Since Matt's death his cousins decided to start a tradition of getting together on a regular basis. 'Cousins night' would be about catching up, having fun, and letting loose a little. This group consists of Matt's siblings, his cousins, their spouses, and kids. It has been such an unbelievable blessing for me. It seems to be one of the few places left I can let my guard down and grieve. A place where Matt is still so very much alive and among us it is difficult to imagine he isn't about to walk right around the corner during one of these parties. This last one was just this weekend, and we decided to propose a toast to Matt. We went around the room and each gave a favorite memory of Matt, and I inventively listened and jotted notes as to not forget anything later on.
There were many great things that were said by Matt's family; some from recent years and some from long ago. One thing that stood out to me more than anything though, was the repeated feelings on Matt's excitement for life. It seemed throughout his life Matt found many things to pour himself into. He always took on ideas, projects, or goals with such enthusiasm. He was the kind of guy that could have excited you about dirt if it just so happened he had fell in love with dirt earlier in the month. Matt sold a type of juice the last two years of his life; it was part of a multi-level marketing company, and it was just as any other multi-level company is. Oh, but how Matt loved this stuff. He was ordering it by the cases, handing it out to everyone who stopped over. He could talk about nothing but this juice for an hour straight without a breath. It was the same way with his Christmas lights, his computers, his business ventures, his newest hobby of his toy trains ... it went on and on with him. If there was something he believed in, he would share his passion with such intensity a person couldn't help but want to run out to Hobby Lobby and pick up a train or two for themselves.
One of the other things that really touched me was when a cousin was reminded of a time shortly after Evelyn was born that we had all gathered as a family at some event. Matt had told her that he was so excited to have his own family now. He was looking forward to the times we would be able to hang out, and being able to watch our families grow together. Matt had a rough time in his late teens and 20s, there were a lot of times his family members would go a long time without seeing him. It was after Evelyn's birth that he started to feel the importance of family again. To appreciate just how important the family unit was, and felt remorse for missing those years he was away.
There was a point in the night I was in the kitchen and the rest of the crew was dancing in my living room ... possibly to Don't Stop Believing. I was looking over their faces, feeling so blessed that they continue to let me in as part of their family. I was overwhelmed that I was able to marry into such a loving, fun, and beautiful family. I was sad Matt wasn't with us, but so overjoyed that we were still dancing despite our loss of him, because he would have wanted nothing more.