Last year I started my first teaching job. I met Matt a couple weeks before school began at a faculty party. I’m not a particularly extroverted guy and I was keeping mostly quiet as my girlfriend talked to some of the other teachers. I remember Matt saying, “I like that you’re quiet. I think we’ll get along well.” I wasn’t too sure of what to make of the comment at the time and it took a couple more months of knowing him to figure out it had probably been sincere.
Several months into the year I began stopping by Matt’s room in the morning before the kids got in. The rest of the building would be dark and he’d be there with an energy drink or coffee in hand, staring into his computer and planning out a lesson. Sometimes we talked about teaching, sometimes we talked about writing, sometimes we just talked.
Over the summer Matt and I started a two person book club. He’d always wanted to read Underworld by Don DeLillo, so we picked up two copies and met every couple of weeks at a Starbucks to talk about DeLillo’s genius lines. The book is massive and we made slow and steady progress. Eventually school started back up and we had less time to read. But at least we got to hang out in those quiet morning hours again.
On December 10, 2017, Matt passed away. I remember every moment of that day. To recover, I took the next day off and spent some time writing and thinking. Matt was a musician and loved being creative. I’m not a musician, but I decided I would honor him with a painting. Below is the step-by-step process.
The painting is 8 x 10″. I worked on it off and on for a couple months. It’s not perfect, but it was time spent with Matt.