Matthew and his brother Christopher were the second set of twins in my family. We were over-joyed when my Aunt Vicky finally announced we had some boys to add to the girl heavy family! The boys were born premature, but my, what spirits they both had! From an early age, I remember noting to myself, the joy and humor they found in life!
As time passed, Christopher advanced more quickly than Matthew, but that never seemed to hold Matthew back. Both boys were such a joy, and so happy too! I remember “test” babysitting at the age of 17 when the boys were 2. Matthew sitting in his wheel chair, wearing his trachea, glasses and hearing aids had the whole world fooled upon first glance. But once I got close, I saw his old soul and the mischief that bubbled beneath his snowy white skin. Was it the unruly curly blonde hair?
We looked at each other in askance wondering what to do next…Within seconds, he ripped off his glasses and threw them across the room. I retrieved the glasses and signed “No!” to him. He giggled his challenge and then removed his hearing aid and threw it across the room. Seriously!?! I was not about to be outdone by this wild child! But he had other ideas… While I was chasing his hearing aid, his giggles started in earnest when he threw his other hearing aid clear across the other side of the room!!! Humph! It was a battle of wills. I just looked at him, shocked and a little befuddled! What do I do next?
His giggles were so infectious! I couldn’t help but giggle with him, but seriously! This was a child. They need to obey! So I signed, “No!” in my most earnest face. Yeah, that did him in… that little stinker. He looked at me as if to finalize the challenge and then removed the port for his trachea. Sheer panic set in. I called for reinforcements, “Aunt Vicki…help!!!!” She quickly came to rescue and tried to coach me in tracheal port reinsertion. But with every approach, and every attempt I made at putting it back in, he scrunched his chin down and started giggling non-stop! Luckily Aunt Vicky was there to get the madness under control, though she too was giggling a bit.
This is one of my most favorite memories of Matthew. I sit here writing this and cannot believe that it has taken me this long to memorialize such a hilarious memory! But sadly, a couple of years after our adventure together, he was made an Angel to look down upon us. I was there at the hospital and saw his little body finally give away to the struggles that plagued him. He looked so peaceful. Though I was wracked with grief for me and for our family, I wondered if and when he would choose to contact me.
I was no stranger, even at the age of 19, to the contact of those gone before us. To this day my grandfather graces me and others in my family by the smell of his cherry vanilla pipe tobacco. I receive Rainbows in the midst of heartache from my Grandmother. And my Great Aunt Freda visited me in my sleep when I was about 12 years old to tell me first that she had passed on, and that she left me a pin. So naturally, I wondered, what would Matthew do?
Years have come and gone. I have been visited by a couple of others through various means, but still nothing from Matthew. Never at the front of my mind, but always a wondering (mostly when attending a funeral)…Where was Matthew?
And then it happened…
I had a couple of really difficult weeks at work. I was tired and had a lot on my mind. I am now 32 with a stressful career, a husband and a son of my own. For the first night in months, I had woken with the hugest smile! And then the largest heartache and headache to wonder how you tell a still grieving mother, 13 year later, you heard from her deceased child; and then that it was the most wonderful experience. She cheerfully led me to you to share my story.
There are all kinds of mediums that I have been contacted by others. Matthew came to me in very real form while I was in a twilight sleep. I walked into a hospital pediatric type ward. However, I knew that it was not a hospital, but more of a child’s sleeping ward. The room was warm in feeling and slightly glowing. The room was full of bunk beds and children ranging in age quietly playing.
I entered the room just observing for a moment, when a child’s hand reached out to me from my right. I looked over and was blown away! It was Matthew! There he was in his bed and smiling so brightly! I remember saying, “Hey buddy! What are you doing here?!?” He never gave a response, just smiled at me and grabbed for me to lay down with him. We laid and giggled and then I read him a book. And much to my chagrin, he kept grabbing the book and twisting with it. I kept trying to distract him to stop, but he wouldn’t. I finally said, “Matthew! Stop! Buddy, I don’t want you to twist up and ruin your cords and tubing!” He looked at me with a puzzled expression, and then I really looked and actually saw that he was no longer attached to cords, wires, and tubing! He grinned that charming grin of his when he realized I finally saw that those things were no longer needed.
We laid and cuddled and played for some time after that. He kept pushing his feet against my hands and I kept thinking how strong he was! Matthew never said a word, just reassured me that he was a happy, cheery, healthy child. But he laughed. I can hear his laughter ringing in my ears. But mostly, I can still feel the strength and joy from him.
All of a sudden there was an older man that appeared in the room. At first glance he looked like a doctor, but as I looked closer he appeared as a fatherly care-taker to these children. He looked at me taking off his glasses and said, “Christine! What are you doing here!?” He was so familiar with my given name (I go by Christy to most people). I made my apologies but he was so kind and smiled, encouraging me on my way.
This was the difficult part. I knew I didn’t belong there and had to leave, but part of me didn’t want to leave Matthew. However, the bigger part of me knew that I was leaving him in a wonderful place. I turned again to Matthew, snuggled him in his bed, tucked him into his yellow blanket, and gave him kisses telling him that I loved him. I smoothed down his unruly curly blond hair once more before turning away…
Before leaving, I socialized and played with the other children in the room, commenting on books, dollies and trains; all the while, making my exit under the watchful eye of the kind Doctor. I never remember fully leaving the room, more like easing from the cloud of it; the joy and warmth wrapping me as I woke.
I now know without a doubt, 13 years later, Matthew is the happiest he has ever been. I cannot wait until he visits me again!
~For Vicky, Mark and Christopher with love
~Submitted by Christine P.