Monday, November 4, 2013

Matthew, we miss you

November 5, 2013

Matt, it is 35 years since you were born. I remember that day very well, anticipating whether you would turn around or if your mom would need a Caesarean section. Turned out you didn’t, and she did, and when you came out I can never remember being happier. I called your grandparents and when asked what (i.e., what sex) I said “It’s a baby!”. I loved you so much, and I still do and I miss you because you are not 35 years old, you are no longer with us. I can only imagine how you might be now that would be different from you were at 24. I can look around at your friends and lovers, at Erin and Tequia and Joe and see what they are doing, and look at Adam who is 31 and has a good and interesting job and is going to be marrying Jess and wonder how you might be, and all I can think of is that you would be you. Smart, and caring, and kind, and sometimes, unfortunately for the rest of us, too silent about the most important things that were going on in your mind.

The world is in many ways a different place than it was 11 years ago, at least measured by the rapid pace of technological change. You never had a cell phone (that was by choice); now everyone has one, and a “smart” phone at that, and is on Facebook and email. Of course, you wouldn’t have liked the intrusion into your life when you didn’t want it; you were the original “12 messages on the answering machine! Too many! Delete all!”.  You have also been spared the 1984 intrusion of both government and corporations into all our email and web activities and phone calls, which you would have hated. But, I think, fundamentally, you would have been the same, both because who you were, we all are, is much deeper than these ephemeral changes, and because you never had great optimistic expectations for how the world would change. Yes, values, no question about it, but you never let your values cloud your understanding of the probable direction in which we were headed. Indeed, while I can never know this, I believe that this was no small part of the most significant decision that you ever made, to end your life.
 
Andrea is now married to Cheryl; we went to the ceremony in DC where they live now, and Stefanie and Paul came as well as Sarah, and her husband James who you never met, and their daughter Sabine who I had never met. Andrea and Cheryl seem so happy!
But, you see, we needed you, and we need you. The world has Adam, and Jess, and Erin, and lots of other wonderful people, but there are never enough. You wisdom is missed, and your love. At the last (outstanding) Matthew Freeman Lecture in Social Justice, I talked with Heather, and she told me about how some things you had told her long ago were helpful to her now. I can’t talk about the details, but you know. They have asked me to be on the Board of Trustees of Roosevelt, and I have accepted, and now I have an excuse to go to Chicago to see Adam and Jess four times a year, and (at least for now) see the block where they live, that Cathy and I lived on before you were ever conceived!


I see other people’s children, and young people that I work with, medical students and residents growing ever younger, younger mostly than you or Adam, and I think about you every day and I miss you so much. I wish you were here. And I love you.