Gone But Never Forgotten
To me...and to alot of my closest friends and family...today is a very special day. I wish I could say that there was a better reason why it was so special. Unfortunately, our close-knit little inner circle became one person smaller on this date four years ago...and things have never been the same since. Back in August...if you have been keeping up with these posts at all...I talked about a dear friend of mine named Belinda, who died suddenly one night for no rhyme or reason. She was with us all on Friday...and gone Saturday. Apparently life just works that way sometimes. Well six weeks after Belinda was taken from us...after convincing myself that life couldn't get ANY worse...I was proven wrong. Oh boy was I ever proven wrong. Got a call on my cell phone on a Sunday night out of the blue. The screen said "Matt Cell" and I answered it with a smile on my face, fully expecting to the always uplifting voice of one of my best friends and all-time favorite people on the other end. But it wasn't. Instead, I was told that Matt had passed away just 3 months shy of his 40th birthday (or BIRF-day as he would have said). Talk about having things spin out of control on you. Well since it is Matt's "anniversary" so to speak....and since he had such a HUGE impact on the person that I am today...I thought I would honor his memory by talking about him for a little while. I could go on and on...and on...where this subject is concerned. But I will try to keep it within reason. I will apologize in advance though if case that doesn't happen....lol. I met Matt way back in the summer of 1988. I was a senior in high school and had just landed the dream job of a lifetime as far as I was concerned....working at a little sporting good store in my neighborhood called Sports and Recreation.
If you grew up in Astoria, Queens, then surely you know that before there was Modells....before Foot Locker....before Sports Authority...there was Sports & Rec. My years there were some of the greatest of my life. Matt was one of the very first people I was introduced to after I was hired, and I quickly realized that I had found the older brother I didn't even know I wanted. He was absolutely the funniest person I have ever known...as well as being quite possibly the most honest and upstanding. Over two decades he was my co-worker, my team-mate in just about every sport, and my very first roommate when I moved out on my own. He taught me how to drive, drained MANY beer and whiskey bottles with me in my dark/drinkin days, stood with me in my wedding party, made me laugh more times that I can count....and without a doubt made me a better person for having known him. I also take great pride in the fact that he held my daughter in his arms not long after she was born (a HUGE deal because Matt was not what you would call a "kid person" necessarily). Even after four years I still miss him every day. If there is one positive that I have taken from his loss....it is to enjoy life and never lose sight of how precious and fragile it really can be. Honoring Matt's memory is one of the reasons I decided to push myself so hard to get to a healthier place in life a few years ago. Not to mention to make sure that I am here for my friends and family...and especially for Meghan.....for as long as possible. So tonight's blog entry is dedicated in loving memory to Mr. Matthew Joseph Gilhooley. My brother-from-another-mother. My co-worker, my room-mate, my teacher, my confidant and most important of all, my friend.
Rest in Peace brother...you left a lifetime of memories and you will be in our hearts forever.