Matthew's Letter

May 22, 2011
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Dear Matthew,

The truth is, I’m lost. The definition of lost I’m using here is not the usual one, being disoriented and not on the right path. I am most definitely on the right path, and I have huge goals and high expectations for myself. I’m lost in the sense that I don’t know who I am. I guess everyone feels this way sometimes, and most people never truly know who they are, but can only partially find their identity. When you’re a child, live with your parents and are taught what’s right from wrong, you aren’t at a point in which you question your identity, but you really don’t need to. You’re protected by your family and shielded from the confusing self-realization that awaits you. As you get older, you gain freedom, responsibility and individuality. Your trusted to make your own decisions, know what’s right from wrong, and fix the mistakes that you make with your own judgment. As you gain responsibility, you start to understand yourself and decide who you are, and what your experiences have shaped you to become.

Matthew, I haven’t been a child since I was 11, about a year after you left us. I’ve had to deal with fighting, lies, loss, sickness and confusion, to such an extremity that they’ve changed my life. I’ve been a kitten trapped in the middle of a group of belligerent jaguars, all trying to pull me in their own direction. When someone’s put in that situation and has to face some of the hardships I have had to, the outcome could be one of two. They can either rise and gain something from it, or let it take their life away. Knowing your big sister, you can imagine which was the outcome after your passing. What does not kill me will only make me stronger, right? Well, I’ve been thinking a lot about two specific moments that I believe really explain this idea. The first was when I initially realized something had happened to you, and I reminisced on the way I felt at that exact moment. “Confusion and Pain reside in my mind, but instead of uncertainty as to what, I can’t understand why. The image of my parents crying into each other’s arms, trying to fix broken hearts that are permanently damaged. Fright now exists within all our hearts. We fear the reality that we now have to face, hand in hand, hearts and souls as one, confronting an event that will affect us for eternity.” The second moment that I reflected upon, was the next day, when I was told for the first time that I would never again hold your soft, beautiful hand as we crossed the street. The feeling was similar, but denial acted as a weak coat of paint over the confusion I felt. “I realize that I don’t want my brother to know the truth of what happened; neither do I want myself to understand this reality, when the truth hurts this badly.” I was upset more for Joey at this moment. Upset that he was confused.

These overwhelming emotions have stayed with me for the past six years and have shaped who I’ve become in so many ways. I cant even begin to explain the degree of confusion that still exists in not only mine, but everyone’s heart’s. After going back and thinking about these two moments, which have been hard for me to do, I’ve realized that I am such a strong and mature individual in result of them. I walk through school and hear these teenage girls complain and complain about the most minute problems. They feel like their world is crashing down because their boyfriend broke up with them, or because their friend is mad at them. I find comic relief out of this, not in a grotesque way, but in a way that explains my level of maturity. Small, everyday difficulties are simple for me, because of the experiences I have gone through.

I just went to New York City two days ago, and as much knowledge and insight as I got from the writing workshops, the quiet bus ride home deemed much more memorable. I was quiet as I stared long and hard out the clear glass, hoping to find the answer I’ve been searching for in the faces of complete strangers. I thought of my past, the suffering and loss that are my life, and the confusion and anger that impede my thoughts daily. The expressions on the solemn faces of Harlem’s lowest that I was so dependent on for clarification or hope, suddenly led me to an epiphany much different from what I was looking for. From looking in the faces of these individual people, I realized that as much as I needed answers to my questions and needed to find my identity, so did these people. Each of them had a different story, not painted plainly across their faces, but hiding deep within their melancholy expressions and blank stares. I realized that we make decisions based on how they will affect us in the moment, not necessarily based on the future outcome. These decisions and their results make up our individual identities. The experiences I’ve faced haven’t alone shaped myself, but along with my reactions and the way I choose to handle each difficult situation.

Matthew, I’ve been told so many times that I shouldn’t be thinking the way I do at my age. I shouldn’t be involved in ‘adult’ business. I shouldn’t be worried about where I’m going to live, or which family members are lying to me. I shouldn’t be mixed up and confused because of my past. The truth is, I am. This is part of who I am. Who decides which business is too ‘adult’ for me, when my parents are contradicting themselves? I consider myself to be extremely mature and ‘adult-like’ when it comes to identifying myself, based on the way I interpret events and knowledge given to me by our family. This could be a positive or negative characteristic, negative because I should ‘enjoy my childhood’, but this is my identity and this is how my experiences have shaped who I have become. I want you to understand that as much as I feel I’ve learned about my identity lately, I’m still lost and confused. I need your help and guidance to continue on this tedious journey to find my true self.

With all my love,


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