My heart paused, my throat seized, and my eyes flooded with tears. Matthew died today.
Matthew's dad, James, told me that his son left this world peacefully and went to be with the Lord. James belongs in the "Dad Hall of Fame". For the past quarter of a century, James has loved, protected, and provided for his family like an All Pro Husband and Father. He works hard every day and gives the good Lord thanks for all his blessings. He has a strong faith, a wife who adores him, and children who respect him. For 10 years, James has walked with his son, waging war against cancer, celebrating with his family on the peaks, and carrying them through the valleys. Today, James completed a very noble and honorable assignment- walking his son to the gates of Heaven. One father handing his son to another. Well done, James. Well done.
At 15 years old, Matthew was an All Star Athlete. He beat cancer many times and tackled every setback to make a comeback. In the forth quarter of his life, during the final minutes on the clock, he ran long for the winning touchdown and won the game. Matthew bravely followed his Savior into death and found a life that will never die. Because of Jesus, the grave is not the goal, and the funeral is not the finish. Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared person, and Matthew was ready.
Tonight he is celebrating with his Savior and the whole heavenly host, remembered by his earthly friends and family as a legendary son, brother, and Bison-bred All Star Quarterback.
Matt, if you are reading this, I know you don't want all this attention. But I want everyone to know that you are one of my heroes. Thank you for all you've taught me about kindness, patience, and sacrifice. Thank you for being such a great example and role model for my boys. Chelsea and the kids and I celebrated you tonight by baking a special cake in your honor, singing songs of thanks and praise loudly, and magnifying God for all He has done and will do through your amazing life.
Thank you who have been praying for Matthew and his family. Please continue. It is in times like these when the power of prayer is felt most deeply and appreciated most sincerely. Thank you who have stopped by to visit and bring the Sandgrens your love, strength, and home-cooked meals. Nothing says, "I care" like Indian Tacos and a Three Bean Casserole!
A house in South Dakota will feel strangely empty tonight, but a mansion in Heaven has filled one more room. And I have no doubt that room has a filled fridge next to the bed and is decorated floor to ceiling with everything Green Bay Packers.
We miss you Matt. We love you Man!