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A message from Matthew’s parents

Robert and Alexandra Ennis
Other Voices

Editor’s note: The following is the text of speech read at the Jan. 12 memorial service of Matthew Ennis that was written by his parents, who wish to share their message with the western Nevada County community.

We, of course, thank each and every one of you for taking the time to come and celebrate Matthew’s life.

We are forever grateful for family and friends who not only traveled long distances to be here today, but who have been our source of support throughout what has been the most trying time of our lives.



It is amazing to us just how many people this young man has touched. Some are here today, and some are not. But the love and friendship that surrounded Matthew is undeniable.

We would like to think that the life of this young man who touched us all was not lived in vain. We believe that in Matt’s death there can be a lesson for each of us.

For those of you who join us in the hall next door, you will see a collage made up of pictures of Matthew. These pictures were chosen from hundreds of photos that we have taken as he grew up.




As you look at these pictures, please notice the joy not just in Matthew’s eyes but in the eyes of those that are in the photos with him. These pictures represent happier times.

Throughout Matthew’s entire life, he had things that made him happy. And we were happy sharing these times with him.

Was everything perfect? Of course not — but one minute of happiness with him outweighed a full day of anger or trouble.

As he grew up from the little boy who had to be taught to chew solid food into a young man, he inevitably passed from being a child who idolized his parents and found joy in everything we did with him into becoming a teenager who wanted to distance himself from us.

The endless days of joy slipped away into occasional times where we still enjoyed each other’s company. Still, the moments of joy far outweighed the longer days of emotional separation. At least for us they did.

No matter how bad things got between Matthew and us, there were still moments where we had a great time sharing each other’s company.

The innocent little boy who his parents knew grew up and found other ways to enjoy himself. His friends can attest to this.

He knew how to have a good time, and whatever he did, he did it his way. As he grew up, he increasingly gave his parents the gift of angst and frustration.

This is the same gift that all parents receive from their children, and it is the same gift that those same parents bestowed on their parents … it is the gift that keeps on giving.

Matt would get depressed over things, and when he got depressed he withdrew from his parents.

He may have confided in some of his friends, but for many others he kept up a party attitude which masked a dark cloud that often loomed inside of him.

This dark cloud caused him to take things out on himself. He made threats about his safety more often than we could count.

We attributed his threats to a need for attention – he never carried out anything he threatened; he just wanted reassurances that he was loved and needed by us.

With each threat, that reassurance from us became less and less. We always knew that nothing ever really got that bad; and even if it did there would be good times to offset the anger and frustration for both him and us.

On Dec. 30, Matt was once again depressed and angry with himself after being reprimanded for doing something silly.

Without going into details, let’s just say that this time, Matt decided to call our bluff and took action.

He actually did reach out for help outside of our family, but that cry for help was not acted upon.

We were unaware of his actions until it was virtually too late to reverse the consequences of them.

We know for sure that Matthew never intended for his actions to reach a point of no return.

He allowed a moment of anger to change the course of his family’s life, his friends’ lives, and the ultimate end of his own life.

Each one of you who are here came because you loved Matthew. We know that he loved each of you, too.

His time with us and his ability to enrich our lives is now over.

For some, you will move on and Matthew will become a happy memory. For those of us whose lives have been dedicated to his growth and well being, our lives will never be the same.

There is nothing we can do to bring Matt back. But we would like to think that the life of this young man who touched us all was not lived in vain. We believe that in Matt’s death there can be a lesson for each of us.

To Matt’s friends and peers:

Matt spent most of his lifetime making dangerous choices of one form or another.

He believed, as most of us do when we are young, that we will live forever. He thought that regardless of the choices that we make, there will always be a way out or we will be given a second chance.

For over half of his life, Matthew made his choices under this belief, never worrying about the consequences. Most of the time he was right.

But his last choice should be proof that sometimes you can accidentally cross a line from which you cannot return.

Do not let a moment of anger, despair or depression cause you to make a decision which could permanently affect you and the lives of those who care about you.

Regardless of how alone you may feel, there are those who would love nothing better than to reach out and help you.

You may not care much right now for those who raised you, but you will never find anyone who will love you more.

Given time and understanding, you can grow close to them again. Please give them that time and don’t throw everything away in a moment of anger.

No matter how bad you think things are, they never stay that way, and they will get better.

If you choose to make a rash decision, whether it is because you see no way out or whether it is because you wish to hurt those who love you, remember Matthew’s example that some decisions are permanent and leave behind scars on others that will never fully heal.

Nothing is worth making that decision. For your own sake and the sake of those who love you, reach out for help.

And if someone is reaching out to you in need, please do not turn your back on their cry for help.

If the thought of Matt’s actions and their result can save even one of you, then maybe his death will not have been in vain.

To the parents here today:

We start out believing that children are a gift from God. That feeling may slowly fade away as the little boy or girl who worshipped us as a youngster starts to shun us as they inevitably grow.

Whatever you do, do not turn your back on your children. Listen to them, not only for the things that they have to tell you but also for the things that they don’t say – it may save their life and yours.

Don’t hesitate for even a moment to offer your love and support to someone who may be quietly drowning in dark thoughts.

You will look down into the eyes of your 4 year old. Blink, and you will see a teenager.

You should never pass up the opportunity to spend time with your children, not only to teach them but to learn from them.

We showed Matthew the world – in turn he showed us how to see the wonder of the world through a child’s eyes.

Even in the normal course of life, your children will be gone before you know it.

Don’t assume that they will always be a part of your life … make the effort to make sure that they will want you as a part of their life.

Never, ever miss the chance to hug your child and to tell them how much you love them, regardless of how frustrated you may be with them or they with you.

The day might come when you would give up everything you own for that chance.

Robert and Alexandra Ennis live in Nevada City.


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