Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Conflicted heart

For the last 7 1/2 years I have shared my grief, anger, rage, pain, and sorrow. I have also shared my joy, excitement, opportunities and happiness. Life really is like a box of chocolates. A mix of everything. And of course...you never know what your going to get.

For the most part, we have tried to do what we believe Matt would want us to do. To move forward in a positive way. Often times, this has been extremely difficult. We thank God and all of our amazing family and friends for helping to make moving forward even a possibility. 

On April 12th we were notified that Matt's murderer was FINALLY denied the Writ of Habeas Corpus that he and his attorney had filed for the 2nd time. We are very relieved. I know that this is not the end of his appeals but I feel confident that he will continue to be denied.

I was taught this saying many years ago... "There but for the grace of God go I". I can relate to this on a deep level. I was a mess when I was young. No, I never killed anyone although I believe that I could have. I was making one poor decision after another. I was lost and full of fear. I thank God every day that I finally asked for help and began to make better decisions. My life changed. I had to make a decision to do things in a way that I had never done before. I had to change my thinking and my behavior. Gods mercy allowed me to be a good mother to my children and wife to my husband. I was blessed with many amazing relationships that I will cherish forever. 

Over a year ago I was asked to speak to men who have been sentenced to life in prison at California State Prison Solano. I share with them what it has been like since my only son Matt was murdered. I tell them how Matt's murderer is not remorseful at all. As a matter of fact, he is still trying to get a new trial which causes more anguish and pain for all of us. I share how my family was nearly torn apart due to the grief, anger and pain that this murderer of our beloved Matt caused. I tell them how Matt wanted to help young people grow up happy and successful. How he was trying to help stop the violence. I tell them that Matt wanted to lead in a positive way instead of a negative way. And He was doing that until this man decided to shoot him. Why?


The decision this man made on that September night 7 1/2 years ago changed our lives and the lives of so many forever and for generations to come on both sides. I see these convicted murderers that  I am speaking to cry as I cry. They approach me afterward and apologize for what their actions have caused their victims families and their own families. They share with me the hurt they feel knowing they can not change or take back what they have done. They can only try and live differently now. My heart begins to soften and open. I am reminded of the quote once again, "There but for the grace of God go I". I feel some peace. I have hope for restoration. 


I was asked to come back to the prison for a check presentation to The Matt Garcia Foundation. Some of the men are in a group called the Prison Outreach Program (POP). A food fundraiser is conducted every year and the POP program decides which children's charity they would like to donate the proceeds to. The foundation was selected as one of the non-profits chosen. The check was nearly $8,000. Our foundation is overwhelmed with gratitude.


 A picture of myself, the incarcerated men from the POP program along with the large check was  sent to me today. In the photo we are all smiling and happy. I realized that one of the men is the convicted murderer of my dear friends son. That same man is also the brother of another friend that I grew up with. How do I not have a conflicted heart? I believe in restoration because I have been restored. But, would I feel the same way if he were my sons murderer? Am I saying to myself that it is too late for these men to change the way they think and act? I believe anyone who is willing to take responsibility for their actions, can change. I have seen it over and over again for 26 years. I have also watched the devastation, destruction, and pain of those who do not take responsibility. Due to the fact that Henry Don Williams did not make a decision to change his thinking nor his actions/behavior my son is dead. Again, how do I reconcile that?


 I was in contact with one of the other people involved in Matt's murder. He is serving a 15 to life sentence for his participation. I was cleared to go visit him although he changed his mind as my visit date approached. I do know that if he had not gone to the police we may never have found out who shot Matt. For that, I am grateful. 


It's a very small world and whether we like it or not we are all connected. I spoke with my beautiful friend and shared with her that I met her sons killer. I also sent my other friend the picture from prison with her brother and myself and all the men from the Prison Outreach Program. I will continue to pray and ask God for guidance, clarity and peace for us all. My heart is feeling a little less conflicted now. 



Monday, February 22, 2016

One step forward and two steps back

This picture is of 246 pages filed by Matt's killer to the appellate court. Just this morning I was mentioning to a friend  that I WILL NOT allow Matt's killer to take anymore of us. He has tried and nearly succeeded in destroying our family.

 I continue to pray and ask God for guidance. I am confused and angry that this continues to haunt us. I feel completely powerless. I find myself questioning EVERYTHING.

My life has been about restoration and hope. I share with other women that forgiveness is the key to a happy life. I have struggled with walking my talk while living this nightmare.

It has been hard to accept the fact that I will not see my son again. I know I will see him again one day and I do try and find comfort in that, but it doesn't always work. Especially, when faced with the constant plotting from Matt's killer. I just don't get it?

I'm grateful to have people and places to share these struggles with. Everyday, my husband and I pray for Matt's killer and all of those involved in his murder. I never thought I would or could ever do that.

So, thank you to all of you for being there for our family. It means so much to us. I will continue writing, talking, yelling and doing whatever I need to do in order to move forward. Even if moving forward sometimes feels like I'm stepping backward.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Grief is a lifelong process

I used to blog nearly every month. It's now been since August. I decided to write this morning because the world is filled with so much pain, hurt, sadness and anger. A lot like the way I feel nearly every day. I find myself constantly searching for things and ways to help me to "FEEL BETTER"!

 Don't get me wrong, I am genuinely happy and feel love too. Our family has been blessed with  much love and support from so many people. How could I not feel love?  Although, I still have that space within my heart that feels like it is trying to squeeze out the happy space. When you add my mind into this equation it becomes a battle of good vs evil.

Some of  the many things that I have tried to combat this constant battle is; prayer, support groups, speaking and writing, painting, and exercise. Some of the not so positive things I've tried is; shopping, eating, sleeping, stuffing my feelings, throwing things, yelling and denial. Basically, self sabotage. None of which has lessened this hole within myself.

I am writing this to myself and to all the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and other loved ones dealing with the never ending effects of grief from loss. I do know now that I can't wish it away. I can't eat it away. I  have to learn to deal with it on a daily basis. Many days are good. I can and do feel happiness, joy and love. I just have to accept that the grief hole will always be there.

I do believe I will be reunited with my boy one day. Until then, I will continue to do the things that help ME walk through this broken world. Spending time with my amazing daughter's, husband, and friends. Thank you God

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Just WOW!

It’s Sunday morning August 23, 2015. I have been awake since before 6:00 AM. I believe I awoke so early because I went to sleep before 9:00 PM. I was full of emotion yesterday. I finally had the honor of meeting Jenni. She received Matt’s lungs nearly 7 years ago.

Jenni is a beautiful lady who is full of life. She seemed to be so concerned about me and my well-being during the heart and lung patient transplant celebration in which she invited me to meet with her.

It was a very special day. I met several people who had also received lungs. I spoke with Jenni’s friend Lisa who received lungs over 9 years ago. She has been a part of her donor family’s lives for years. She explained to me that often times the recipients has survivor remorse.

 I told Lisa that I am grateful to have been given this amazing opportunity to meet with Jenni.  To sit and talk with her and know that she is alive and breathing because of Matt is a gift that I will cherish forever. To hear Jenni laugh is awesome.

Jenni shared with me that the doctors were going to take her off the respirator (which meant certain death), just 1 day before she was told that they had a donor who matched perfectly. That donor was my beautiful, loving and giving son, Matthew Terrahl Garcia.

My heart will never be the same since the day Matt was taken from us on September 2, 2008 Although, I am extremely thankful that he was willing and able to help so many others live. Matt was an amazing human being, who continues to live on even in his death. How could a mother not be grateful for that?

My life has been moving in many different directions. What I thought my life was going to be like, has once again, taken another turn. I am open to change and to growth. I’m grateful to know that my life is going to be whatever I make it. We are here for such a short time. I must take every opportunity to live it to the fullest, in love, peace and happiness.


Jenni, I thank you for allowing me to be a part of your life.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Beyond words

I posted on Facebook today about my upcoming, once in a lifetime, trip to Thailand. In 2 weeks I will be in Bangkok with my best friend, Laura and her beautiful family. I have the plane tickets, the hotels are booked and our days there are all planned. I still can't believe I am actually going to Thailand.

I spent a good part of this morning thinking about my life. I am blessed beyond words. The friendships that I have and the relationships that are being built each day, are extraordinary.

I will be celebrating 25 years of long term recovery on April 6th in Bangkok. Never ever did I dare to dream that I could come from where I was and be where I am today.

The murder of Matt devastated us. At the same time, our family is closer than ever. Myself, Raymond and our girls have each other like never before. A horrific tragedy can destroy a family. There were  times I wasn't sure we could make it. But, here we are! I am extremely grateful that I didn't give in.

Matt's death awakened a part of my soul that I had no idea existed. The most painful and difficult circumstances in my life has brought me to this awesome place of surrender. I am more open to listen, learn and share than ever before.

I'm a work in progress. Every moment of every day I can choose how I want to live. That to me, is astounding! I want to build and cultivate relationships. I understand that being available for people and having phenomenal people available for me, has helped to create this amazing life that I live.

I still struggle with life situations on the daily, work, relationships and money But, when I  take a couple seconds to scan this life, I see that I am blessed beyond words. Thank you God.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Inward and onward

It's been over a month since I have written anything. It has taken me some time to process the FINAL court hearing. I didn't get much sleep the night before our Jan. 16th court appearance. Tossing and turning until I finally gave in and got out of bed. I realized that once again, I had allowed my rambling mind to get the best of me.

Raymond and I didn't talk much during our early morning coffee. Looking back, I can still sense the several minutes of awkward silence that hung over us. It was obvious that even though we sat together we were miles apart. 

 Finally, I began to share with him some of the thoughts that were roaming my mind like a pack of  vicious dogs. I cried, because the thoughts that were inside me were frightening. I had a knowing, that if I left these erratic thoughts there without voicing them, they would fester and grow. 

My thoughts were like a play without an ending. I was watching myself standing up in the courtroom and screaming profanities and throwing anything and everything at the evil person who murdered my boy. I envisioned myself attacking him with all the rage and anger I had held inside me for over 6 years. I wanted to destroy him for all the devastation, pain and anger that HE caused and was continuing to cause our family and loved ones.

The reality is that I would never succeed in carrying out this vision. I truly don't think I really wanted to. I just wanted to have some semblance of justice for Matt. Instead of the circus that we had been subjected to for years.

I went to my room and sent my friend Marianne an email. I asked her for prayer regarding our court situation along with prayer for myself. I was imploding and was not able to stop this on my own. I needed help before I stepped foot into that courtroom.

Marianne called soon after I pressed the send button on my laptop. She asked me if my anger was helping me in any way. She wanted me to look inside myself for answers. What did I believe would happen if this person did get a retrial? Do I believe that I am somehow protecting Matt? Do I think that my anger can change anything?

I found myself trying to justify my actions and behavior, at first. Fairly quickly, I realized that this was exactly what I needed to hear. My rage and anger was only hurting me. Matt is fine. He sends us little signs of proof all the time. Marianne's prayer coupled with the thought provoking questions, felt good and I was now ready to go do this.

The court hearing lasted over 3 hours. Raymond and I had to testify two times each. The shooters girlfriend, who brought on all of this insanity, decided to invoke her 5 amendment right and did NOT testify. I was able to see just how ludicrous all of this was. I literally laughed out loud.

I felt at peace. I knew that whatever was to happen, we would be ok. I have a choice everyday, Do I want to be happy or do I want to be miserable? I can't change anything that has already happened. I can only change me and my actions and reactions. I'm not saying this is an easy thing to do. I am saying that this is a "practice" everyday.

 I will continue to use my voice and speak up for those who have no voice. In order to be FREE,  I must not turn any injustices inward.

I am so grateful for the love and support.