Monday, April 21, 2014

Celebrating Matthew's Beautiful Life - Honoring His Memory

Matt was passionate about so many things that it was difficult for our family to choose one way to use the donations given in his memory. So we have decided to set up three memorial funds to honor the wonderful and amazing life Matt led.  Thank you to those who have already sent donations.  Our family will distribute that money to the funds below.

Matt loved his family and we all know he loved books and loved to learn. Matt also LOVED his nieces and nephew and was so great with them during the short time he got to spend with them. Uncle Matt always bragged about his nieces and nephew, showing his friends lots of pictures and videos. So some of the memorial donations will be placed into an education fund for his nieces and nephew to split equally. We think this will be very meaningful to Abigail, Avery, Ellie, & Isaiah when they graduate from high school and have this incredible gift from their always adoring Uncle Matt.

to the "Uncle Matt" fund

Matt was also an incredibly talented writer. He was particularly passionate and gifted at writing poetry. He was also a serious reader and loved to collect books. A portion of the memorial donations will be directed to support this part of his life. The specifics for this portion of the funds has not yet been determined, but it will go to support young writers through an award or scholarship fund.

to the "Matthew S. Therrien, poet" fund

Matt was very involved in whatever community he lived in and touched may lives through his youth mentorship. He was particularly passionate about the work he did with the Service Board (tSB) in Seattle, WA. Matt loved snowboarding and he was always up for an adventure. tSB mentors teens to conquer personal and cultural challenges through public service and outdoor adventures. A portion of Matt's memorial funds will be given to tSB in his name.  Another portion of these youth mentorship funds will be given in Matt's name to the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hawaii, a group Matt volunteered with in Hilo.  You can see Matt talk about the importance of mentorship in this Big Brothers Big Sisters video.

to the "Matt the mentor" fund

Celebrating Matthew's Beautiful Life - Saying Goodbye

On Saturday, April 12th Matt's family, friends, and community gathered to grieve together and celebrate the wonderful life he led during the much too short 26 years we had with him.  Matthew wanted his ashes spread in three different places on the island and one of those was at Laupahoehoe Point.  So we gathered as a group at the old school gym to remember Matt.  We all laughed and cried through the "eulogy in pictures" slideshow his partner Vicky put together of pictures throughout Matt's life that perfectly captured Matt's joyful spirit. The slideshow and pictures from the event can be viewed here.  One of Matthew's poetry professors read one of Matt's poems that illustrated Matt's strong sense of social justice and showcased his writing talents.  Then Matt's father Mark shared this piece that Matt wrote in the fourth grade after a weekend camping at Laupahoehoe Point.

Waves Against the Rocks

When I go to the ocean and the waves crash against the rocks, it’s like I’m in a whole different world. The wind has the fragrance of the salt from the ocean. I stand on a rock and get sprayed with cool, moisturizing water. You can listen to the rhythmic lapping and great thunderous symphony of the ocean. When you stick out your tongue, in comes the bitter taste of saltiness. This is a place where you can lay without anything to do and think about troubles, happy times, and your future. Or you can rest your mind and fall into a deep slumber and be content with your life. But when you leave, that world disappears until you come again and open your mind to the ocean.

Immediately following this we all followed Matt's parents and family in a silent mindfulness walk to the ocean, remembering Matthew and the ways he touched each of our lives. Once we reached the point, Mark was paddled out into the ocean by a friend of the family, sent off in a shower of flowers thrown from shore.  Once out to sea, beyond the lava rocks, Mark placed Matt's ashes into the ocean while everyone watched from shore.  As he did this buckets of gorgeous Hawaiian flowers were dropped from a helicopter, giving Matt the grand send off he deserved.

mindfulness walk to the ocean



After the grand send off everyone slowly made their way back to the gym for a local style potluck to "talk story," sharing many fond memories of Matt, while family friends played Hawaiian music for everyone to enjoy.  We created prayer flag style memory wall where people wrote memories of Matt on colored index cards and hung them on a line for others to read and for Matt's family to keep.  The entire event was so "very Matt" and was a perfect way to say good bye to our dear son, brother, partner, and friend.