Matthew was born October 25, 1985. As a young child he was very involved in sports playing both soccer and baseball. He was an excellent catcher and received many trophies. Both as a child and adult, Matthew loved to make people laugh and was known to play many jokes on our family. He was a talented, funny and curious child. While Matthew did not complete High School, he obtained his GED and went on to earn his degree in Computer Networking. He loved technology and excelled in that field. Later in life, Matthew became the proud father of 2 children - Sophia and Silas. He was an excellent Dad and loved taking care of his children. Sophia was a Daddy's girl and Silas loved when his Daddy made silly faces and gave him horseback rides.
As a teenager, Matthew began exhibiting signs of depression and started "experimenting" with different substances. As his parents we did what any parents would do - we sought many forms of treatment for his addiction and mental health issues. There were many diagnoses given to Matthew - severe depression, chronic anxiety, bi-polar disorder and paranoia. Matthew was prescribed many different medications, and some were even prescribed to offset the side effects of others. It was during his early twenties that Matthew's addiction spiraled out of control as well. In the last 10 years of his life, I cannot count the number of times Matthew was hospitalized or placed in a treatment facility. It was heartbreaking to see your child suffer and know that you alone could not fix it.
There were years that Matthew did well. He was able to hold down good jobs and provide for his family. He was so proud of himself and worked so hard at living a "normal" life. We were just as proud as well. Matthew had many close calls with death during his addiction. In February 2015, Matthew overdosed and was in a coma for several days. He realized that once again, he had knocked on death's door and fought to live a sober life. From that time until his death on August 6, 2017, Matthew had periods of sobriety, but he was never free of his pain. I can remember him telling me several times that taking drugs made him feel "normal". I never understood that even as I watched him pace the floors over and over, even as I saw that deer in the headlights look he had when he was feeling anxious, even when he would sleep for days because he was so depressed. During these years we tried everything to help and save him. Was he enabled? Yes. Was he shown tough love? Yes...nothing we did worked. Up until March 2017, Matthew lived in several recovery homes. Some were good, and some were not so good. It was during his last stay at a recovery home that was more like a flop house, he asked to come home again. I would be lying if I said I did not have some hesitation, but he was my son and I wanted him home...he had been through enough. In late March 2017, Matthew came to live with me and again promised that he was done. He wanted to get back to work and "do the right thing". He was committed in his words and I always had faith in him no matter what. There were some setbacks during this time, but nothing like it had been in the past. In the last few weeks of his life, I thought Matt had finally reached a point where he was going to be able to live a life free of drugs and use different coping mechanisms to work through his mental health issues. The combination of medications he was on, along with his desire to stay clean was stronger than ever. Many people said that they had not seen him look and act so well in a long time. He had been applying for jobs and had a few interviews set up. He felt that he was ready to start over again. The picture of Matthew with his nephew was taken the Tuesday before he passed. They had gone fishing that day and had a great time. He was happy and doing something he loved with people he loved, his Dad and nephew. The following day Matt spent some time with his sister, eating Mexican food and swimming. He was on a good path.
On Tuesday August 1st after Matt came home from fishing, we had a long conversation about his future and how I did not want him to overwhelm himself with trying to fix everything at once. Matthew had a history of doing that and it not turning out so well. We discussed how Sophia and Silas needed him and how much he loved them. We talked about drugs and how dangerous they were, especially with the Fentanyl that was now out there. I told him that he was going to wind up dead if he decided to continue using drugs...those words will haunt me for the rest of my life. On Thursday August 3rd I was hospitalized, and Matthew came to visit me the next day. He had taken an Uber to the hospital to tell me how his interview went that day. He looked so handsome and was so excited. He said that they did a drug test on the spot and he assured me that he passed. He stayed for a while and left with my husband (his step-father) to go back home. He asked if he could have a little bit of money because he wanted to take the kids somewhere over the weekend, gave me a kiss goodbye and told me he loved me as he always did. That was the last time I saw or talked to Matt. On Sunday August 6th, my husband informed me that Matthew had not come home the night before - his bed was empty. I asked him to move the covers around as Matt loved to sleep under the covers, but he was not there. I called and sent several text messages to Matthew but received no answer. As my husband was leaving the house to come to the hospital, he found Matthew sitting in our patio chair...deceased. He was not there when my husband went out to the porch at noon, so somewhere between noon and 2:25 pm Matthew made his way to my porch. 911 was called immediately and CPR was started, but my beloved Matthew was gone. A few weeks after Matthew passed, I signed into his email account and there it was...the job offer from that interview stating that he had passed all the qualifications. He was clean and had told me the he knew he was going to pass the screening. What happened between Friday and Sunday that Matthew chose to use again? Was he feeling anxious about going back to work? Did he think he could use "just one more time"? We will never know.
Matthew's illness did not define who he was. Even in his darkest times when he had nothing, Matt was always willing to help others. Whether it was giving food to a homeless person or clothing to someone in need. There were even times that he asked if he could have a stranger stay at our house because they had nowhere to go. He was kind, generous and compassionate. If only he could have seen in himself what others saw in him, this story may have a different ending. A few days after his death Matthew’s psychiatrist called me upon learning of Matthew’s passing. He had known Matthew for more than 15 years and his words brought some comfort to me during this difficult time. He offered his condolences and said “it was not for the lack of Matthew’s trying. He really did want to live a happy and drug free life, he really did try”. I knew deep in my soul that was true, but I will always ask myself the ultimate question…why?
Our organization, May Angels Treasure Them, Inc. (M.A.T.T.) was formed to help all the other Matthews that are out there. Our Matthew was fortunate that he had a loving and supportive family, but many do not. It is our goal to assist those that have the desire to live a sober and productive life. Matthew’s desire to help others will continue to live on through us.
If you need assistance or know of someone that does, please reach out...we care.