I met Matt at a Metallica concert in Waikiki April 1999. I was a LCpl in the Marine Corps and stationed at Kaneohe Bay,HI. I was the only girl in my barracks - so I had A LOT of ‘older brothers’ looking out for me all the time. I was also one of the few with a car, so I was asked last minute to drive in exchange for a ticket. Sure- why not? I did not know that my life would change forever as I knew it that night. Later I found out that Matt had received his ticket last minute as well. It’s funny how fate interferes and lines things up so awkwardly and yet they work out beautifully.
So as I am walking out of the restroom at the concert this guy starts walking with me perfectly in sync right next to me - like shoulder to shoulder close. Me being a new Marine and trained as an MP (read that as: cocky as hell) I’m trying to figure out if I have to take this guy down or what- and then I realize he is staring at me and not watching where he is going…. and all of a sudden he just asks me” are you always so serious?” not hi, nor hello… but just a straight up question. I turned at him and he was smiling so wide I had to laugh. We talked the whole concert and exchanged numbers on our ticket stubs. When I got home from the concert I already had a message on machine. <3 I carried it with me in my pocket of my uniform to remind me ‘not to be so serious’ all the time. He carried his in his flight suit. Our next days off we spent at the beach- he waited all day and asked me “would it be alright if I kissed you?’ I think that’s when I knew he was the one for me- the one I wanted for all eternity. We spent nearly all our down time together. In the next couple of months his base (Barbers Point, HI) closed and the Navy got moved to my base Kaneohe Bay. YES! Now I can see him on lunch too. I was addicted to his presence, his laugh, his smile, his smell everything about him told you he loved life. He would do anything for anyone of his friends. Truly the type of guy that would give you the shirt off his back- I’ve seen him do it and not bat an eyelash or worry about ever getting it back. He made me want to be a better person. The room got brighter when he was in it. We would go to the beach, rollerblade through Waikiki, go to see shows (stomp, Rent, concerts), just sit and hear him play guitar (he taught himself using Dave Matthews), go to dinner at the little out of the way places…
We were engaged by my birthday in November and he left on deployment to Japan in December. Through letters, emails, and phone calls we stayed in touch- like all of us do clinging to every written word, every syllable spoken. When he came back in June we picked up right where we left off…. and come October 2000 we found out I was 10 weeks pregnant. So instead of a stateside wedding with all our friends and family- we had a very small ceremony in a garden on the beach with our immediate family who flew in and our friends that were on island. My brother gave me away as my Dad was not in attendance. My Dad never got to meet the man that changed me forever. We had planned on having another “reception’ the following summer in Chicago for all our family and friends who couldn’t be there of the first one. But that was Matt- always had a plan.
So we were married November 24, 2000. The day after Thanksgiving. So I met his parents 3 days before we got married and I cooked Thanksgiving at our house for 35 guests… did I mention I was pregnant? Talk about crazy!???!
SO we make it through our wedding weekend blissfully happy, of course. There are so many memories flooding me right now I could go on for days…..
So fast forward through the Christmas and Matt making me laugh so hard I peed through so many clothes. May 11 2001 our beautiful bouncing baby girl was born at 2 in the morning. Still the jokester- I have a picture of me having contractions and Matt giving me bunny ears. Thanks Babe.
So through all this Matt had started to take private pilot lessons- always his dream to fly. Guess he really was an Angel among us- he always felt calm and at peace in the air. In the Navy he was part of the crew on the P-3 Orion planes. His plan was to go back to school at Embry-Riddle and become a pilot. So in his spare time he took private lessons.
June 14, 2001, we spent the afternoon taking Ashley (our daughter) to the Dr- for what we later found was heat rash. Ok not big deal but it was one of those stupid little fights you have as new parents- I saw red dots all over I thought chicken pox and freaked- turns out I just needed to turn on the AC. Ok Matt - yes you were right. lol.
So we go home from the doctor, he calls and sees if he can get any flight time with his instructor. So much for a romantic dinner. ;-( He kisses me good-bye, reminds me to get gas in the jeep, and goes for his lesson. He calls later to say he’s going to be late because they can do his night qualification. “Ok, be safe, come home” I say. “Yes Ma’am” are the last words I hear him say. Ever.
I went to bed at 1030, he was to be home sometime after 11. At 2 am I wake up with my heart pounding out of my chest and I can’t breathe. I saw Matt wasn’t home. I call his cell. I call the duty office. I call the police. I call the hospitals. I called everywhere I could think of. I called my best friend, by now it’s 5 am. She comes over and drives over to the airport with me. I locate the FAA building with my 5 week old infant and my pregnant best friend. Since it’s a government building I had to ring the bell then wait to get buzzed in. So I ring the bell. I say my name. Then – through a F*^#%$&*@ speaker I hear someone say, “oh, are you hear about the crash?” The what? Ok, now I can’t breathe, and I sit down hard on the pavement. And then the door swings open and some woman comes out and is apologizing for the new girl… really? Really?!??!
Ok, so I take my new born baby out of the car and hand her to my friend because I can barely see straight and don’t want to drop her. We go inside the building and the ‘new girl’ behind the desk is still trying to apologize and she’s actually the one who tells me my husband is never coming home again. You see she says there is one fatality and one was taken to Queen’s Hospital. I knew right then Matt was gone. Because he would have been taken Tripler Army Medical Center, Not Queens. I sat in that cold drab lobby, sitting on the floor playing with Ashley. I sat there for 2 hours before the Chaplain showed up. I saw him get out of his car through the windows. The rest of the day is a blur of phone calls and people in crisp white uniforms filling up the space in our apartment.
The second time I met Matt’s parents: when I flew him home to be buried in the Monczynski family plot in a Catholic cemetery. I’m not Catholic. I guess that family plot doesn’t include me.
That’s ok because I know when I leave this Earth I will be greeted by the arms of my love. Matt I love you for eternity + one day.