Saturday, January 22, 2011

Your Stories: Cherish the moment

Dear Whitney,

I’ve been reading your blog for a couple months, and am still working on catching all the way up. It’s inspiring to see love in its purest form. I just read Addie’s story, posted November 11th, and cried, and immediately felt like I should share mine. I will warn you, it’s kinda long, and you will need tissues handy.

Matt and I were not like you and Cayden, or any of the other stories I’ve read on your blog. Ours is not a story of love at first sight, it took some growing.

I live in a very small town, the population is less than 20,000, and it is very safe and close knit around here. Most of us know one another, rumors and stories spread like wildfire. We are also a college community, with one large university, and another fairly large university all within 20 miles. This is the country, I don’t always lock my doors, and am usually pretty safe walking the streets in the dark by myself.

I have a very good friend Kevin, whose family has adopted me as one of their own. I call his parents Momma T and Dad more often than not. Matt is Kevin’s best friend, so we obviously run in the same circles occasionally. As many times over the years that I met Matt, it just never stuck. He was married, and for whatever reason, he just didn’t make a lasting impression on me. Matt and his wife finally separated (it was one of those marriages that should never have happened in the first place, but produced two of the finest children I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing).

One day early in October, Momma T called me, asked me if I would watch Kevin and Matt’s kids so they could help them with some things around the house, they needed their strong arms. Of course I did (I am a nanny by profession, so it comes natural). This time it stuck. But I thought Matt would become exactly the kind of friend to me Kevin always has, the one that is more like a brother than anything else.

I played in the leaves with the kids, of course the guys had to join in at one point and we were all covered in leaves, but it was the best time. Matt was on the roof of the house doing something, and I can’t remember what his son did, but I told him if he didn’t stop he’d have to sit in time out, to which Matt responded “You rock!” His wife never disciplined the children. I believe in discipline and making children do as their supposed to. They need to learn boundaries and respect.

From that day on Matt and I began spending more time together, usually with the kids and/or Kevin and his son around. I knew that Matt was developing feelings for me, and but I still felt like he was going to just be brother to me. Until we all (Kevin and his parents, Matt and I, and several others) took a road trip to Charlotte, North Carolina for a football game.

The plan was for Kevin, Matt and I to share a hotel room for the weekend. The first night we were there, we wanted to hit the downtown scene and see what we could get into. We went into a bar, and Kevin and I got pretty drunk, pretty fast. Before it was said and done, Kevin and his parents and I got into the biggest fight we’ve ever been into, three against me. They told me they were disappointed in my behavior and that I needed to grow up. My feelings were very hurt because I Kevin’s behavior was no better than mine.

But, of course, Matt was there to take care of me. He took me back to our hotel room, and comforted me as I cried, wiping the tears from my eyes. Something between us changed that night, but I still wasn’t ready to admit that I was falling in love with him.

I was so afraid. I’ve always had very serious problems with men and I’d never met a man as caring, considerate, generous, and thoughtful as Matt. I was also afraid because I was already becoming very attached to his children. But from that weekend on, Matt and I spend more and more time together, more time alone.

Every time he came over, he brought me a Starbucks coffee. He found real mistletoe and hung it in my door way, we decorated my house for Christmas together. He’s always doing something to make me happy or make my life a little easier. We were still trying to convince ourselves that we were just friends though, I mean, he hadn’t even kissed me (not even when he hung the mistletoe), and truth be told, I didn’t want him to. I was scared to death that when he did I wouldn’t be able to pretend that we weren’t more than friends anymore.

A week before Christmas he told me he had a secret, I of course begged him to let me in on it; he knows how curious and nosy I am. He told me he would tell me the next time he saw me. So that night when I got home from spending time with my family, he came over. The whole time in between he kept texting me to antagonize me about it. Counting down until I could learn this secret he had.

When he walked through my door instead of the coffee that was usually in his hand, there was a jewelry store bag. This wasn’t a secret, it was a surprise! It was a gorgeous double heart diamond necklace. I couldn’t believe he would do something like that for me. Matt doesn’t have a lot of money, and all of it should be going to his kids for Christmas and such, and I told him as much. But at the same time I was so very touched that he would buy me something like that. No man had ever done anything so kind.

I didn’t realize it, but I fell in love with him that day. I knew that no man would ever treat me as well as Matt, and I knew that he was falling in love with me too. At this point, although he still hadn’t kissed me (let me tell you, he’s so shy about that kind of thing), we were really only waiting until his divorce is final (which will be in February) before anything official happens. We want to take things very slow, we’re both very scared and have both been through so much.

Three days after he gave me the necklace, on December 21st, Matt was brutally murdered in his house, buy his wife and her “fiancé”.

Matt was the greatest love of my life, and now I will never get to share my life with him. I never even got to tell him that I loved him. I didn’t get to kiss his lips and show him what he meant to me. So don’t ever let fear stop you from following your heart and showing that person you love more than life what they mean to you.

My fairytale ending has been ripped away from me in the cruelest way. Always cherish the love in your life, because you never know when that might be taken away from you. I thought I had all the time in the world with Matt. I thought I’d have the rest of our lives to live our fairytale.

I continue to read your blog, though sometimes it’s kind of hard to swallow, and is kind of sad for me, but Whitney, always hold tight to this. You don’t want to forget a single moment with Cayden. Hold him close and always tell him what he means to you. And if he is anything like my prince charming, he is always showing you in all those tiny little ways what you mean to me. Give him a kiss in honor of Matt and me.


*Follow up Note from Jenna:
The Red Cross is hosting a Matt McPeak Memorial blood drive on February 26th. Obviously readers across the country can't come here, but if they'd like to, they can go to any Red Cross Donor Center and donate in Matt's memory. We're saving lives in honor of the precious life we lost. We will hold more drives every 56-60 days or so, if you would like I can give you those dates as they plan them so anyone wishing to donate may do so along with Matt's family and friends.
Thanks, and thank you for your kind words and thoughts.
More info here.



  1. I feel so bad for all of them. It makes me want to say I love you to the guy I have fell for...I've been holding it back because I know he plans to move out of state in six months.

  2. I'm rarely without words. And rarely "with" tears. Today, as I've just read this, I have broken tradition on both. My heart is breaking for Jenna and Matts kids. Thank you for sharing her story Whitney. It makes me want to be brave in ways I haven't for a very long time regarding dating/men/feelings, etc.

  3. Jenna - thanks for sharing your story. It's a nice reminder that there are great men out there who do things the right way, and it's extremely sad his ex-wife could be so incredibly selfish. Great men like Matt are hard to find. I can't believe he was only 25.

  4. Holy Shit. When I was reading this, I was like, "okay, I don't understand why I need tissues?" This is awful, but thank you to Jenna for sharing with us. It makes me realize that you don't have forever, and you have to tell those you love every day.