are people that love Matt as much as I do. We will be able to share memories and laughs for years to come.
Matt will always remain a major piece of my heart. My life would not have been the same without him. I treasure each and every moment I was blessed to share with such an amazing man.
As you once told me in a letter (and I repeated to you yesterday as I gave you one final rose),
“I will love you forever. I will for always. I will love upside down and sideways. No matter how close or how far apart, you will always remain a piece of my heart.”
See you later my Matty.