While sitting in a holding cell, awaiting processing, Matt discovered that the acoustics in the room were good enough to buoy a Rodgers and Hammerstein repertoire, for what one would hope would've been a few hours. As apocryphal as some of the details may be, I still believe that the guards were happy Matthew was allowed to return home. As we all wish he could do now.
On Christmas Eve, I was sitting in Matt's hospital room with JJ Gordon, listening to the cast recording of the new Les Miserables film. "Stars", the first solo piece sung by Javert, began playing. Matthew, not one to allow such opaque audible tripe as the sound of Russel Crowe singing continue to climb the staircase, began singing OVER the Australian vomit. Seated. Strapped to a gurney. Disease constricting his genes. Immediately, I pictured a caged baby Matthew, sitting at the Cass County Courthouse or wherever the hell he was, demonstrating that it's not me who is locked up with you, but it is YOU who is locked up with me. And in the fashion of an actor trained in comedic timing, Matthew stopped on the perfect note and stated, "I have cancer, and I sing this part better than Russel Crowe."
If there was anything Matthew was acutely aware of, it was timing. His death, following a long and valiant struggle with the worst diseases known to man, still comes to me as an ugly shock. I've cried and yet I haven't. I've mourned… and yet I haven't. Matt knew those emotions would be a weight carried by those he loved most, and so he did the best thing he could do. He was Matt. He sat in a hospital bed with cancer and talked about the things he would do for the next few years, while most of us haven't planned past the upcoming weekend. He would look at you… and smile. He would drink you in like a first time alcoholic. He would welcome you, and feast to you, and have a story to tell about you before he even knew you.
I won't know what I really need to say about my friend until months after he is gone. It's not quite reality for me that all who have known him, from Fargo to Boston to New York to Alabama, are now living in a world where he no longer exists. Matt was caged inside his body ravaged by disease, but like a canary unaware of it's copper cage, he continued to sing.
He was a friend of mine. I loved him dearly. If you knew him, you loved him too. If you didn't know him… then you don't understand that you actually did.