I was born to be a Mother I don’t remember a time in my life growing up when I didn’t want to have children. I tried for years before I found out that I would have to be artificially inseminated in order to have Matt. When preparing for my first insemination I had been advised not to get to excited because it rarely took on the first try. But I was one of the lucky ones or so I thought, less than three weeks after my first insemination I discovered I was pregnant. I was overjoyed but it only lasted a short time and by the time I was eight weeks I had lost the baby. After a miscarriage, bouts with depression and several more attempts, Matt was finally conceived. He was my little angel – he truly was my gift from God and that is where he got his name, Matthew, meaning a gift from God.
Matt was everything you could ever want in a son he was sweet, loving, and thoughtful he cared about everyone and their feelings. He always put everyone before himself he was so selfless and giving he never wanted anyone to feel bad or left out. He was smart, so funny and quick witted. He was always up for anything no matter how lame or physically strenuous. He was an incredible athlete there was nothing he couldn’t do, I miss watching him play basketball and throw a frisbee and football. I miss he and his brother Travis playing catch with the baseball or playing basketball in the street while I am finishing up dinner and going out and telling them it’s ready. I miss coming around the corner and seeing his car in the in front of the house and my heart skipping a beat because Matt is home and him calling out “Hi Mom” and coming to the car to give me a big hug and kiss. I miss sitting on the couch with him and watching TV those nights until I couldn’t stay awake any longer. Only to get up a couple hours later to see that he is still flipping through the channels because he doesn’t have cable in Chico and wants to get his fill in before finally falling asleep.
I miss talking to him on the phone for 45 minutes to an hour while he is running around in his car, going to the post office, the bank, walking around campus or sitting in the drive thru. I miss having him surprise me at work and take me to lunch. I miss having him sit across the table at dinner and knowing that I will never make another meal for him. I miss hearing him say, “I love you Mom”. I miss his smiling face and loving heart.
I miss all the trips we will never take together again as a family Matt loved spending time with the family. He would always rearrange his busy schedule to make sure he could make every trip, every Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and every birthday or just come home to spend the day or night. I miss his gifts, he was the greatest and most thoughtful gift giver he always knew just what to get you, you always looked forward to his presents. I miss that I will not get to throw him his college graduation party I started planning in August 2004 a week after we moved him to Chico, we were all so proud of him we knew how successful he was going to be.
What we have lost in Matt can never be replaced as one of my nephews said he was the shining star of the cousins. Matt was the shining star of all of our lives; he was the one that we all aspire to be like. Everyone loved Matt you couldn’t help yourself there was nothing not to love. Over 600 people came to his service to pay their respects and as his friend Andrew put it those were only the ones that could make it, imagine how many people would have been there if everyone that wanted to be there could have been.
Our lives have been shattered and will never be the same I will never dance with him at his wedding, we will never see Matt become a father, he would have been an incredible father. Travis’ children will never know their uncle Matt. Their children will never grow up together hearing their parents kid each other about how they grew up and talking about things they did together. I will never get to hold Matt’s children my grandchildren and see Matt in their precious faces. I’ll never be able to say he looks just like you, or you used to do that when you were little. So much has been taken from us not just in our everyday life but also our future. Matt was meant for greatness his potential in life was unlimited he had the world at his feet and was so focused on his future. He was full of life and joy, the possibilities for Matt were endless but that was taken from him and us.
The morning of Wednesday, February 2, 2005 will forever be imbedded in my memory as the most devastating day of my life. I will never forget getting the call from Greg at 6:15am telling me that something had happened to Matt that he was in a hospital in Chico, and we had to find him. My heart sank I knew it was bad I felt it, I knew that something very bad had happen to my baby as I cried out, “No, not Matt”. I quickly called 411 and asked for numbers of all the hospitals in Chico and got only one.
I called the number and explained that my son, Matt Carrington, was in a hospital in Chico but I wasn’t sure which one that this was the only number given to me. The person on the other end said that they were the only hospital in Chico and would see if he was there. Another person got on the phone and asked if I was alone and I began to cry more and told her my other son is here Matt’s younger brother he’s 14. She said that I would need to speak to the doctor. At this point I screamed to Travis who was on the phone with Greg to tell Dad to come home now.
When the doctor got on the line he said that Matt had been found in the basement of a frat house, he wasn’t breathing when the paramedics got there and when he was brought to the hospital he was at full arrest. He said he was in critical condition and to get to the hospital as soon as we could but not to drive myself. I told him that my husband was on his way home from the city and should be here in about 20 or 30 minutes. I asked the doctor who was at the hospital with Matt and he said no one that Matt was alone. I asked him to please do whatever he could to save Matt. My mind went crazy, ALONE, why is he alone! Why isn’t someone with him? What did they do to him? What could have possibly happened to my baby? What were they doing up at this time in the morning on a school night? What happened to Matt? I began to call numbers but couldn’t reach anyone, phones weren’t being answered and when they were they were going straight to voice mail. I called my friend Bobbie her husband, Bill, had called Greg to tell him about Matt he had gotten a call from their daughter Kristi in Merced who got a call from Mike Quintana. But Bobbie didn’t know anything, I couldn’t reach Kristi but that didn’t matter because she didn’t know anything. Nobody knew anything and all I knew is that my son was 3 hours away from home alone in a hospital possibly dying and I needed to get to him. He needed his mother.
Stephanie, a social worker, began calling me to make sure that I was okay. This set off alarms in my head, why is a social worker calling me I kept thinking. But nothing at this point mattered all I knew was that I had to get to my baby I had to be there with him, I had to hold him, he needed me and I needed to be with him. I called my sister Frankie and told her that Matt was in the hospital in Chico in critical condition and we were leaving as soon as Greg got here. I told her it didn’t sound good. She said I am leaving work and will meet you up there. Every minute seemed like 20 as Travis and I waited anxiously for Greg to get home. My mind was going a million miles a minute my despair was overwhelming. I tried to remember things I thought we might need because I didn’t know how long we would be there. I told Travis to call his baseball coach because he would not be at practice. I told him to try and eat something because I didn’t know when he would have that opportunity again and it was a long drive. Get something warm it will probably be cold there. We need water for the ride up. Get my phone charger from my car because the hospital has my number and I will need to stay in communication with them. Where is Greg, why is he taking so long? Matt, Matt what did they do to you? I need to be with Matt, he needs me. Where is Greg why isn’t he here yet? We have go to get to Matt. What happened? Why is he alone? He shouldn’t be alone, why isn’t someone with him? I need to be with him he needs me. Where’s Greg? Travis call dad and see how much longer? Matt, Matt, I love you honey, hang on we’re coming.
Stephanie continued to call me to see where we were and how we were doing. I told her that Greg was still on his way but we should be on the road shortly. Finally Greg pulled up, I called to Travis “Dad is here let’s go sweetie we’ve got to get to Matt”. We jumped in the truck and were on our way. We all wondered out loud what could have possibly happened? What were they doing down there I thought the pledging was over? Why were they up at that time on a school night? Why wasn’t someone with Matt, how could they leave him alone? Our sweet Matt what did they do to you? We knew that it couldn’t have been drugs or alcohol because Matt was too smart for that. We taught him at young age the dangers of drugs and excess alcohol, what could it have been?
An hour and half into the drive with an hour and half to go Stephanie called again. I couldn’t take it anymore, I told her I need to know what is going on with my son. I know it’s bad I need to know are we going to make it in time? I begged her to tell me the truth about my baby. She finally said we don’t like to give this news over the phone. I began to cry she said, “I’m sorry Debbie, Matt didn’t make it” this scream came out of me from deep within my being, then “No, NOT MATT!” I don’t know what happened with the phone at that point. Travis was crying behind me, Greg was crying next to me and beginning to drive erratically. I couldn’t reach Travis I said “Greg pull off the freeway we need to be together as a family”. He pulled off and into a gas station parking lot where we all got out of the car and hugged each other in our traditional family hug but this time without Matt, our family hugs would never be the same. Oh God, not Matt, not our sweet Matt who never did anything to anyone not the light of our lives, God not Matt. How could this happen? What could they have possibly done to him?
When we arrived at the hospital and were finally taken to Matt we were told before we could see him that we would not be able to touch him. I cried in pain, what? I need to hold my baby. Stephanie said that the coroner had to do an autopsy first so his body could not be disturbed. I turned and saw a covered body at the end of the room and said is that Matt? Stephanie said yes. My knees began to buckle. As we approached him I was hoping against hope that there had been a mistake but something inside of me felt that my sweet baby boy was really gone. As we got closer I saw his right arm, which was not covered and I began to shake, oh God Matt’s arm. As Stephanie slowly pulled the sheet from his head I saw his perfect hair and began to weep, Matt, I need to touch him I have to hold him he’s my baby. He had tubes coming out of him and blood and something else all over he was a mess and they wouldn’t let me hold him he had to lay there all alone, he had been alone way too long. I didn’t want to leave him like that, I wanted to take care of him but they wouldn’t let me there was nothing that I could do. Then I remembered that Travis had gone back to the grieving room because he didn’t want to see Matt like that and I needed to get to him he needed me too.
After speaking with the police we went back to Matt’s house where I crawled into his unmade bed covered myself with his blankets and the cloths he had changed out of before he left and breathed in Matt. My baby is gone what will we do without him? How will our perfect family go on? We will never be the perfect family again? We will never be the same what do we do next?
I cry uncontrollably everyday for my precious son some days are so bad it will just go on for hours. I hate that the last three days of Matt’s life were so torturous, I hate that I was not there to protect him as I had his whole life. My pain is so great that at times I don’t know how I am going to make it I just want Matt back so badly I want my family back the way it was, perfect, but I know that is something that will never happen. My life will never be the same our lives will never be the same, life, as we knew it, is gone forever.
I know that Matt’s death was never intended and I believe or hope that those involved are very sorry for what they did. But because of their actions and selfishness a sweet and selfless boy is gone forever. And for their actions they must be punished, this is how we teach our children right from wrong. I hope that whatever their punishment is they learn from it and their actions the morning of February 2 and become better people for it. I hope that they will want to teach others from their mistakes by telling their story about how they took the life of such a wonderful person they called “brother” and letting them know how wrong they were so that other lives can be saved and through this maybe we can someday put a stop to hazing altogether.
Our Last Christmas
The last picture we will ever take together