Have you ever experienced such tragedy that you felt like your entire world had just stopped spinning? Completely. Your days pass as a blur. You feel like the weights in your chest are cutting off your air supply. Your throat feels like it is tightening, almost completely closed. You want to smile again, to be happy, but every ounce of guilt in the world tries to hold you back, it ties you down.
This is what I mean when I say my world stopped spinning, but time kept ticking..
Two years ago to this date, I was sitting at the kitchen table at mom’s house. Just chatting before we had to go to work for the night. That’s when mom’s phone rang.
It was my sister, Aysia..
All I heard was her crying, hysterical. I heard a muffled, “…Mat is under water..” And again, she said it. But this time more clearly, “Dylan and Mat are under water”.
In that very moment, I watched my mom’s face drop. At the same time, I felt my heart stop.
My chest became heavy, my throat felt tight. (I might say that often throughout this, but just know the pain I felt is impossible to put into words. These are the only ones I feel remotely fitting).
But I told myself, you guys were okay. This was a joke. Everything will be just fine.
We got into that little HHR mom calls a vehicle, you know Dylan, the one we always called the mob ride ’cause we expected someone to jump out with some Tommy Guns and suits.
We drove to Sturgeon Bay.. The entire drive we prayed. Prayed that everything was okay.
I kept calling Aysia. I kept asking what was going on.
The first call she had nothing…
The second call she said they had you guys out of the water…
My hopes went up.
The third call I asked how long you guys were under, she said, “I’ll let them tell you”.
See, I thought you were fine when she said that. I imagined getting to the hospital and you two would be laughing it off.
We stopped at London’s school to pick her up early. We called ahead to have them get her ready so we could just swing in and grab her. We tried to tell her there was an accident. But she didn’t fully understand, or maybe she didn’t want to.
I didn’t blame her, I still don’t.
We finally made it. The second we walked in that hospital they brought us to a private waiting room.
I lost it right there.
Right fucking there, everything came out. I cried. And I cried some more. I watched Aysia cry. I watched mom cry. I watched as my six year old niece looked so confused.
They brought us back by you guys. Aysia went in by Mat. Mom and I went in by Dylan. London stayed back with the chaplain lady.
I understand everyone views this day differently, but this is what I felt. This is what I seen. This is how I broke. This is how my world stopped.
We sat by your side Dylan, we watched them beat on your chest. I stared into your slightly opened eyes. I cried. Mom held your hand. I grabbed your arm. I cried more.
You were so fucking cold. I couldn’t breathe while I begged for you to take a breath. I begged you to open your eyes. I just wanted you to wake up.
The nurses would yell, “clear,” but I was in a zone until another nurse pulled my hands away from you.
This went on for what seemed like eternity..
A nurse came up and put her arms around me. A complete stranger. She kept saying, “I’m here for you, its okay“. But I was so focused on you. Waiting for you to wake up.
Then the real nightmare began, the doctor came in and said, “I’m sorry. We tired everything. There is nothing more we can do”.
I absolutely lost it. I cried, “don’t fucking say that!” And just kept repeating it. As if saying that would change what was happening..
Mom got sick. And I mean physically sick.
I stepped out of the room, I felt like I couldn’t breathe.
There Aysia stood, “Mat didn’t make it”.
I cried so fucking much. I hugged my sister, for honestly probably the first time since mom used to make us hug if we fought when we were kids. We both cried and all I could manage to say was, “who is going to tell me I’m the middle child, I don’t count”.
I went back to the waiting room they put us in, I sat with London. Now came time for phone calls..
I called dad at work, I told him there was an accident. And that you guys didn’t make it. He hung up on me..
I called Preston, no answer.
I called grandma Dohr, I could hear her voice crack as she said she had to go..
Incoming call, it was Preston… I answered and just started babbling on and then the phone went silent. Another hang up.
I panicked and called your buddy from the Marines, Brandt. He answered and gave me a quick laugh asking what you did this time…. but when I told him, he went silent. I asked to talk to whoever was in charge of you. I don’t know the Marines chain of command. But I eventually got on the phone with someone important. I told him everything..
I called Brandon, I didn’t want to bother him but he was the only person I wanted to talk to. He drove five hours across the state to be there that night. I could never thank him enough for that.
I called Kelsey and Kayla. And my last call for the day was to one of your best friends… My heart broke even more with each call. My chest got heavier. My throat felt smaller.
By this point, I no longer knew who to call.. my mind went blank..
I was numb.
I was sitting in that waiting room with London and she looked at me and said, “I know Mat and Uncle are in heaven, but they’re back there too, *pointing towards the hallway* there is two of my Mats and two of my uncles”.
Bless her little soul. I cried more.
We said goodbye..
We went to Aysia’s house and cried more.
Phone calls coming in. Text messages coming in.
Brandon showed up with Preston. We cried more.
The Marines showed up to talk to mom…
This nightmare, this was real. This is my life now..
I have never felt such pain, yet nothing at all, like I did that day.
And now, it has been seven hundred and thirty days.
That’s how many days my mind has wondered.
How many memories have flashed through my head.
That’s how many days my heart has had this empty void.
How many times I’ve felt this empty weight in my chest.
That’s how many nights I fought back tears as I laid in my bed.
How many days my life has re shattered..
How many mornings I had to wake up just to remember this isn’t just a nightmare and force myself out of bed.
That’s how many days I had to learn to live a life I never thought I would have to, a life without you.
For months people either talked to me like we were best friends because they wanted to know the inside stories of my family. And then the others ignored my complete existence because they didn’t know what to say to me..
To you, Mathew,
You came into my sister’s life, and you made her so happy. You came into my nieces life as a stranger, and left as a father.
You changed their lives forever, and I couldn’t thank you enough for all of the incredible things you have done for them.
Oh, how I wish you could meet your other daughter, she is one little character. Your baby girl is a gift to this world. She has no idea what kind of miracle she is. But I can promise you, she will learn one day, and she will never forget.
You left your mark on these girls, you are forever in their hearts.
You are their world. They need you now more than ever.
But that’s not all, you left your mark on this world. Life will never be the same without you, and so many people here have been affected by this.
Mathew, you are missed so dearly by so many.
Rest easy beautiful angel and protect your beautiful ladies from above. ❤️
To you, Dylan,
Life without you has been a struggle Dylan. You were my worst enemy and my best friend all in one growing up. Just like any sibling should be. But I would say as we got older you became my best friend.
I called you for everything while you were stationed in California. I remember face-timing you while you were overseas, we watched 13 Hours in Benghazi together during that face-time.
You were always my go to person, no matter what kind of day I was having I knew you could crack a joke and make me laugh. I wish I could have been there for you that day. I miss you so fucking much.
Every time i talk about you, I talk about you as if you are still here. It’s a habit I will never try to break.
Your goofy laugh will never be forgotten. And that silly smile of yours as well.
I love bud. Forever.❤️
Seven hundred and thirty days is a long time, but to me, it still feels like yesterday…
The pain still feels fresh in my soul. I can still hear your voices. I swear I see your faces in the crowds. I do a double take..
My heart re breaks.
I remember your goofy personalities.. I cry.
I reminisce all the good times, I smile with tears in my eyes.
I think about you guys, every day.
Over these last seven hundred and thirty days, I realized how much I hate when people say, “it’ll get easier” or “the good ones go too soon” all of those stupid fucking cliches. They piss me off to my core. The fact that you two are gone does not get easier, I have learned to deal with it in my own ways. But this will never be easy, life without you two will always be a struggle..