Yesterday dawned with the wonderful promise of a new day. My younger son was up at 6 a.m. and off to school on the bus 35 minutes later to face a couple semester finals. My older son awoke at 11:30 a.m. and spent the next half hour shaking the cobwebs loose and surfing the internet.
As usual, I was at my desk sporadically looking out the window at our cul-de-sac around noon when I heard sirens on the main street behind our house. That noise was about to shatter our little neighborhood’s formerly safe, secure world.
First, an ambulance raced over to a neighbor’s house, quickly followed by a firetruck. Then four sheriff’s cars turned the corner at breakneck speed. Something horrible had happened a mere four houses away from mine across the street.
As I gathered with some of my neighbors, we watched the ambulance leave empty. An obviously distraught father drove up and ran into his home. Then the unthinkable: A police officer wrapped yellow crime scene tape around the front of the house. We looked at each other with red-rimmed eyes. Bad news. Very, very bad news.
Finally, we got the information that all of us had feared: The older son, Matthew, had committed suicide. He was only 17 years old, a senior at a nearby private school. I thought back to when we first moved to our subdivision 14 years ago. I met Matthew’s mom soon after, and we formed a play group with some of the other moms and preschoolers. I remember when his little brother Eric was born. It was nice to think that my sons would grow up with other kids close in age.
Unfortunately, with Matthew and Eric attending a private school, we didn’t see them around the neighborhood very much. But my last memory of Matthew is how much he enjoyed our subdivision’s annual crawfish boil last spring.
That was a mere six or seven months ago. Now we were watching the mortuary workers wheel out his body. I don’t think I’ve ever felt sadder or more helpless. This wonderful day had turned to one of horror. Matthew’s pain had ended; his family’s will go on forever.
Last night I made sure to hug my sons tightly, reminding them how much I love them. Hug your loved ones if you can and please keep my neighbors in your thoughts.
Rest in peace, Matthew.