Sunday, November 22, 2009

"I once was lost..."

Matthew Ryan Bedford
November 6, 1975 - November 18, 2009

"Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come,
'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home."

We each may have known that ominous ringing of a telephone--too early in the still darkness of a morning --the modern version of the knelling of a village's chapel bell--that stirs the heart with dread. Thursday morning, my niece so devastated she could barely talk, delivered the news of the death of her youngest brother, Matthew. Could it be any worse? Circumstances added extra agony to this story. After rehab and many weeks of being drug free, with the help and constant support of his devoted mother (my sister), his darling wife, and the joyous presence of their two year-old daughter, Matt faltered; it was a fatal lapse. After a frantic afternoon stretching into late night and a missing person's report, Matt was found slumped over in his car, dead from a drug overdose.

At his funeral yesterday, Father Wells led a Holy Conversation rather than delivering a sermon as part of the Burial of the Dead Rite I from the Book of Common Prayer. He stated that this sort of tragedy calls on each of us not to judge Matthew, but rather to understand that addiction is a terminal illness. It affects everyone, not just the user. It can be rigorously managed, but it is never cured. He reminded us too, that we must focus on the bright day represented by the banner (in the photo) which is draped over his coffin and know that he is now at peace, never to suffer the scourge of addiction again. He then invited anyone present to share a story or just thoughts on the life of Matthew. Many people spoke and told precious stories and made heartfelt comments. His wife stood, looked at the entire gathering and told us how he was a good, kind, and generous man who loved everyone present just as she knew we loved him. It was one the bravest acts I have witnessed in a long time.

After the service ended, Matthew's nephew, Zachary age 18, sang his very soulful and tender rendition of "Forever Young" by Bob Dylan. With that, we each made our first steps toward healing our many broken hearts.

'I borrow from Emily Dickinson when I say, it is the 'Hour of lead.'
However, it is this poem that best expresses the past few days spent with my family.

The bustle in the house

The morning after death

Is the solemnest of industries

Enacted upon earth, -

The sweeping up the heart,

And putting love away

We shall not use again

Until eternity.


Maggie May said...

Oh heart stopped and then stilled reading this. I am so, so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful young man. I am up close and presently familiar with drug abuse and addiction, and I know what it does to a person. I might lose someone I know this way, someone important to my children, and it is a horrible disease. If you ever want to talk more personally with someone who really understands please email me

In love,


willow said...

What sad, sad news, to hear of the loss of this handsome young man. My heart goes out to you and yours today, FireLight. Peace and prayers. ~x

Gaston Studio said...

I'm so sorry for you and your family, truly sorry.

Janelle Goodwin said...

My sympathy goes out to you and yours, Firelight.

FireLight said...

Maggie Mae, at some point, you may hear from me. I have found myself wondering how many more families woke up to the same stunning news on that same day. I feel we may be astounded by the number.

FireLight said...

Willow, you know you are the reason I began a blog. I believe that writing things down is great therapy, made even more helpful by response. This is heavy stuff and not a place anyone wants to be. I debated about putting this here....but this event is now such a part of me...there was no real reason not to tell Matt's story. I wonder if you all have feelings or thoughts on this?

FireLight said...

Gaston Studios & Janelle, thank you for your support and caring!

Thistle Cove Farm said...

Hello Firelight,

please accept my condolences; it becomes easier but it's never easy. You/yours are mentioned at Thistle Cove Farm; God bless you and yours.

DancyNancy said...

Thank you so much for this post, for my brother your nephew... and thank you for everything you did. It does help to talk about it, to write about it and cry about it....our hearts are broken ...and it is a comfort to be able to read this beautiful rememberance of Matthew and how we all feel. I Love you!!

FireLight said...

Thistle Cove Farm, I have often read your 'keeping the sabbath' posts and always find great insight, warmth, and faith ever present there. Thank you for maintaining such a wonderful blog, and thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

FireLight said...

Nancy, I love you so very much. You are such a bright and shining soul in our family. When you can, please come again and be sure to put in a photo so I can see your beautiful smile here!
See you Thursday!

Jen Chandler said...

I am so sorry to hear of this loss. It is never easy to bear the death of anyone, especially one so young. November is a bittersweet month for me as I lost both my father and my writing mentor, a year apart. I am praying for you and your family. The service sounds like it was a wonderful tribute to your nephew. How very wise of the minister :)


Derrick said...

Such a tragically sad happening for all of you, FireLight. You are in my thoughts. The Emily Dickinson words are beautiful.

Rowan said...

I'm so sorry to read of this tragedy in your family - my sympathy goes out to all of you at this sad time.

My Farmhouse Kitchen said... first time visiting you through Thistle Cove heart goes out to you and your family...I am so sorry for your loss...

May you find peace in your hearts at this Thanksgiving...


Michael said...

By thoughts are with you and yours Marnie.

Country Girl said...

The putting away of love you shall not use again? My God almighty, how does one do that? I was so saddened to hear of this.
You are in my thoughts.

Country Girl said...

I also wanted to say that his wife's act of bravery broke my heart. And this sort of service is so cathartic. I went to a similar one (a suicide) several years ago and felt elated afterwards for having celebrated that life the way we did.

...mmm... said...

Oh, this is so so sad. Such a handsome young man whose life has been cut short by his addictions. I was recently at a funeral fro someone with similar problems, about this age too. Very sad. I am so very sorry and for his family too.

I like what the priest said. That is so true too.

Betsy said...

Firelight ~ just wanted to add my condolences here..I'm so very sorry.

Maggie's garden said...

I am so sorry for your loss. This is so sad. So sad for the little daughter. My thoughts and prayers go out to you.
love, k

m. heart said...

I just stopped over here for the first time and want to extend my deepest sympathies to you and your family.

I lost my mom to cancer on the 19th, and that Emily Dickenson poem certainly strikes a chord.

One day (sometimes one hour) at a time seems to be the only way forward after such a loss.

vignette design said...

Reading this was like my worst nightmare. I am very familiar with addiction and what it does to a family, as someone very close has been struggling for 2 years. My heart goes out to Matthew's family and friends. He was a good man and not to judge him, but know what a powerful disease this is.

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Recreational scholar, former high school and junior college English teacher. Animal lover (especially horses, dogs, and people), live in the South, sometimes poet and essayist... "Ireland, Scotland, Britain, and Wales...I can hear those ancient voices calling..." Van Morrison from Celtic Heartbeat