All My Love for Matthew

Every time I sit down to write this post, I get overwhelmed and end up deleting everything I wrote. I’m giving up on this post being organized or even coherent. I am going to let my heart do the talking, because all I really hope to get out of this is something that I’ll be able to come back to when I need to.

All My Love for Matthew

12 days ago, my heart broke into a million and one pieces. Again. Just as it had at the beginning of this school year.

I love my students. All of them. They become a part of me, almost as if they are my own children. The bonds we form, the relationships we build, the memories we create, are so incredibly special, and last far longer than the time each student spends in my class.

Earlier this school year, I found out that one of my former students, Matthew, was diagnosed with Midline Diffuse Glioma, a very aggressive form of pediatric brain cancer. As I began to process the news, I felt so many emotions… from guilt, to sadness, to anger and everything in between. Matthew is one of the kindest most caring students I have ever taught. He is quite literally brilliant, mature beyond his years, and always the most incredible friend to everyone who crosses his path. I had the privileged of teaching Matthew when he was in grade 1, and he is now in grade 5. Because I changed schools a couple of years ago, the last time I had seen Matthew, he was just finishing grade 2.

A couple of years passed while he continued on at his school, and I, at mine.

Then, 12 days ago, I got an e-mail from my old principal updating me on how Matthew was doing. He wasn’t strong enough to attend school anymore, so they were throwing him a school wide party to shower him with love, and remind him just how many lives he’s positively impacted. Because I was blessed to have been one of Matthew’s teachers, I was invited to make him a short video clip, which would be put together with many other clips from the students and staff of the school, to make a beautiful video to be shown during the celebration, and later gifted to the family.

Nothing about this was easy. Nothing about this is fair.

It took me the next three days to make a 60 second video. It took hours of crying to let it out… Hours of scrolling through old pictures and videos of him on our old Seesaw account… Hours of trying to figure out just what to say… Hours of talking with friends and family just to build myself up enough to do this for him. Because in the end, he is worth it. In the end, my love for him is much bigger than any grief, sadness, and heartbreak I feel. Matthew deserves to know just how much he’s touched my heart.

And so, I made the video.

And then, 6 days ago, I got to be there in the school gym to celebrate Matthew. I was in awe of how perfectly everything came together in such a short period of time. The love that was felt that day was bigger than anything I’ve ever witnessed. The way this community came together in such a positive fashion, all for Matthew, moved me to tears. As the dance party began, I walked through the crowd and many students stopped me and hugged me and asked me if I remembered them. Oh my dear students – I will always remember you. You’ve taken a piece of my heart with you, and no matter how much time passes, or if I move to yet another school, I will remember you, just as I will always remember Matthew.

I finally made my way to Matthew, and got down on my knees to say hello. We shared a special moment where I got to read him the card I had written him, and give him the simple gift I had made him — one that I thought was perfect for this Lego-loving young man. The embrace I got from his parents shortly after, said everything. I didn’t have the right words, and nothing I could do would make this nightmare of a situation go away, but despite that, I knew that being there was enough.IMG_1268

And as hard as it was to be there, the peace and joy that it brought me far surpassed any feelings of sadness and heartache. Seeing Matthew and having time with him was exactly what my soul needed, and hopefully, it did him some good, too.

Matthew, je t’aime.

Here are other links to stories, videos, and tweets that I want to keep forever.

École Marie-Anne-Gaboury Story: Matthew and His Community

Matthew’s GoFundMe page



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