24 July 2007

Four years ago today.

Last year I made a post similar to this one, on this same day. And the year before that. For those of you who knew him, please remember Matthew today. For all, please read on, even if you already read it last year.

Four years ago today, this afternoon, my best friend was murdered in cold blood. In Austin Texas, in his yard, by his neighbor, shot once in the heart. He died on the spot. What was the motive? A fence-line between their houses. The bastard neighbor was never brought to justice. It was pre-meditated. He admitted to it. His wife and son submitted statements that he did it. He was out on reduced bail. Seventeen months after the murder, he killed himself. With a gun. At home. Not 50 feet from where he murdered an amazing human being. In cold blood. I wish him to rot in Hell and suffer forever.

Just over a year later there was a wedding of a close college friend, one that Matt would have attended. It was a wonderful, if bittersweet affair, for Matthew was notably absent. But we toasted him and remembered. Now, she has recently lost her father, and my thoughts go out to her.

My great-grandmother used to say during WWII in Germany that grief is not measured by who wails the loudest at the funeral, but rather by sudden gut wrenching pangs of loss. By periodic moments of sadness. By introspection at unexpected times. All long after the passing. I have to say that I miss Matthew deeply. I will never have a friend like him again. His absence is not what strikes me the most, but instead the sheer loss. The lack of, well, him. The finality.

This is the eulogy I read at Matthew's funeral. For those who remember him, here is a needless reminder. For those that do not, here is something about him. Now it seems so brief, so shallow. It was written just two hours before the service, under emotional duress, aengst, and just plain psychological disaster on my part. I was a pall bearer. It was the worst experience of my entire life.
August 2003

Schenectady, New York, on a sunny day, with Matt's family and several close college friends.

My Best Friend. I am not really sure what I will do without him. Many have commented in the past and in the present about how different we are, and how did we get to be such good friends?
I've known Matt for just under 15 years, or little less than half my life. We met at Dickinson as two head-strong 18 yr-olds.

Matt Loved Dickinson, and made his policy to make the most of it - both from what he gave to it and what he got out of it. He truly loved that place and all it stands for: Freedom through Piety and Thought.

We have spent almost every New Years Eve together since we finished school, surrounded by our Dickinson friends and many others along the way. Since we both moved to Texas by chance six years ago, we have done the same for Thanksgiving.

We were each other's family while so far away from own. We've held each other up, pushed each other higher, and been the voices of sanity and reason when our inner voices needed a little help.
Matt's enthusiasm and diversity is reflected in the things we enjoyed doing together: Boating, water skiing, car racing, working on small cantankerous British sports cars, sharing a bottle of wine, talking, and just spending time together being silly.

Matt's passing is a major milestone in all our lives, although an unwanted one. I urge you to take some of Matt's mantras to heart and make them part of your lives:
1. If something bothers you, and you have the ability to do something about it, stop complaining.
2. Do something about it.
3. Simplify, Simplify, Simplify.
4. Enjoy and appreciate, for you never know what day will be your last.

To donate to the Matthew Baker Memorial Fund, click here. Make sure you earmark your donation as "Scholarship" and enter "Matthew Baker Fund". Your company may match your gift, or even go 2:1, so be sure to check here and look for your company in order to maximize your contribution. When the scholarship hits the point where it is endowed, the funds will be allocated annually only to those students in most dire financial need, and who make a significant contribution to the cultural life of the college. You can also email me for more info, extramundane@gmail.com .

This evening has been pretty rough, and I only just now am getting up the gumption to make this post.