Reflecting on Matt's final day and lasting memories left behind

Shared by Tom Himes on April 2, 2013

Twenty years ago at this time, I took Matt and a neighbor fishing on Skippack Creek. It was opening day of trout season. We didn’t catch anything that day but I do remember it being a fun day as the boys played at the creek and occasionally did a little bit of fishing. Little did I know at the time, but that was the start of a tradition I have kept since that day – I have gone back to that same spot every year on opening day of trout season. Fishing is one activity I really enjoy as I am at peace with nature and away from every day stress.

Two years ago on this day, I was again back to my familiar spot on the creek. It was 8:00 AM in the morning as I walked out to the middle of the creek and threw in my line. Within 5 minutes, I caught a trout and was feeling very good about the day ahead. But that feeling was short lived. A couple minutes later my phone rang. I generally do not even bring my phone with me when fishing here, but for some reason I did on this day. The phone call was from my wife as she informed me of the news of Matt’s passing. I was totally shocked and devastated and could not believe the news that I just heard. I was speechless and had a feeling that I was going to faint but somehow I made it out of the creek and hiked back to my car. The hike back to the car and the drive back home on that day seemed to take forever as many thoughts crossed my mind. While driving back, I received more news that gave me a glimmer of hope as I was told that Matt was still alive and at the hospital.

When we arrived at the hospital and saw Matt and talked to the doctors – we soon realized his chances of survival were very slim. We still held out a small sliver of hope throughout the day and were able to express our thoughts and prayers to Matt. During the day, several of Matt’s friends stopped by and called to ask about his status. As they heard the news, they too were devastated and at times, inconsolable as the news was just too unbearable. Unfortunately, Matt was probably not able to hear us and realize how much he was loved by so many of his family and friends. I don’t think he ever realized how he was able to make others smile and be happy even at times when he himself may not have been. He had such a great smile and was kind hearted to those around him.

Later on that day, we said our final goodbyes and had to let Matt go to a better place.

That day will never be forgotten nor will the many memories that were left behind. I think of Matt every single day and still wish he were here. There will always be a hole in my life without him. Since his passing, I have had more time to reflect on his life and the days without him. It is very difficult at times to deal with but I do want to believe that his passing will somehow help others. My hope is that others that knew Matt will remember both Matt’s life and his death and will be able to reflect on their own lives and see what changes they can make to improve themselves. I hope that others realize how delicate the balance is between life and death and will take steps to ensure they live long and healthy lives.

As we all have our various struggles to deal with in our own lives, we also are so fortunate to live in a such beautiful world and country. I hope others who may read this and are feeling depressed in their own lives or who may be using drugs are strong enough to seek help and make changes so they can live and enjoy all that life has to give. Matt would want others to improve themselves and to find help if needed. Hopefully Matt’s death was a strong enough reminder to us all to realize how precious life is and to help us all make positive improvements in our own lives. This will give more meaning to Matt’s life and allow us all to continue to remember him for the rest of our lives.

As for me, I continue to return to that same fishing hole on opening day of trout season. I continue to enjoy the peace and solitude that fishing offers for me. It is also a day where I reflect even more on life and death and have much stronger feelings and remembrances for those family and friends that have I have lost in this world.

I love you Matt and look forward to a point in time in the future when we will meet again. In the meantime, please look over us all and help give direction and guidance to those of us who need it. You are so dearly missed. Love, Dad

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