Angry, hurt, confused
There aren’t words to say
Words aren’t remembered
But presence is
A good friend once told me
And he was there
He was there
But she wasn’t there
And it’s not fair
It’s not fair*
Not enough people knew about Matt. I barely feel like I knew him, certainly not well enough to write him a proper eulogy. I do know that at age 25, he always seemed older than he was – at age 18, he strode up to me and confidently declared he’d handle our intramural jerseys through his own t-shirt company. And he did.
Matt loved Alabama football. As much as anyone I know. After the SEC Championship Game win over Florida this past December, Matt posted a facebook status warning, “All my Auburn friends might want to block me for the next 72 hours or so.”
My friend Matt Miller loved Camp Sumatanga — he served there every summer for as long as anyone can remember, and everyone there remembers him as a guy who was quick to say whatever was on his mind, and quick with a hug.
“You never got cheated on a hug from Matt.” That was my wife’s memory of him.
And my friend Matt loved the Lord. He had dedicated his life to ministry, was less than one semester away from completing his seminary work and was already pastoring a small church in Millport, Ala.
“Matt was one of our most promising young ministers.” That was Bishop Will Willimon’s memory of him.
For reasons unbeknownst to all of us, God chose to call Matt home Saturday — an accident while he was hunting with his dad in Arkansas. He died only a few hours before his favorite football team celebrated a national championship in Tuscaloosa.
On Wednesday they’ll bury his earthly remains. And the rest of us will have to carry on without him.
If you think I’m angry and having a hard time knowing how to carry on, you’re right. Because it’s not fair.
I don’t weep for Matt. Matt’s just fine. He got the best seat in the house on Saturday, and I suspect he hasn’t stopped talking to everybody he can grab hold of since he left this earth.
No, I cry for all of us down here. I cry for the work he wasn’t able to finish while he was here. I cry for his family, his extended family, the one that stretches all across North Alabama, from Hoover to Millport to Tuscaloosa to Sumatanga and way beyond that.
We’re the ones who are lost today.
*The song is actually an old Derek Webb tune, which appeared on the first Caedmons Call CD. It's painful to listen to, because Webb's voice takes on the persona of a weeping funeral guest. Yeah.