On this night 4 years ago, we were at John Muir Hospital waiting to see Matt in the emergency room surrounded by so many people waiting to find out how you were.
There are a few moments from that night and the next day are forever etched in my memory.
It was 8:30ish when my friend Terri called me to see if I had heard from Matt. She said that she had found out that he may have just been shot. I immediately called Matt's phone, No answer. I then called the police to see what was happening. The police dispatcher said that an officer would be coming to our home. All of our phones began to ring continuously. The word had spread. Matt was shot!
While we were outside waiting for the police to pick us up. Uncle Mark and Aunt Maria came to pick up TeaRae and head off to John Muir. Briana decided to wait for the police with me and Raymond. "OH MY GOD,Where are the POLICE"? We kept asking and calling. Why were they taking so long?
When the Officer finally arrived, the three of us got in the police car and we took off for the hospital. I never wondered why they had my son at John Muir? My phone continued to ring and I continued to feed everyone who called, the little bit of information that I had. I finally asked the Officer, Do you know what happened to my son? He said, "All that I know is that he was shot in the head". My heart dropped and I don't remember much of the ride after that.
At the hospital we were ushered to the emergency waiting area. Many of our city leaders were there. Many of Matt's friends and our family were arriving by the carloads. We didn't get to see Matt or hear anything about his condition for quite some time. When the Doctor did come out he told us that Matt's wound was devastating. What does that mean? I didn't know what that meant????
When we were taken to see Matt, he was hooked up to many machines. It was obvious to me now, what the Doctor meant when he said devastating wound. How could this be happening? WHO did this to my BOY? WHY, WHY, WHY????? He was a good and kind boy with a beautiful caring heart.
We stayed the night in the ICU waiting room. Several of my friends stayed with us that night. I continued to go to Matt's bedside, where he had round the clock police protection.
The next day, the ICU Doctor informed us that Matt's Brain Stem was severed. Matt would not be recovering and that his brain was dead. How does a mother deal with that? How does a mother hold it together enough to be there for Matt's sisters? How does a mother NOT LOSE HER MIND from Anger, Rage and Grief. GOD!
God continues to carry us all through this never ending nightmare. I ask God to Clear our minds and heal our Hearts, daily.
Matt's life brought joy to many people. That is what we try to focus on. The depth of pain and the space that is forever missing in my heart will always be there. Matt wanted us to be filled with hope and to be responsible for our actions. So, that is what we have been striving to do.
Last week I talked with the person who was the intended target of the bullet that killed my son. Yes, the drug dealer who ripped of the shooter and his friend for $50 dollars. He shared with Raymond and I, that he never meant for someone to be killed. He shared how he wanted to die, but the drugs he continued to do, wouldn't kill him. He had nine days clean now and he knew he had to talk with us. He shared how he was spiraling out of control. He couldn't go down Travis Blvd. because he couldn't look at the Matt Garcia Youth Center without being reminded of how it should have been Him that was killed, Not Matt!
I just allowed him to go on and tell his story of what had happened on Sept. 1, 2008. He said that he didn't understand why God let him live and took Matt, who was living a positive life and had a bright future. Honestly, I can't understand it either.
Listening to him tell the story I asked him some questions about the trial and some of the things that he testified to when he was on the stand. I wanted to know if he still stood by everything that he said. He said, yes,that he did.
It was a very emotional meeting for the 3 of us. I had a sense of peace come over me. I told him that my hope for him would be that he continue to get his life in order and to be the father that he should be to his 4 kids. That he teach them to be good and loving people so that they don't grow up to do drugs and hurt or kill people.
He asked for our forgiveness and we forgave him. I felt lighter when I left that meeting. Not for him so much as for myself. My life has been an incredible series of opportunities and lessons. I can use these life events as opportunities to grow and change or I can live in hatred, fear, anger and confusion. I choose peace!
That is what Matt would want for us all.