Our son Matt was tragically taken from us last February 2, 2005. His brother, his mother and myself will never be the same our lives were forever changed that morning because of an incredibly stupid and heinous act done to him by his so-called brothers to be. I know one thing for sure with brothers like that he would have been better off with strangers – they would have helped him in his time of need.
I would like to tell everyone a little about a gift to this world name Matt that truly made everyone around him a better person. I met Matt when he was about 2 years old he had the biggest brown eyes and most precious face I had ever seen, you truly fell in love with the innocent spirit of this beautiful little boy. I was very fortunate to get him included in the deal when I was lucky enough to marry his Mother Debbie. I know a lot of people would consider this baggage when the woman you marry already has a child, but in my case it was better than winning the lottery.
It was a such joy watching him grow up, teaching him to ride a bike, skateboard, throw a frisbee, play football, basketball, paper football or any indoor sport in the living room until his mother put an end to it due to a couple of accidental breakages. Watching Matt try wake boarding or snowboarding were full of great moments. We would go camping a lot, beach, river and lake it didn’t matter as long as we were all together. I will never forget Matt’s first fishing trip he 4 ½ years old we were at Lake Berryessa, fishing was slow at best and I noticed an unusually large minnow in the bait bucket so when he wasn’t looking I put it on his hook. He was so excited to catch his first fish and of course I had to clean it. He would love to watch me clean fish and hold the guts and watch the heart take its last beats and cook and eat it.
I remember when Matt was little I would make him swim with me to an Island or some distant point without a life jacket. The day he past this test and could make it without my help his mother and I felt he could be around the water without a life vest on. We were so proud that day as we would be many times as he grew up. Matt was 7 when his mother gave birth to his little brother Travis, he had a soccer game that day so I went and got him and brought him to the hospital to see his new brother and his mother. He was so precious as he held his brother and looked into his eyes, you could see the bond immediately. It wasn’t long after that Matt and I were teaching Travis everything we knew about camping, swimming, fishing and sports together, those were such great times.
Matt excelled at basketball and inevitably there came a day that I wanted the side with wind to my back to throw a football or a Frisbee with him, he had developed quite an arm and was a tremendous athlete there wasn’t anything he couldn’t do and do well.
The best Father’s Day present I ever received was when Matt was 12 ½ years old. There is a time in any child’s life when they get tired of playing stuff with their dad but I would still ask Matt almost everyday to play something with me. When I opened my Father’s Day gift from Matt I found that he had made me a bunch of what looked like business cards that stated “any time, anywhere, any sport, I picked he would have to play it with me no matter what non-negotiable. He was always so thoughtful that way and I was so thrilled to get such a valuable gift, thank you Matt.
There are so many great things Matt became as he grew up, a great son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin, friend, student, athlete and just a beautiful soul. I’m so glad we got to go to the mountains a couple of years ago for our 1 st and only white Christmas. And last Father’s Day Matt and Travis went on their first salmon fishing trip. They both got sick on the way back but Matt caught the biggest salmon that day and was so proud of it.
Matt your Mother and myself are so proud of you we love you so much, not a day goes but that you’re not missed more than you could ever imagine. Travis is putting up a good front and a stiff upper lip but he will never be the same without his big bro! I can’t tell you how difficult that February morning was. I can’t even imagine what you must have gone through, seizure, freezing cold, couldn’t control your bodily functions; bleeding out, heart dysrhythmia, and all that time nobody did anything to save your life. I was at work and received a call shortly after 6am that morning from Bill Vahl, he said that Kristi called him and said you were in the hospital and we needed to call and find out what was going on. I hung up and called Mom and told her so she could find the phone number to the hospital in Chico and try to find out what was wrong. After I hung up and waited to hear from her I had the most terrible feeling in my gut, I was so scared something serious was wrong with you. I called your phone number and with every ring I thought oh man I’m gonna wake him up and that would have been a great thing, finally you’re message picked up. Hi this is Matt, leave a message. It was so comforting to hear your recorded voice but that wasn’t going to do.
I couldn’t wait for Mom to call me any longer so I called her back to see if she had found out anything, her phone didn’t pick up so I figured she was still talking to the hospital. Not being able to wait I called Travis on his phone and asked what’s up he said Mom was still talking to the people at the hospital. Then in the background I heard her scream very loudly, “TELL YOUR FATHER TO GET HOME NOW!” I said to Travis I’d be there as soon as I can. I told Adam at work the jobsite was his to run and I ran out of that building and drove as fast as I could to get home. While in route I got a hold of Mom she didn’t know much except the doctor told her we should get there as soon as possible. I got home and Travis, Mom and I headed to Chico a 3-hour drive. The first 20 minutes of the drive seemed like an hour or 2.
We were about 90 minutes into the trip Mom had been talking with a woman at Enloe Hospital she was hysterical and told the lady we have to know if you were going to make it or not or had a chance or anything. We were driving 90 to 100 mph and she said to Mom we don’t like telling people this over the phone and made sure Mom wasn’t driving then she told Mom the worst thing a parent can hear. I’m sorry Matt didn‘t make it. Mom screamed so loud Travis and I knew it was fatal! We had to pull off the freeway, mom was hysterical, Travis was in the back crying I was in shock and couldn’t believe what was happening. We pulled over and parked hugged each other and cried for some time then we got to you as soon as possible. Your Mother, brother and myself just had our heats and souls ripped from our bodies, we have never had anything this devastating happen to our family, not our precious so Matt.
We finally arrived and they took us back to see you and told Mom, Travis and me that we couldn’t touch you. Matt can you imagine we were going to see you and couldn’t touch you? That messed me up, Travis decided that he didn’t want to see you like that so someone took him back to a room too wait for us and they took Mom and me to see to you. When they pulled the sheet off your head you could see your perfect little hair-do you always had and then Mom and I had the worst moment of our lives, it was really you! We were devastated! How? Why? What? How could this have happened to you? But they didn’t know anything that had happened to you because those damn Greek Brother’s had lied and said you were just down in that basement cleaning and doing calisthenics all night and they didn’t know what was wrong with you. The next several hours were like days, it was the worst of times our lives were destroyed.
Your candle light vigil was really nice, so many people so many nice things said of you. Your roommates Molly and Sarah were so sweet but also messed up. Tom Martinsen brought Aaron, Elliot, Joey, Halley and Michael all up from the neighborhood. Both Mom’s and my families were all there; your best friends Mark, Andrew, Jeff and Erwin were up immediately. All of your friends old and new wanted to kick some ass but refrained, you would have been so proud of them. Matt your service was so beautiful over 500 people so upset, it was incredible we will always treasure all the support we received. I could go on and on but I have so much to say I need to move on Matt.
Matt one thing I want you to know. I love you so much and I couldn’t have been prouder of you that I already was. You were truly the most precious son a Dad could ever have had the pleasure of raising. I wish I could hug you one more time. I’m going to miss not getting to see you graduate from college, get into your career, get married and have children of your own or play just another game of horse or frisbee or paper football with you.
Your Mom is having a terrible time she misses you so much she’s always crying. Travis and I try to keep her spirits up but it is going to take a long time and we will still never be the same. Travis misses you – man it sucks no more bro to play sports with or videos games or watch TV or listen to CD’s with any more. Matt you were the person he looked up to, you set the bar and he wanted to raise it.
I do know one thing for sure these young men that were in that house that night don’t have an ounce of responsibility or give a damn about anything but their Greek system. You know a lot of these guys said oh I didn’t want it to keep going on or I felt sorry for him and let him use the bathroom once, instead of making you go on yourself or filled the 5 gallon bottle with warm water one time or grabbed your pants and helped you do push ups. Screw that. If they really gave a damn, and I don’t care which one just one of them could have made the difference, if they would have just stopped it but they didn’t not one of them.
Matt, I can’t believe it. I know you wouldn’t have let anybody die in that damn basement, but not one of them could stand up and be a man, not one of them. I don’t know what is going to happen to these guys but I wish they would all rot in hell.
Matt your Mom, Travis and myself will never get over this, we will always keep you in our hearts. We will never ever stop thinking about you, by remembering how you lived your life hopefully it will get us through the rest of ours without you in it. We love you forever MATT.
Matt’s first fish
Matt became quite the little fisherman
Our perfect Christmas 2003