Well, since I have a new day job (It’s an office job, so I get to sit down……YAY!), I decided to change the release day of MSFMS to Saturday. And what better time to do it than this week. You see, today has a heavy meaning to it for me. You may remember I’ve mentioned, here and there, that my best friend from high school completed suicide. Well, today makes it three years since the possibility of the three stooges (Matthew, Shawn, and I.) was suddenly taken away. I don’t know if I could ever explain how much I wish Matthew was still here on this earth to talk to while we deal with this MS challenge. Hopefully, what you are about to read will help anyone who doesn’t know about him, understand what he meant to me. I wrote this just a day or two after receiving the news. Some of you have read it before, others have not. This was Matthew Beetz, at least to me it was.
It was late summer, before my freshman year in high school. I was depressed.Through junior high, most of the friends I had had in grade school had left me behind. Whether it was the fact they were excelling in sports, the realization of the difference in our skin color, or just simply part of the ‘popular’ crowd, they had decided I did not fit into their scene. I would walk around town for hours listening to music on the walkman I had scraped together enough money to buy. I had no idea that this ritual would end up changing my life forever. This ritual would introduce me to a friendship that would last for decades, and give me the second of my adopted families. And trust me, the word ‘adopted’ does not diminish the meaning of the word ‘family’. I know that better than anyone.
One late summer night, while Billy Joel blasted into my ears through the headphones, I was startled so severely, my walkman fell to the pavement disconnecting from the headphones. What startled me was a large husky that had emerged from the front steps of the house I was passing. It looked mean. Like it simply wanted to have me for a snack.
“Don’t worry about her. She sounds tough, but she’s really just a softy.”
At the top of the steps was a kid who looked my age, but I didn’t recognize him from junior high. It sounded like he had some sort of an accent. I figured he was probably from out of town, since it seemed everyone knew everyone else in the tiny farm town.
“You can pet her if you want. She’s just excited and wants to say ‘hi’.
All I could manage to say was, “Are you sure?”
“Trust me, she’ll most likely just roll onto her back and make you rub her belly. She loves that. I’m Matt, That’s Nanook.”
For some reason, I trusted him. Sure enough, as I approached closer, Nanook rolled over to one side to expose her furry belly and panted happily as I began to pet her.
As I pet Nanook, I told him my name and asked where he was from. When he told me he was from the area, I asked about his accent. When he revealed that his speech was due to the fact he was partially deaf, he seemed a little surprised that all I said in response was, “Wow, what’s that like?”
He responded with a simple, “I don’t know. I never knew any different.”
He offered me a seat, and something to drink from inside. He said it was his grandparents place, but they wouldn’t mind. I accepted the offer, and we ended up sitting there for hours on the concrete walls of his grandparents house talking, laughing, and finding out we were about to start high school together. He had spent junior high at the catholic school in town, which is why I didn’t recognize him from school.
From that point on, we were almost inseparable. If you saw one of us, you usually saw both of us.
A few years later, when Shawn, who we have always called Nacho, started high school, we were made the complete trio that friends and family would call ‘The Three Musketeers’ or ‘The Three Stooges’ depending on the situation. No matter how far away we ended up from each other, that togetherness stayed with us. Together, as more than friends. Together as brothers.
We’ve lost one of those brothers, in the worst way anyone can imagine. I don’t know exactly how to process this yet. I can only hope that what everyone says, that it will get better with time, is true. Right now, I can’t imagine how it can be true, but I guess we all have to deal with it somehow. And we’ll have to see what time brings. Right now, the only comfort I have in the situation is that I am not alone. We are not alone feeling this. We have our collective family. We have our brother Brian. We have our brother, Shawn. Our sisters Christina and Dianna. Our mothers, Margaret, Peggy, and Barbara. We have Bill, who was our sole father figure in this family. Thanks to a much happier day just over fifteen years ago, we have our sister, Elizabeth. And we have all the rest of our family and the wonderful friends who have become part our memories throughout the years. We will all remember and grieve over Matthew in our own way. But we all do it together. Please never forget that. We all do this together.