A Mother’s Anguish

Tonight I had one of the worst experiences a person can have. I attended the open-casket viewing of 21 month old Matthew, a dear friend of our family and a frequent guest at our house. It was absolutely gut-wrenching to hear the racking sobs of his distraught mother standing next to him, holding his limp little body and repeating half-coherently “I don’t want to say goodbye” as she stroked his hair and held his cold little toddler hand. It tore a hole in my heart to walk past the cherubic, colorless face with eyes closed, a face that just last week had brightened our home and our lives with infinite color and eyes that then sparkled blue as he laughed and played at our feet with our children.

Matthew died in a tragic accident on Tuesday, October 2. He was playing in his backyard when he somehow got entangled in a soccer net and hung himself in his struggle to get out. His mother found him strangled in that net, severe wounds around his neck from his struggle with the strings, his face black and blue from his struggle for air, and his lips blue and his body cold and limp from his losing that struggle. It’s amazing how even a simple backyard soccer goal can turn into a death trap for an unwary toddler!

This tragedy strikes too close for comfort to home for many reasons. It is always unsettling, of course, to see death claim one so young in its unrespecting grasp. It is even worse when the young victim claimed is one I have known since he came into the world, who has often played in my home, his sweet laughter still resonating in my ears. But it is downright unbearable when that boy was the same age as my own son, and bore the same name.

As I looked at that still face staring up amidst his blankie, binkie, and favorite toys spread across him in the coffin, it was almost as though I saw there the young face of my own sweet Matt-Matt. The thought was unbearable, and the closest I could come to feeling that mother’s anguish as the cries racked her body with my wife sitting by her side, giving what comfort she could.

Sitting there, trying to take it all in, I reflected on Alma’s words in the Book of Mormon about the bittnerness of his sorrow for his sins contrasted with the sweetness of his joy upon the thought of redemption through Jesus Christ. Certainly all around me, and within my own heart, I beheld the gall of bitterness experienced by so many because of one sweet boy caught prematurely in the promise that in Adam all die because of the death ushered into the world at his fall from the Garden of Eden.

But almost concurrently with that thought came a flicker of hope at the great joy that will be experienced by so many mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters on the morning of the first resurrection when, because of the sacrifice of our Savior, all of these will rise up from the grave to die no more. I caught a vision in my mind of young Matthew on that glorious morning, the color restored to his face and glory streaming from his body, racing ecstactically towards his mother’s tearful embrace. I saw in my mind that mother on that morning, suddenly in an instant filled with joy as exquisite and sweet as her pain was bitter, the power of the Savior’s atonement having once and for all patched the hole that filled her heart these many years until that very moment when the hope of that day became reality for her. I had one glimmer of understanding to the glory of that day when the Savior will truly, once and for all, “swallow up death in victory; and . . . wipe away tears from off all faces,” and “there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

May we all be spared from such a day as experienced by this mother in anguish, a mother whose heart may never heal during this fallen lifetime. But may we also all catch the vision of that glorious morning when the Savior shall return again to comfort his people, when such mothers will be once again reunited with their sons never again to be separated. And God bless Matthew’s family at this difficult time and guide them in his paths forever.

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15 Responses to A Mother’s Anguish

  1. kip says:

    Tragic story. One question. Not to be indelicate, but was there an investigation of possible negligence?

  2. Jordan F. says:

    There was, and it was ruled out. The mother in this case is one of the most attentive mothers one will ever find. It was a tragic accident.

  3. Ray says:

    I feel like I should not share the blog location for the following, but it was posted yesterday by a dear friend of our family. I apologize for the length.

    “I don’t know how to start this blog. I’ve had so many feelings and thoughts swirling around inside me today that I don’t know how to begin. Today was our daughter’s birthday. Liz would have been four years old today.

    When we lost Liz, we felt surrounded by the love of our family and friends. So many of them seemed to know just the right thing to say and do to touch our hearts. We appreciated that love.

    My husband’s boss at the time, however, came to him one day and said, “I was sorry to hear that your baby died. Um. Well. You know, these things happen, and we move on.” Then he turned around and walked away.

    My husband was stunned. Surgeons are known for their lack of tact, but this seemed pretty insensitive. This conversation became a running joke between us–whenever something bad would happen, we would just say “these things happen, and we move on.” As time has passed, I have come to see this conversation a little differently though.

    Bad things DO happen to everyone. People lose their jobs, spouses get sick, children lose their way, and sometimes we lose the people that we love. These things happen, and the only way we can heal is to keep going, to move on. Some days it is excruciatingly painful to keep going, but we have to move forward with our lives.

    We felt overwhelmed by the love of our Heavenly Father at the time of Liz’s birth and death. As I listened to the talk given by Elder Tenorio during the Sunday afternoon conference, I understood a little how he felt when his children died. The blessings of the temple are extremely comforting. Even though it was hard to lose our child and to be faced with the possibility that we might never have children, the concept of eternal families enabled us to move forward with our lives.

    At the time that Liz died, I didn’t want the pain to go away. I thought that if I stopped hurting, that I would forget. I was wrong. As I have “moved on” the pain has lessened, but I have not forgotten our sweet baby. Today we talked to our daughter for the first time about her sister. We showed her the baby blanket and Liz’s picture and we told her that she has a sister that lives with Heavenly Father. My husband even baked a cake for Liz’s birthday and we had a little party. I was amazed at how much our small daughter understood. She was excited to have another sister and kept talking about how she has two sisters–Lynn and Liz. It was one of the sweetest experiences I have ever had.

    I have rambled for too long. The bottom line is that I AM happy. Our family is happy. I would not change the experiences that we have had and I am so grateful for our blessings.

    Happy Birthday little one!

  4. m&m says:

    Thanks for your testimony. Beautiful thoughts.

    My heart goes out to this family.

  5. john f. says:

    Thank you for this post Jordan. Allison and I have also been greatly disturbed by this tragedy. Little Matthew’s parents have been in our prayers.

  6. Adam Greenwood says:

    God be with them.

  7. Matt W. says:

    Stories like this make me want to quit my job just so I can watch my children 24-7.

    Thank God for the gospel, for making sense of all this misery.

  8. I remember seeing this story in the news and wondering.

    If I can help, give me a call, I’m just up the road.

  9. Jordan F. says:

    Thanks, Steven. I think between our ward and the other involved ward we have things well in hand, but it means a lot to know that you are thinking of us.

    We attended the funeral yesterday, which was held in a local baptist church (this family does not belong to the LDS church). However, our Bishop ran the graveyard service and dedicated the grave. It made for an interesting, though of course extremely sad, funeral.

  10. Hollie says:

    AS a mom who has experienced this kind of loss, I feel for the parents, I know what it like to question every moment of that day, to dwell on that last touch, the last smile, what has given this mom comfort has been friends who are willing just to listen and griece with me when it comes to the surface years after the fact.

  11. Andre says:

    Thank you for posting this moving testimony.

  12. john f. says:

    Andre, good to see you around here. Does this signify and end to your lurkdome?

  13. Sherry says:

    Your posting brought many tears to my eyes. The grief this mother is feeling, I’m sure is unbearable. I, too have recently came close to losing my 21 year old daughter. Actually, she’s had chronic blood diseases since age 13 and had been treated with blood transfusions, IVIG, Chemo, pretty much everything and nothing seemed to work. She’s been a real trooper but has really lived a very difficult life with all of these illnesses. She had an extremely vital stroke on September 7th which caused her to lose her speech and the movement of the right side of her mouth and face. The doctors are now saying that she has a syndrome called antiphosphilipid syndrome, anticardiolipid syndrome, among other life long APS diseases. It’s a struggle, to say the least. Just when she should be living her adulthood years, she’s now at appointments every day, taking two injections of Lovenox daily to keep her blood thin – and hopefully keeping her blood from clotting. This is her second stroke. Our family are devout LDS and we have faith in the Lord.

    I’m extremely sorry for your friends loss of her young son. We have to remember that eternity is our goal that we are striving for, of course at the time of grief it’s difficult to think of anything but the loss but time will heal.

    God bless.

  14. [...] it among the “tender mercies of the Lord” that so many spoke directly to my soul about real problems and issues I am currently facing. Here are some of the promises and quotes that touched me the most this last [...]

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