Oh, a hard post to write. When you move away from the family and friends that are so important to you, there’s always a thought in your head that you won’t be there when you are needed. Of course, it’s hard to live your life in fear of the “what ifs”, but there are sometimes you just want to be home.
This is one of them.
Matt’s oldest daughter, Emily, has led a painful life. Although extremely intelligent, hard working, sensitive and caring, she also battled depression and her own self esteem. These battles led her into a life that was both dangerous and heart breaking. Drugs, alcohol, reckless behavior, volatile relationships – these were a way of life for her for most of the last few years. Everything seemed to come to a head last July. She was in an accident that caused a serious brain injury. She underwent brain surgery and months of rehabilitation and then was released about four months ago to her own home.
|Emily and her Grandpa|
She felt this was a fresh start. She realized how lucky she was to be alive and she was determined to improve her life. She joined AA, sought the counseling that she had needed for so long, and worked so hard to mend relationships with her family and friends. She seemed to be doing all this. But sometimes your past life just seems to catch up with you.
A few weeks ago Emily slipped into a severe depression. Then she suffered a seizure one week ago. I feared she had slipped back into old habits, but Matt felt very sure that this was not a result of abuse, but rather an aftermath of her old injuries. Matt talked with Emily almost every day since her July injury. Before that injury, there were many times he’d call and she wouldn’t answer. But now, she’d answer his calls and they would have long conversations almost every day. There were a few days that she would be in a funk and not answer. But he could always follow her activity on Facebook, and know she was ok.
They talked on Thursday and she was still very depressed. It was a hard conversation for him. She didn’t answer his calls on Friday and there was no Facebook activity. Saturday she still didn’t answer his calls and hadn’t checked in with Facebook. Saturday morning he knew that something was wrong. He already felt a deep sense of loss. He called his brother Saturday afternoon and asked him to check on Emily. When she didn’t answer the door, they called the police to do a welfare check – and found what Matt had feared. Emily had died; she was all alone except for her two dogs that she loved so much.
My thoughts about the cause of part of the pain Emily dealt with was that she cared too much. She wanted everything well and right for all she loved, and of course she couldn’t make that happen. As a result she seemed to withdraw into her own private darkness.
Matt has asked repeatedly since finding out that Emily is gone, “What do I do now. What do you do when it’s your child?”. I don’t know what to say. I do know that despite the miles that have separated him from Emily for the past two and a half years, in some ways he has been closer to Emily than he had been for most of her adult life. Their long heart to heart talks were a lifeline for them both. When I would over hear parts of those conversations, I always was amazed at the patience he showed during her bad days. These were not easy conversations, but he knew how important it was to show her how much he loved and cared for her.
And despite the dangerous life Emily had lived, it seems that her death was of natural causes. There were no signs of drugs or alcohol in the house; it is likely she suffered another seizure.
And I know this sounds corny, but in August 2013 a friend and former co-worker of mine was killed in a car accident. The morning she died, I went to work at my dog Ranch and I saw this incredible butterfly fluttering around. I had never seen one like it before or since. It was vibrant yellow with dramatic black markings. It was just like my friend, loud and striking. Yesterday while we were tensely waiting for the police to get into Emily’s house, I was looking out at our garden and I saw a butterfly like I had never seen before. This one was a soft green color, no markings, just simple yet beautiful. Just like Emily. That’s when I knew in my heart that she was gone.
So what every parent fears most has hit our little casa here in Mexico. Matt will go back to Kansas City soon to offer and receive support from his family and friends. And then he’ll return to Mexico, and we’ll continue our life. But I know that Emily will always be in his heart.
Two weeks ago, Matt shared this video on Facebook:
After viewing this, Emily posted this to Matt: I'm crying my eyes out. I don't know if it was taken the same way by both of us, but the next time you come to Kansas City you'll see that hearing the same advice and being blessed with such an amazing family will have finally changed me in a way that won't hurt you any more. I love you Dad.
See, I told you what a big heart this young woman had! Well Emily did show her dad how much she had changed; but unfortunately they weren’t able to share that change together.
Love you Emily, you did make an impact on many lives. I hope your sweet soul is finally happy and at peace.