Sunday, July 26, 2009

Goodbye Matthew

Matthew Humphreys
I have waited many weeks to write this blog entry about Matthew, who recently passed away on July 2nd, by his own hands. I think that my brain needed some time to process the events that I foresaw as inevitable. Matthew was always kind to me, straight to the point and real no-b.s. kind of guy. My comments in this entry will be the same. They are not meant to upset anyone.

I met Matthew many years ago through my coworker, Lisa, who would later become his wife. Some just seem to have the "it" factor, and Matthew was one of those people. Handsome, energetic and charismatic, he made quite an impression on me. I worked for him in a professional manner building many web sites for his businesses and personal endeavors in music. If you are interested, you can hear the music that he wrote on his web site: The songs will give you a glimpse into his psyche and talent that he had.

One day he approached me with a special project that he had in mind. He confessed to me that he had been living with severe chronic pain for many years. Matthew suffered from Fibro Mialgia, a misunderstood medical condition, and it had taken its toll on his vibrant spirit.

At first, Matthew was private about his condition, and many people to this day do not know the agony that he was going through. He wanted to document the pain and suffering of his condition for the world to see, and I felt privileged to be let into his private world.

We called the photos the "Pain" series and we shot them one weekend when nobody was around. When I began to take the photos, Matthew went into a what can be described as a trance of grace. The look on his face was of one carrying a huge burden, but also one begging God for mercy from his suffering. Whatever happened, I kept clicking away. Then he came out of the fog and he was normal Matthew again. You can see the "pain" photos here.

I had originally thought that the photos would be some sort of creative therapy for Matthew, but I started to suspect something darker when I found out that he had not told his wife of the photo shoot. Lisa is a good friend of mine and this put me in a awkward position between a man and wife. I don't like to be the keeper of secrets, and I felt like Matthew would share the photos with her in his own time.

From comments made after the session, I suspected that Matthew had suicidal tendencies so I kept the photos from him for months until I ran out of excuses. I did not want to be part of his self destruction.

The story does not have a happy ending. Some of the photos were used in a emailed suicide note to the world. And though, family and friends prevented the first attempt, they could not stop the final event.

I pass no judgment on Matthew or his actions. Life is complicated and nobody can imagine what his world must have been like. I choose to remember Matthew as a man of humor and grace who always treated decently... and one who let me see into his private world for one brief glimpse.