02/08/12 10:36 AM
A letter to Matthew - (caution: long read)
Loc: At the TNDeer shirt factory %^...
My daughter came to me last night crying - trying to understand - why Matthew was going though all of these trails - she asked if she could write a litter to Matthew - I talked so Scott and got permission for her to communicate with him.|
I also asked her, if it would be OK for me to publish it here, she just told me that she was OK with it - so I'll let this 'Letter to Matthew' stand alone:
...and I must say, I couldn't be a prouder father today....
I've been writing this letter to you in my head all day long. And now that I am sitting down to actually write it, I don't know where to start.
I was going to go with that whole: "You don't know me, but I know you, blah, blah, blah" crap - and that just sounded so lame in my head.
So, this is what I would tell a friend who was going through some seriously tough [censored] and I could relate to it. It'll probably be a little "all over the place" - and I'm sorry for that - but it's just kind of how my brain works. ;-)
I had a brother when I was growing up. He was 13 months older than I was. And we had the world's most average/typical brother/sister relationship. I used to have a Barbie Dream House and he would pretend to blow it up with his G.I. Joes and I would go screaming to my mom and tell on him. He used to beat me up. I used to tell him he was an idiot. But we loved each other very much - and we both knew it.
When Kenneth hit 18, he really got into the club scene. He LIVED in clubs in Nashville. Every chance he had - he was out in one. And he would come home and tell me all about it. I was so jealous. I wanted to go with him so bad, but I was 17 and couldn't get in. We started to bond and get along better while he told me about all the stuff he did on the weekends and he said he would take me with him when I was old enough. Well, that day came and I turned 18. Kenneth and I started hanging out more and going to the clubs together and really became true friends. I felt awesome that he thought I was cool enough to hang out with his group and that he trusted me to keep his secrets. (cause some of the things he did while he was out weren't exactly considered legal.)
December 21st, 2002 was another Saturday night for us. We were both going down the stairs to leave and when we got to the door, I stopped. I suddenly had a horrible feeling - that creepy feeling where something in your head is all: I got a bad feeling about this!!" I told Kenneth and that he should go ahead without me. And so he did. I still wonder to this day what would have happened if I could go back in time and go with him, but I know it wasn't supposed to be that way and that is why I got that bad feeling in my gut. It was God telling me that whatever the bad thing was, it didn't need to involve me, and I had best stay home.
The club he went to closed @ 3am - he would have been home maybe a little after 4am. Still dark outside.
The phone rang at 6:04am, waking me up that following Sunday morning. Before I had opened my eyes, and was still between asleep and awake, I immediately thought to myself: "That's Kenneth, calling from his cell phone to tell me to come unlock the front door and let him into the house." When I opened my eyes, I saw that it was light outside, and in THAT VERY SECOND, I already knew who it REALLY was. It was Vanderbilt Hospital. They had my brother.
There is a singer named Matt Kearney and a line in one of his songs that I love says: "I guess we're all just one phone call from our knees." It is SO true.
My brother fell asleep while he was driving home. From what the Sate Troopers pieced together, he woke up at some point when his car started to go off the road, ¶he tried to "fix" it, over-corrected, and flipped his car. He went head 1st through the car windshield b/c he wasn't wearing a seatbelt. He was taken to Vandy and when we got there to see him, I remember asking the Dr. what he thought was going to happen - he said he'd either be brain dead, or be fine. And I'm all: "Really, Doc? That's our options? Thatís pretty vague, Oh, he'll either come out of this like it was nothing, or he'll never be able to function at life or know who you are again."
All or nothing. Literally. W.T,F., man, ya know?
After being at the hospital all day, I went back home, b/c there had been "no change" in his status and honestly, I was friggin' exhausted. The very last picture I have in my head of Kenneth is my Dad leaning down to grab Kenneth's hand, as he looked at him and said: "Damnit, Kenneth, Fight!"
Which is what made me want to write all this to you.
Matthew, the only thing I can think about -when I think about you and your family and what all of you are going through- is that moment. It never occurred to me that I would not see Kenneth again when I went home or I never would have left. But in the end, it was too much and my parents made the most God awful choice a parent could ever be forced with - to let Kenneth go.
And so, he went. I never got to tell him to fight through it.
And I know all that sounds so, I don't know, morbid or "Debbie DownerĒ as I say sometimes. But I know what it did to me emotionally and mentally and I know if Kenneth had been around and had seen the person it had turned me into, HE would have been the one telling ME to keep fighting.
I know sh!t right now with you is complicated. I know it's a long road, and has been for years now. I know you are in pain. I know you are tired as Hell. My Dad told me about you and your accident and how you survived it - but now had to deal with all this other crap just to try to find a better way of life from the effects of the accident - and it has 'stayed' with me. I felt like I was going through the entire thing with my brother all over again.
And I don't know you so I can't know how you feel mentally or emotionally about this - if you feel positive, or have hope for the best, or trust in God to know that He knows best and has you and your family in His arms. I don't know if you are still fighting this mess kicking and screaming or are just kind of going with the flow, if you will - but if you are feeling down, and are feeling discouraged, or hopeless or scared or ANYTHING - KEEP FIGHTING. There is no way that God got you and your family through all of this for no reason. I just don't believe that.
And Dude, I KNOW - I KNOW - You have heard this speech a million times. I know EVERYONE - your family, your friends, the Doctors, perfect friggin' strangers such as myself - are all up in your business with that "EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON" stuff. And that crap is SO easy to say when you are NOT the one going through it.
'Keep fighting, stay strong, God is great!' -
'Yeah, well, you aren't the one suffering through it, so bite me!'
That's how I felt when I lost Kenneth. Everybody was like that and I wanted to punch them all in the face. I hated those people. Hell, I hated God. What kind of a God does this to a family? What kind of God do I believe in that would DESTROY my parents this way and leave me without my best friend?
'Screw you, God.'
I still believed in him, but I hated him. If this sounds familiar to you - or your parents - I know that feeling. I know that pain and that anger. I am supposed to keep my faith and trust you and pray for your will to be done and you slammed the door in my face??
But with time, you start to understand it all a little better. I don't know the EXACT reason the Lord took my brother, but I know it wasn't for no reason at all. I know now that God had better things for my brother to do. Bigger things.
You have better things to do, Matthew. Bigger things. HERE. On Earth. With your parents, and your little brother, and your family, and your friends, and girls, and places, and days, and nights, and good sh!t and bad sh!t. Dude, you aren't even 21 yet!! LOL
Thatís why you have made it so far with all this horrible BS. You've got sh!t to do. Donít let that go. Itís obvious that you have a fire lit under your butt somewhere or you would have never survived that 1st day to begin with.
I hope you know that there is a whole stinking Face book Fan page for you. Did you know that? Yeah, my Dad started it - it has like 500 people that know your story and are Praying the best for you. People in this world are PRAYING for you and your family. They are lifting all of you up with their hearts and in their love for the Lord. I hope you know how CRAZY POWERFUL that is.
You are NOT doing this by yourself. I swear you arenít. And I know that's what it feels like on the bad days. I know the bad days get BAD. I know they make you stick your head up your own butt and feel sorry for yourself and make you feel angry, and bitter, and you feel SO ALONE. No one knows how you feel or what you are going through. No one understands. Matt, I LIVED in that feeling. That was my whole life for SO LONG. But you are NOT ALONE. You arenít and neither are your parents. I donít even know you and I went to my Dad tonight, who hugged and held me, while I cried so hard over what you are going through.
Alright, I think I am at the point where I start repeating myself. So, I should shut up and stop typing this. I am pretty sure that by now you think I am dang near crazy for a 3 page typed letter to a total stranger. But I just could not let another day go by with you and your family so heavy on my mind and not tell you what I needed to say AND hear back when it was my life in the hole and I couldnít see the end of it.
There is a reason. There is a purpose. There is a meaning. There is hope. There is love.
Donít forget those things b/c they will be what gets ALL of us through our lives hardest times. And ya know what? Everyone says 'God will never give you more than you can handle.' - I call BS. I think he does, and THOSE are the times when we give it to Him. If you are having a bad day - thatís when you let it go. When you think: "I'm not strong enough for this mess." - TELL GOD THAT. Thatís all you have to do - Tell God: 'Hey, I think maybe You gave me more than I can do right now - so here it is - you take care of it.' And He will. I have no idea how, but He comes through one way or another. My parents and I are living proof of it.
I donít know what kind of music you like or listen to - but I know when I am having a hard time, music helps me SOOOO much. I always feel like song lyrics can say sh!t better than I ever could. It makes me feel good to relate to a song and know that someone put words to how I felt about something. Does that make sense? Anyways - I listen to everything - including Christian music - and dude, I know I'm beating the 'God' horse to DEATH in this letter, but. it's just pure truth. I like the Christian band 'Switch foot' - and they have a song called 'This Is Your Lifeí - it's not heavy on the Jesus references - just a song that makes you stop and think.
'Yesterday is a wrinkle on your forehead. Yesterday is a promise that you've broken. Donít close your eyes; - donít close your eyes, this is your life and TODAY IS ALL YOU'VE GOT NOW. AND TODAY IS ALL YOU'LL EVER HAVE."
All we get are moments, Matthew. As you and I both WELL know, ONE single moment can change your entire life. One minute you are in your car, driving down a road, like any other day - and the next - .
Just donít forget that today is all we have. Good, bad, or ugly. Love it as much as you can no matter what - FIGHT FOR IT - it will be worth it, I promise.
Don't let it change you.
You are on my mind and I will continue to pray for peace, love, healing, faith, and strength for you.
"...deer are magnificent animals to be hunted by skill and knowledge, not large vermin to be shot over piles of garbage like rats at a dump." -Eric Sharp, DFP, 06/05/2011
U.S. Coast Guard, Retired !!
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