My life stopped when I lost my youngest child.
Looking back it was more than surreal. How does anyone acknowledge a nightmare that begins at dawn? At 6:25 am I woke suddenly, distressed, anxious, actually sat ‘bolt upright’ in bed. I never thought people did that until it happened to me. I always thought it was a literary phrase. “Bolt upright” and I knew my world was wrong and never would be normal again. I got out of bed and checked on both my sons. Neither were in their beds. Not unusual. I went downstairs and saw one son asleep on the couch. This wasn’t reason for alarm. The boys worked unusual hours and would fall asleep watching television or video games.
But Matthew was missing…
I checked my cell phone. He had a tendency to meet with friends late at night when they ended their work shift. He often stayed the night at their house. But when this happened he knew to text me. He knew I worried. Nothing was on my cellphone. I didn’t have a message. I tried calling his phone but got his voicemail. The same, the second time. I tried texting him.
I knew he would often stay at a friend’s place in San Francisco and go directly to class which started at 8 am. So I sent him another text before I went to work. I was more than just anxious and relayed that to my husband. Something wasn’t right. My world wasn’t right.
I was busy at work but at lunch I tried to reach Matt again. I knew when he was in class he would have his phone off but on his break he would respond. Today he didn’t. I called; I texted. No response. I was becoming upset. This wasn’t Matthew. He always responded to me!
Then came the climax of the nightmare which suspended time.
Mark called me – he had been contacted through the Hercules police department that Matt’s car was found in San Francisco. That was the message on his voicemail. He thought it was a parking ticket problem. My heart fell out of my body. (I don’t think I found all of it yet)
I called Mark back and yelled, “No! No! No! Something terrible has happened! Find out what it is!” In less than a minute Mark called back.
It was beyond terrible! It was the nightmare that wouldn’t ever end. Ever.
Mattie’s car was found at the Golden Gate Bridge parking lot and the officers think he jumped from the bridge. Oh No! Not Matt! Don’t let this be real ! No! No! No! No!
I called David at home, my eldest son, to get information. The neighbor told him the police had been by the house, looking for Mark, as the registered owner of the car. She had our work contacts and provided them to the officers. Which is how Mark was informed.
I walked into a co-worker’s office and shut the door. I told her what had potentially happened and she offered to drive me home. No, just cancel my patients for the day, I asked and I left. I started calling Matt’s friends; had they heard from him? Did they know where he was? No and No.
When I arrived home I saw the devastation on David’s face, unable to believe that his brother was gone. Forever. (How is this possible?) They had played video games less than 12 hours before. He was on the stairs, crying, asking if this was real, and I had to say “yes”.
“Yes” – The worst word I ever spoke in my life. The acknowledgement that our lives would never be the same again. Ever.
I would spend the next few days in a daze. I called hospitals and coroners’ offices looking for Matthew or “John Doe”, since he didn’t have his ID with him. He left that in his car. I couldn’t sleep much and when I did lie down I kept my cell phone and house phone on my chest, just waiting for him to call.
How was this at all possible?
Well, Matthew had been diagnosed at age 12 with schizo-affective disorder. Schizophrenia with a mood disorder – in his case – depression.
So much happened since 1999 – he had graduated high school twice, was working, and in school to learn how to heal others (which, if you know Matthew, was his calling).
Now, 5 years later, I feel like a day hasn’t passed. The remembrance of the call we received is as clear as yesterday. There isn’t a difference between the day we lost Matthew and today. The emotions are as raw and as near the surface today was they were in 2007.
Though Life continues on around me, there will always be a part of me that can never move forward. Part of my heart that will remained anchored to November 15, 2007, where time with my child stopped.