Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Pain of Losing a Child

Grace brought me the phone, “It’s for you, Mom.” Before I could even say hello I heard a very distraught voice on the other end. At first I couldn’t make out who it was or what they were trying to tell me. Then it hit me, Matthew was dead. I felt as if someone had just punched me in the stomach. My friend Donna had a hard time speaking. It was a phone call that I will never forget. She had lost her son in a tragic car accident, and there was nothing I could say that would make her feel better. I felt helpless and just listened to her as she mourned for her child.

After the phone call, I began to cry in disbelief. How could this have happened? Memories of Matthew’s childhood flooded my thoughts. Donna and her husband had been stationed here with the Navy back in the 90’s. She was my best friend, and with Dustin working nights and her husband out to sea, I spent many nights with her and her two boys, Ryan & Matthew.Matthew was “my little guy”. He was never more than a few feet away from me, unless he did something to get into trouble (which was quite often), and Donna had to put him in his room for a time-out. Even in his room serving time, he would call out for me to come and rescue him. I loved him so much. Dustin and I were still waiting for God to bless us with a child of our own, so Donna would let Matthew come home with me whenever I felt lonely or if she just needed a break from his terrible 2’s. When they finished their military service, they decided to move back to Illinois. That was a tough goodbye, but we managed to keep in touch over the years with phone calls and the occasional trips back and forth.
It will be 2 years this February since our Matthew left us so suddenly. It has been said that “Time heals all wounds” but as for my dear friend Donna, that has not been the case. She will never be the same. She still spends most of her days locked in her room away from the world, grieving for Matthew. I went to see her a few months after Matt’s death. There was a dark cloud over the house where joy once rang through the hallways. Once again, I could say nothing to make her feel better, so I just listened, cried with her, and prayed that God would ease her pain somehow.
Donna took me to the crash site, not too far from her home, where there stood 5 wooden crosses, representing Matthew and 4 of his close friends who had lost their lives on that cold February morning. She stated that they were minutes away from being safely home, before the tragic accident. You see, they had gotten into a car with a drunk driver, who was driving too fast on the icy roads. As the car spun out of control it struck a telephone pole, killing Matthew, as well as 3 of his friends instantly. Another friend, suffering from head injuries, died in the hospital a week later. It was so difficult to take it all in. The pain that the entire community was feeling was apparent everywhere we went.

I accompanied Donna to a meeting for parents who have lost a child. The pain I saw on these parents faces is something that I pray to God I will never have to experience. From one tragic story to the next, I listened and wept. When it was Donna’s turn she couldn’t even speak, so I shared her story and told them all about our beloved Matthew. I can still remember as Donna shook uncontrollably in her seat, how badly I wanted her to have some relief from this torment she was living in. I still pray for her and her family every day. Matthew is survived by his parents as well as his brother Ryan, and 2 little sisters, Kelsey and Danielle. A family that will always feel an emptiness as they gather around the table, a sadness as they approach the holiday seasons, and the constant “what if’s”, “I should have’s” and the ever haunting question, “Why?”.
Matthew would have been 19 tomorrow. Instead of finding a birthday card for Mathew from “his Alice” in the mail, Donna will find a card expressing my deepest sympathy, for this day which use to be celebrated, has now become a day of remembering a wonderful person who had to leave us too soon.
You will be forever missed, Matthew Allen Frank. I love you.

Donna and her "big" baby boy on their last vacation.

Matthew & Ryan, brothers and friends.

Matther with his sister, Kelsey.

Matthew and the youngest, Danielle.

Matt & Katie, shared the front passenger seat, both DOA.

Here's something Donna wrote in Matthew's Legacy Guestbook a month after his death. It is heartwrenching and shows the pain a mother goes through when she loses a child.

March 15, 2007
Matthew, I don't even know where to begin, In a moment and a knock at the door my life was changed forever. I feel like my heart has been broken in two and can never be fixed. I don't know how to live without you, I need you Matt! Who am I going to go to the late night show with, your the only one who liked the nice salty popcorn. And who is going to dance around in the family room with me and kelsey to "walk it out and snap your fingers" Who's going to lay in my bed and talk with me when I'm sad! I can still feel you sitting next to me in the car but instead of you turning up your cd's its me. I know you were there at the wake holding my hand, your hand was so warm. Some times I lay in your room which Ryan has now taken over (He misses you soooooo much)and just cry waiting for a sign I know there has been a few such as the date on the chucke e cheese photoboth pics(2-11-05)I'm not sure signs will ever be enough though. I miss your smile, your jokes, your hugs, your amazing personality, I have no one here trying to be my mother anymore, that was your job. You always knew when I was about to cry durring those sad movies looking at me just waiting for me to start biting my lip or the same when I was nervous about something, you knew me better than anyone. I hope you understand why I couldn't only be your best friend but had to be your mother as well. I'm sorry if I failed you in any way I only wanted what was best for you and I know you didn't always agree,your not suppose to, your the kid. I'm sorry I wasn't there for you that night I'm sorry if you were scared I know how scared you are of being hurt and when I saw you that morning you looked so scared,so broken.And I felt so helpless, this was something I couldn't fix. I just don't know how to accept that your never comming home again.Which again left me feeling helpless I'm your mom and I have no control to make you come home anymore. How as a mother do I accept this lack of control I no longer have. I never knew a heart could hurt as much as mine does. You remember how much I use to miss scott if he went away on buisness or camping even after a couple of hours well he went away for 10 days and I miss you soooomuch there is no room left to miss him. I MISS MY BABY BOY SO MUCH!It just isn't right I'm suppose to be waiting for you not you waitng for me. If I could only turn back the hands of time, but I can't I'm so sorry baby boy I love you more than you'll ever know. With you,you have taken a huge part of me. YOU WILL ALWAYS BE MISSED AND LOVED NEVER FORGOTTEN by all who knew you. Love always, MOMMY

Matthews Mom (Oswego, IL)


Kat said...

Thank you for sharing the whole story. Hopefully a teenager or anyone else for that matter will take it to heart.

Sorry for your loss.

Tom and April said...

I will try to remember this family in my prayers. Thank you for sharing this with me. I too hope this can be a great impact to teens lives.

One Happy Family said...

May the Lord work mightily in Donna's life as a result of this tragedy.

Sally Ann said...

That made me cry. I can't imagine how hard that would be! :(
I pray God would ease her pain.