I've been thinking a lot about my buddy Matt this week, like I usually do every December. He passed away a few years ago, and his birthday is was yesterday, December 12th. He would have been 32.
I got the news of his passing when I was eight thousand miles away, and remember saying out loud to myself "What happened? This has to be a mistake." It wasn't.
Let me give you a little background about Matt. I first met him when he was five or six years old (he's the one in the yellow shirt in the picture above). I was hosting the annual Easter Seals Telethon in San Diego, and one of the people I was supposed to interview was Matt.
Matt was in his wheelchair, and just the friendliest little guy I'd ever met. I went over to his mom and dad, who filled me in on Matt's history. I don't need to go into detail about it here, but the little guy had been through a lot, and would go through a lot more in the coming years. I kept in touch with him and his folks over the years. I'd see them at events, gave Matt and his cub troop a tour of the radio station and we'd talk on the phone now and again.
Matt never complained about his condition. I'm not going to call it a disability, because I don't know if Matt saw it as one. He went to school, had friends, played wheelchair rugby, and never seemed to let bitterness creep into his personality. I'm lucky to have known someone like him. And even though he's not around to talk or text any more, he's still in my thoughts, and he'll always be my friend. I hope you had a happy birthday buddy. You may not be here on earth with us anymore, but you had a lasting impact, and will always be with me in spirit.