“Years ago, we came across this ‘Before I Die’ board in Georgia. Matt thought about what he wanted to write as we walked around on a beautiful, warm Georgia day. When we came back to the board, he quietly walked over, picked up the chalk, and started writing: ‘Before I die, I want to see my Quinn grow up.’
We never thought for a second he wouldn’t live to see that.
Six months ago, he took his last breath here on earth. Every hope and dream we had for our future together died with him that day. For the rest of her life, Quinn will live without her biggest fan — her dad.
Dads have a hard job. They are the providers, the ones who are supposed to always be strong, the ones who carry the family through the good times and the bad. Watching Matt unable to do that for us killed me. He was always the one who made sure we were ok. Dads don’t get a break from the weight of the responsibility of taking care of a family because they are sick. It’s still there, it just crushes them more when they are unable to function.
I have learned a lot about life since cancer came into our lives. I used to think financial stability, a nice house, nice cars, and money in the bank meant something. I know now my priorities were skewed.
Matt lived life to the absolute fullest. He was always the first one to book a trip, take a day off to do something fun, and calm my nerves when I thought things we were doing cost too much. He understood the value of a moment. Maybe somehow he knew his moments were limited, but I have adopted his way of thinking.
Life is short. Your kids are only kids for a little while. Our daughter will be 7 next month, and as much as I wish it wasn’t true, the years are flying by. I will forever cherish the memories he worked so hard to make with her. I will never regret one trip, one expensive event, one special thing with her and for her. She was his whole world and they were both mine.
20 years from now, your kids won’t care whether you were the most successful person at work. They won’t care whether or not you always made the most responsible choices. They will know you made choices with love.
Your kids will remember that time dad came through with something amazing for them.
When I look back over my own childhood, I see my parents working hard to give us the world. I see them showing up for baseball games, dance recitals, pageants, and every other event we had. I know they struggled at times, but the love was there to drown out the troubles.
Matt showed up. From day one, he never let her down. If you can take anything at all from our tragedy and apply it to your life, let it be this: The days are long but the years are short. Make them count.
He won’t see her grow up. But we will continue to live every day of this life we have like he would’ve wanted us to, soaking up every opportunity we’ve got.
Take the trip.
Do all the things.
Family is greater than work. Always.
Love each other. Because in the end, that’s all we really have anyway. Everything else is just noise.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Cyndi Smith of Moody, Alabama. Follow her journey on her website here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more stories from Cyndi:
‘Unprompted by any of us, she began drawing in the sand. ‘I love you’. It took my breath away thinking about her leaving messages in the sand to her dad.’: Widow and young daughter visit Wales to spread husband’s ashes
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