Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I Will Remember You

Recently I posted a blog about losing my cousin to suicide. Last week I traveled 300 miles to attend his funeral. I knew this was going to be hard and very emotional, so I tried to prepare myself. I don't think there is a way to prepare for something like this. Some aspects of the whole funeral process were just as hard as I thought they would be, and some were harder.

The day before the funeral there was a viewing at the funeral home. Before attending I was unsure if this was something I wanted to attend. I wasn't sure if I needed to see him. I didn't know if this would bring closure. I am still unsure how I feel about it. In some ways I am glad I got to say goodbye but in some ways I worry that it may have changed my final memory of my cousin.

My last living memory of Matthew was from last Christmas Eve. Each year we all get together and have a holiday celebration with food, gifts and games. Each year we end up playing the card game, "Pit." We all love it, it is loud and chaotic and just the best time. Last year was the first year that I can remember Matthew playing with us. There are a few things about playing that game that night that stick out in my mind. One being all of us laughing hysterically, seriously. I have a video that my step-dad shot with my camera of all of us just cracking up. The other memory is of me sharing a bit too much info about my fear of cows, (seriously, they are just scary.) I remember everyone laughing and making fun of me about it. It didn't bother me, it is all a part of being a member of a huge extended family. I will never forget Matthew kept saying how he was going to get me something with a cow head on it next Christmas. Now that will never happen. But, the memory of the conversation gives me comfort. I feel like that memory and that conversation is mine to keep, no one can touch it. I will carry it with me always.

Memories are funny things. Some memories you can never erase no matter how hard you try and some are fleeting like time.

I was there when my Uncle (also my Godfather) saw Matthew for the first time at the viewing and that memory will forever be etched in my mind. It broke my heart to watch him crumble in the doorway and have to be held up by my parents. It broke my heart to watch him say goodbye to his son, to a piece of him. But, what struck me the most was what he had the clarity of mind to say after. He said, "I thought I was complete and then I met Leslie, (my aunt) then I thought I was complete, then we had Matthew ... then I was complete. How do I go on without him?"

Through all the heartbreak I saw the human spirit triumph through faith and love. My family is so important to me, I saw everyone band together to support each other, I also saw that my Aunt and Uncle's faith in God will get them through this as well as their love for each other. In my heart I know we will all be OK and will find a way to live without Matthew in our lives but he will live on forever in our hearts and memories. Matthew will forever be with me.

I don't think saying goodbye to him has changed my final memory. I still see him playing Pit and laughing. That is how I will remember him always.

Matthew Hopkins
March 26, 1993 - April 21, 2009