I was not sure if I wanted to write about this, but as I lay restless last night I realized there was no other way to get all the images out of my mind. To somehow make peace with the fact that the aorta was ripped right through the center of two families beginning September 26, 2012 and ending in a motel room on November 30, 2013.
The futures these two families had imagined for themselves were forever altered. The living are left to deal with the aftermath.
My cousin died yesterday. I will spare the details here, mainly because I do not know them all for certain, and if you want to know more you can just Google his name. It’s all out there, and if you live in the Dallas / Ft. Worth area, you have undoubtedly heard the story.
There are several versions to the story, but from where I am sitting they all wreak havoc and end badly, so I choose to focus on the moments that were real; unaltered with substance abuse. Those moments I had with my cousin I want to remember.
His ending was not one that would garner much sympathy, but I know he had a family that loved him in spite of himself. When not many kind words will be written, I want to make sure there is one place that remembers the David Matthew before the drugs. Before the gun. Before the chaos.
To me, the story on the internet reads like a bad episode of Homicide: Life On the Street.
How could this be my family?
My desire today is to remember my cousin, not only for myself — but my family; his children.
The meth addict who shot himself in a motel room. I actually did not know that guy, so there is not much I can say about him. I did not love him. In fact, I would go so far as to say I hated that guy and all he had done. That guy was not anyone I would know or socialize with — and hadn’t since July of 2011.
But that guy in the picture with me on my wedding day (August 12, 2007) — I would hang out with that guy any day of the week.
That guy I loved. That is the guy I want to remember.
Life is about choices and it’s fair to say my cousin did not make great ones, especially over the past several years. I’ve always hated drugs, and though I never imagined it could end like this for my family — I knew all too well how their devil-like grip could overtake a person; rendering them unrecognizable to those who loved them. This was the case with my cousin.
My David Matthew was unrecognizable to me as I scanned the stories on the internet.
He was born two days before Thanksgiving in 1977 and left the world two days after Thanksgiving in 2013.
I remember the day he was born. I was eight. I was hoping he would be a girl. I already had a boy cousin — and being an only child myself — I was ready for a girl.
This was his first Easter.
I quickly got over the fact that he was not a girl and fell in love with him.
There were five of us. Five cousins. I loved them all like they were my little brothers and sisters because I had none. I still do, even though distance and life keeps us apart most of the time.
The David Matthew I knew was sweet. He was smart. He was thoughtful. He was loving.
He was a great cook.
We both loved Dr. Pepper and milk (not together).
We both loved The Avett Brothers.
We loved to laugh about our family together.
He was freaking hilarious.
Before the drugs, he would call and we would talk for sometimes hours about everything and nothing. I could always talk to him and always wanted to. There is a story about our grandfather and a tamale that still makes me laugh out loud when I think about the first time he told it. He was always making me laugh out loud. He got that from his father.
I was with him the first time he saw the ocean. It was in 2010 when we went to San Diego to see TCU play in the Poinsettia Bowl. They won.
After our trip, David had expressed how he loved my husband’s top-siders. Jonathan bought him a pair and had them mailed to his house. David wrote the most beautiful thank you note. I’m glad we still have it.
The sweet guy I loved and remember was in that thank you note. When I read it I can hear his voice. I can feel his hug. I can hear him telling me that he loves me. He did.
There was a part of him that always wanted to please me. Always wanted me to be impressed with him.
We went to an Avett Brothers concert at Red Rocks in July of 2011. The drugs had already crept into his life, so the visit was not a great one, in fact it was awkward. But he loved the Avett Brothers from that night on. He could not wait to get home and introduce the band to his wife. For a brief moment that night, he was there with me. He went and bought us all food and drinks. He knew I was irritated with him and he wanted to make it up to me.
The last time I talked to him was over the summer while I was pregnant with the Dumplings. We talked about the Avett Brothers new album. There was little else to talk about. His favorite song off the new album was ironically, Life.
I hope — as everyone in my family wades through this nightmare — we can each look back and find the pieces of David Matthew that were awesome.
There were many pieces of him that were. Too many to write about here.
Those moments when he was there. He loved his kids fiercely. He loved his parents, his grandparents, his sister, his nieces and nephews. He loved his family. He wanted to be just like his Uncle Roy.
I want to remember this sweet boy. The boy and the man I looked forward to hanging out with every time I came home.
The little boy I used to love to babysit.
The little boy that hated Santa Claus.
Oh, David Matthew. I love you. I will miss you.
But I will remember the good times and the sweet moments.
Those are the ones I will carry with me.
*** UPDATE *** My cousin’s liver was a match for his step-Mom’s sister, Loretta. This is something good to come out of all of this, as she has been on a liver transplant list for some time. I am not sure if any of his other organs helped anyone, but I do know his liver helped someone he loved. David would be happy about that.