This morning 13 year old Will Matthews, a student at Calvary Baptist Academy, passed away.
As usual, when faced with news of a young person dying- my mind drifts back 9 years to the death of Caleb Smith. Obviously, you don’t know who this is- he was my cousin, and he died when he was 2 years old.
I was 11, and a 6th grader at Caddo Middle Magnet at the time. I remember the day like it was yesterday… I was swimming at a neighborhood friend’s house, worrying about going underwater and having to re-curl my hair for church that night. My sister pulled up on her bike and yelled at me to come home, that something was wrong with Caleb. I hopped on my bike, and went home. We got there and were getting off our bikes when my Mom came flying out the door. She said the worst words I’ve ever heard in my life- “Caleb’s dead.” The one hour drive to Natchitoches was the longest drive I’ve ever been on.
As an 11 year old, my only experience with death was old people- a baby wasn’t supposed to die. It was definitely a changing point in my life.
9 years later and I cannot say that I am over Caleb’s death. I went through the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and to some degree, acceptance. But do we ever really “get over” losing a loved one? Would we ever actually want to?
Caleb’s death taught me a lot about life, the most important being that timeless cliche’: live like you were dying. I know it sounds simple, but sometimes its hard not to follow this simple piece of advice. we get weighted down with the everyday concerns, annoyances, stresses, and work. But living, truly living, is the best way to honor the memory of those we have lost.
The infinity sign is broken, to represent “To Infinity, and Beyond.” Usually when I say this to people, they kind of laugh and say “Toy Story?” But they are right- it is a Toy Story reference. That was Caleb’s favorite movie, and he was always jumping off of coffee tables, chairs, and couches, with a Walmart sack “cape”, yelling that phrase as loud as he could. Thats what I wanted to remember- that at 2 years old, you think you can fly. I never want to lose that belief that I can do anything, if I only try. Every time I get discouraged, I look down at my wrist and I remember- I can do whatever I put my mind to, I just have to believe and try.
So, to the friends and family of Will Matthews, I urge you to remember Will in this way: by living your life to the fullest. Honor his memory by making the most of your time here on earth. We have seen how suddenly and unexpectedly life can end, and we must live out our lives knowing that any breath could be our last. We will grieve, and we should, but we must never loose sight of the fact that our loved ones are in a better place.
My thoughts and prayers go out to Will’s family and friends, I know all too well the pain they are going through… but the best advice I have seen was on Facebook this morning, it said: