Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Just Judgments

I'm sorry to do two sad posts in a row, but the situation here is desperate, and I am begging for your prayers. My friend Matthew is at the point of death and needs your intercession.

Let me explain to you who Matthew is. When I moved to DC in June, I didn't know anyone, and I was moving in with two girls who were total strangers. This could have gone badly, but I was lucky. They turned out to be two of the nicest, loveliest people I've ever met.

Colleen in particular became my close friend. We were only a few years apart in age and shared a love for English literature. She is such a kind, good-hearted person with heaps of common sense. Before long, I was asking her for advice about all kinds of things. I jokingly called her "the big sister I'd never had."

It wasn't long after I moved in that I met Colleen's boyfriend, Matt. He's one of the funniest people I've ever met. He would reduce us to tears of laughter with his goofy stories and witty comments. Colleen adored him. You could see it in her face every time she looked at him.

As I began planning my move to Virginia, we discovered that my new apartment would be right down the street from Matthew's. We were delighted. I would have a friend nearby, and Colleen would have a place to stay when she came to visit him. We began planning fun shenanigans for us to do with Matt's two roommates after the move.

In the first few months after my move, everything began going as planned. Matt and Colleen came to my housewarming party and my birthday party. She slept over a few times and I began hitching rides to church on Sunday mornings with Matthew. I already loved Colleen, and over time, Matthew too became a dear and close friend. Again and again, he was there for me when I needed him.

When the hurricane came to DC, it was Matthew who drove my mom and I to buy water and nonperishable food and carried it all into my apartment too. On the very crowded elevator ride to my floor, he taught us how to make the elevator go directly to our stop. "I learned this trick from an old fireman," he said. "Now that I've taught you, use this power only for good."

The night of my birthday party, I discovered to my devastation that I had lost my credit card. I needed to be on a plane to Chicago at 7 am the next morning, and I didn't even have money to pay for a taxi. Distressed, I mentioned my predicament to Colleen and Matt.

"What time is your flight?" asked Matthew. And just like that, after spending a night celebrating my birthday with me, Matthew also offered to wake up before dawn to give me a ride to the airport.

But the next morning, I slept through my alarm clock. I would have slept right through my flight too if Matt hadn't shown up and started pounding on the door of my apartment. He woke me up and got me to the airport just in the nick of time. He saved the day, twice.

Then there was the time I signed up to pray for an hour outside a Planned P-hood, only to discover that no one else had signed up for my time slot. I couldn't face the thought of doing it alone. So at 10 pm that night, I frantically sent out text messages to at least ten different guy friends. "I just found out I'm the only person scheduled for my shift tomorrow! I don't know if I can do this alone :("

Some of them didn't respond. Some sent excuses. Only Matt wrote back, "What time and where?"

He got up early to pick me up and drive me there. Then we prayed the Rosary together for an hour, outside in the cold. He didn't sign up for that, but he came anyway, because he knew I needed him.

That was so Matthew. He's one of the best people I've ever known.

We had a little Sunday morning ritual when Colleen and his roommates were around. We would go to the 10:30 Mass at our favorite church, St. John's, and then we would stop at Starbucks on the way home. When the others couldn't make it, he would still kindly offer me a ride (minus the Starbucks), since the church was several miles away and I didn't have any other way to get there.

One Saturday night in mid-October, I was sleeping over at Serena's house so I texted him that I wouldn't be needing a ride to Mass the next day.

But on Sunday morning, he texted me. "I'm in the hospital. Pray for me."

That was October 16.

Forty-seven days ago.

He has been in the hospital ever since. What started out as complications from pneumonia morphed into a life-and-death situation as he has had every medical complication known to man. He has been in and out of a coma almost continually. His lungs, his liver, everything is under assault. The interior of his body is slowly ceasing to function. There is a Facebook group to pray for him and it has over 1,600 members.

Last night we learned that the doctors have given up hope. There is nothing more they can do.

I came to work this morning with a heavy heart. Matthew has suffered so much. Colleen has suffered so much. And now, this horrible setback.

I didn't feel very friendly toward God this morning but I forced myself to go to Mass. For Matthew, I thought. The whole walk there, I fought back tears. Kneeling in the pew, I fought back tears. I sort of went through the motions, not really paying attention, wrapped up in my own thoughts and sorrow.

But the psalm response caught my attention.

"The judgments of the Lord are true, and all of them are just."


I sat there, stunned. I couldn't even repeat the response after the lector. All of the judgments of the Lord are just? I thought. Yeah right.

But the congregation repeated it again, and again. I forced myself to say it too. And to think it. The Lord's judgments are just. All of them. Even that my young, strong, funny, kind friend has been struck down with debilitating illness and is at the point of death.

I don't see how this is a just judgment. I don't see it at all.

But I know that it must be.

And I believe that someday it will make sense.

God has a plan here. I have to trust.

It's so hard to do!

But if Colleen can do it, so can I.

And as long as he is alive, there is still hope.

No matter what happens, he will always be one of my dearest friends.

So that's why I ask, please, if you are reading this, please say a prayer for my friend Matthew.


  1. Know that Matthew--as well as you and Colleen-- will be in my prayers. I will also put his name on the prayer list here at Assisi House where I am still recuperating and will have one of the sisters put it on the prayer list at our motherhouse. Many blessings as you live through this bit of the unknown.

  2. Allie, Sister Ann Marie, thank you so much for your prayers. They are very much appreciated.

  3. You and Matt and Colleen are being prayed for from th back of a plane just getting ready to take off from Houston en route to Ave Maria Fl.

  4. Thank you, kind anonymous commenter!