I know we all sit here, in sorrow and great sadness, trying to remember our own times with Matt. For me, his coming into this world served as a bridge from the place I had just left to this new home I could never have prepared for. I know I can speak for my sister Tara when I say that his birth sparked a joy for us that we needed in order to feel like this new place was home. Here was someone that would look at us as true sisters, not adopted, but his own. My sister will tell you to this day that although she is thrilled to have given birth to four beautiful girls, her hope of having a little boy ignited because of her love of Matthew. He was an adorable baby and a great source of happiness for all of us.
Of course as he got a little older he had his moments – as the youngest and most spoiled of us. He had no problem reminding you of the rules mom and dad had set out and being a tattle tale if he felt you were committing an infraction. But this part of him is not what I remember the most today.
Matthew and I had our best times as adults. I was so grateful that throughout his twenties and into his thirties we grew closer. He often confided in me. Especially when as a nineteen year-old he began the difficult journey of living his own truth in a society that still treats beautiful creatures of God like him as second class citizens. To this day, I am in awe of the courage and strength it must have taken to step out of the shadows and be who he was while most of us at that age were lucky enough to only have to deal with typical teenage stuff.
When Shaune and I moved to London at the end of the 90’s with my brother Mark, we loved having Matt in our lives on a regular basis. Because he still lived there too, we often had barbecues and get-togethers a few times a week. I saw him less regularly when he moved to Toronto but there were some memorable times when I would be mixing a drink order behind whatever bar I was working at and turn around to see his smiling face sitting on a stool demanding to be served.
In the last few years, I have had my most fulfilling times with my baby brother. When my son Deaglan was born, I wanted nothing more than to have Matthew be a big part of his life. Matt as most of you know, loves kids and is hands down the most fun uncle. Kelly and Asia can attest to that. I loved watching him hold my little boy. Something so gentle and peaceful always came over his handsome face as he interacted with our babies. He always showed up in true good uncle fashion with gifts for the kids. And how he knew exactly what they wanted, I will never know.
And I know that he was a good friend too. I’ve been lucky to speak to some of his closest friends in the last few days, friends like Libby, Fardos, Garry, Sean, Dave and so many others who have emailed me this week. And it is not surprising that they are deeply grieving losing this true friend of theirs. My heart goes out to all of you because I know that if he was a fraction of the friend to you as the brother he has been to me than you are all changed for it.
I was fortunate that Matt read a beautiful passage from the Bible at our wedding. He called me a few days before and asked me if he could change it around a bit – you know add a joke here and there. I think his sense of humour was one of the best parts of him. Always self-deprecating but quick and so so funny.
Matt, I love you and I miss you! I know you are somewhere safe, somewhere peaceful. I’m certain you are lifting the spirits of those around you all the time. Because as so many of your friends told me this week, you truly had the gift of making people feel loved, warm and just better. You will never leave my heart or the memories of my children. Shaune loved you like his own brother and we feel eternally grateful that you were here.