When your child is laid in your arms for the first time, you look into their innocent eyes and see the promise of a lifetime of experiences. As I prepared for Matthew's arrival, I dreamed of all the great times his childhood would hold. Playing tball and soccer for the first time. His first day of kindergarten. I wondered what kinds of friends he would choose. What kind of foods would he like. There was so much we couldn't wait to share with this new little being. I don't think I ever put much time or thought into anything other than the positives. It was just assumed everything would be perfect and we would be in control of his little life and destiny. Boy was I wrong. God had this under control and had other, even greater plans, for Matthew. No where in my mental preparations did I give thought to the first time he would ask me, "Mommy, does that mean I died?"
Matthew's life, just like every other child, has been filled with many "firsts." Some of these I wish would have been erased. His first IV, first surgery, first Christmas in the hospital. But, I truly realize this is the path we were meant to walk. And no one understands it better, or puts in into clearer perspective, than my sweet 11 year old.
There was a day in the spring of 2007 that will be etched into the minds of my husband, closest friends, and myself forever. It was on that spring morning that we stood at my son's hospital bedside and prayed for God not to take him as we feared he was passing from this earth. A time when his eyes rolled back into his head and went completely unresponsive and lethargic. It was noted in his medical chart that he had an episode, during an interval of several harrowing minutes, which could not be explained. After a full CT of his brain, we had a neurologist give us a simple answer of sometimes there are just things that can't be explained medically.
That time interval of just a few minutes has changed our lives in ways that could not be imagined. It was nearly a month after Matthew's experience when he shared it with us. During that time, we knew there was something very heavy weighing on his little soul. Initially we thought it was just the stress and worry of knowing he had been so sick and in the hospital. On the night he finally shared what had been plaguing his soul, it was as though a load of bricks were lifted off his shoulders. From then on, our lives had different meaning to all of us. It was a change of nothing but positive. We knew that Matthew had a life of purpose. My husband and I had feared we were losing Matthew on that spring morning. After he woke up, we were relieved and then moved forward to continue to try and understand what was making him sick. We did not give any further thought to that specific episode after the neurologist assured us he had not had a stroke or had not slipped into a coma briefly.
It wasn't until the bravery Matthew showed by sharing his experience, did I really come full circle and know just exactly how close we came to losing him. I will say we all live a life of purpose now and have a strong desire to give back and help others. His story has helped many people already, privately, to heal and understand the peace and beauty that is on the other side. The prospect of his story being able to help thousands more after his story is finally shared publicly is amazing. On March 11, 2014, people will have the opportunity to know the full path of events.