Three days ago, I walked in the graduation ceremony to receive my Master’s degree. As excited as I am to move on to a new chapter of my life, I cannot help but feel as though a piece of my heart is missing. The person I want to thank the most, who helped me understand myself, and who influenced me to continue changing my life for the better is no longer here for me to thank.
My younger brother was almost 25 when he passed away due to a terminal illness. I suppose we could say he beat the disease, since it was technically an accident that took him from us. Matty was a bright and happy guy, regardless of how sick he became. He always thought of others, and how they could better themselves.
In 2009, I had just received an acceptance letter to a university. In my mid-20s, I felt as though I wouldn’t belong. My brother told me to “Go to school.” Later the same day, Matty had a terrible accident, leaving him with 3rd degree burns on much of his body. We discussed my future prospects near my brother’s comatose body, not realizing he had awakened. Fighting a breathing machine to speak, Matty looked me in the eye and said, “Go to school.”
I was fortunate enough that my brother lived long enough attend my graduation for my Bachelor’s degree. I had never seen him so proud. A few days before the second year of my Master’s program, I sent a postcard home, telling him that I planned to go to law school after I finished. He was thrilled. Less than a week later, I got the call that no one ever wants. I lost Matty the day before the semester started.
My department looked shocked when I returned, just two days later. I couldn’t stay away. I heard those words in my head, echoing, “Go to school.” So I went. Three days ago, I graduated with my Master’s degree and a perfect GPA, all because of those words. At the end of this month, my family is moving so I can continue to follow the loving guidance of that phrase.
There is nothing I can say or do to make my little brother come back to me. That is the truth. What is also the truth, however, is that I can still thank him for what he has done for me. I can remember what he said to inspire me, and continue to follow his words of wisdom. I can and will finish my education and move on to that new chapter, where I help those who need it. Just like Matty would want me to.