Last night, I received news that has shaken me to my core. There is just no other way to describe it. A young man who my son played baseball with ended his life. He was 20 years old. What? How can this be? We haven’t seen this young man in about 2 years, since high school baseball. And yet, I can still see his face, smiling from ear to ear, joking around with my boy. I can see the way his eyes would light up when he pitched well, and the way he would hang his head when he didn’t.
We first met this wonderful young man seven years ago, when he and my son were in Pony League. He was a pitcher and back up catcher when needed. My son was a catcher. They got along well. And he was the kind of kid who always had a smile on his face.
And I can’t believe I am writing about one of my son’s teammates using the word was. I just can’t come to grips with this. And I am not related to, or even a close friend of, this family. But there was just always something I liked about that kid. He was special. He would always say hi to my Nick, and give him a high 5. He would never walk by Nick without greeting him, and no matter how he played, he always spoke with anybody who approached him to tell him how great he performed. He was kind.
What the hell happened?!?
This is not supposed to happen to kids just starting their lives. What could have been so bad that he couldn’t see past that moment?
He was surrounded by people who loved him. I saw his grandparents within the past year and they were beaming about how wonderful he was doing in college, what a great kid he was. I was so happy to hear that. He looked like he was heading in the right direction.
But what steered him off course?
My son just saw him less than 2 months ago. They chatted and all seemed fine.
He is the first of my son’s friends to die.
And then I thought, “Oh God..if him…could my son?”
I have hugged Matthew stronger in the past twenty-four hours than I have in a long time. I keep sending him texts, calling him…letting him know how much I love him. I keep telling him that there is nothing that he can’t come to me about. And I am terrified that my son could think of taking his life as an option now.
And I know there are no guarantees, yet that doesn’t stop me from wanting one. I keep thinking about what his parents are going through right now….all of the questions, and they all begin with “why?”
Why would he do this?
Why didn’t he turn to his parents for help?
Why didn’t he see that it wouldn’t always seem so dark?
Why didn’t he know how much his leaving would hurt those around him?
Why didn’t anyone see this coming?
And every question leads me back to what I know. I know that life is precious. I know I am blessed to have these three sons that I have. I know I have to tell them every day how much they are loved and how wonderful they really are.
And I know that every minute I have with them is a gift, and I better be sure not to waste a single moment.