Saturday, August 22, 2009

Goodbye Mattie

There can be no other post today, because I cannot think about anything else. Friday morning, a nine year old boy we know, who is in our 4-H club, was killed at our local fair.

Thursday we drove to Ninilchik, about 1 1/2 hours, to take our fair entries. The fair started on Friday, but everyone always sets up on the day before, does their judges interviews, gets their animals in their stalls, and etc. We were all thrilled with the sunny weather, and it was a bustle of activity everywhere you looked. The 4-H club children were all excited, bathing their sheep, cows, and pigs for the showmanship classes on Friday. My girls stopped to play and laugh with Mattie, a nine year old friend of theirs. He was hanging out at the cow barn, eager to show them his prize cauliflower, excited and raring to go. The cutest little toughie farm boy, he is small for nine years but makes up for it in energy.

It was the first day of our small county fair. That morning, Friday, Mattie made a dire mistake, one that would cost him his very life. I am sure it seemed innocent at the time. In his little boy mind, it made perfect sense to tie the short rope from his milk cow around his waist, instead of standing there holding the rope while she grazed. But the huge cow got spooked, and she bolted. Mattie was dragged and trampled, while at least a hundred people ran and screamed and tried to stop the cow. By the time it stopped, the cow had gone quite a ways, and had crashed through a fence. When people rushed in, Mattie was not breathing. He had terrible injuries. His dad was the one who untied the rope and started CPR. Help was called, but there is no hospital in the tiny town, and the helicopter seemed like it took forever. Mattie was rushed to Anchorage, but his head injuries were too severe, and he died that night.

Our community is in shock and agony. Mattie is the youngest in his family, they are a wonderful family who has been some of the biggest leaders in our 4-H family...and very active in our horse groups too. They have always raised horses, cows, sheep, pigs and llamas. We hope and pray that they can be swept up on the wings of thousands of prayers right now, prayers for their comfort, for peace, for the strength to carry on moment by moment and day by day without their precious little boy.

My mind whirls and tries to take in this unreal event. How can he be gone in the blink of an eye? How do we 4-H parents wrap our brain around the idea, before a distant possibility, now a stark reality, that our animals can kill our children? That a farm pet can destroy dreams, rip up a family, and shred hearts? Its staggering.

This is a small town, a small close-knit 4-H family. We all know and love one another. All of the children, especially, love each other and support each other, and know each other's animals by name. Its hard to imagine how each child will process this, having been there and witnessed the tragedy in person.

Please join me, this family needs our prayers. His older sister, who saw this happen, needs our prayers. Our community needs your prayers. Each child and our 4-H families and leaders need your prayers. It will be a struggle and a challenge to make sense of this, and we probably never will be able to let go of the what-ifs. Only God can give us peace when the world offers none. He promises us the peace that passes understanding, and its for situations like this that he gives us this resting place. We surely need it now.

Goodbye Mattie. Your smile will never be forgotten. You will be mourned by us always.


13 comments:

Andi (RrlScrapGal) said...

My deepest prayers go out to all of you... As a mom of two who are 10 and 11; as a woman who used to be the Fair Manager of our County Fair for 5 years, and as a ranch wife... whose kids are always around large and small animals...

My heart goes out to all of YOU!!!!! So so so sad...

Leah said...

You have such a way with words.

I agree completely, and my heart has been in my throat all day. So devastating. So unfixable.

Love ya, Sis.
~L

Tam said...

O how devastating! Having two little boys of my own...I often see the things in little boys minds! Again HOW devastating for that family and the entire community!

bonnie said...

what a beautifully-written message about a devastating loss. may all who mourn over this loss be lifted, as you said, on wings of prayer; may they find strength in knowing that this precious boy is with God.

Mere said...

My heart and prayers are with Mattie's family, your family and your community. What a heart-wrenching and sad story :(

Love, Mere

pam said...

Prayers for the family of sweet Mattie and for the community that is in mourning. May his memory be eternal and his spirit fill the hearts of those who loved him.

Kim said...

Oh, Geri, I am so very sorry to read this. (I have also seen it in the news—local, of course, but even on a couple national sites that I read. It's just so shocking and horrible.) This tragedy moves me to my very core, as I have a 9-year-old daughter and I can understand completely how little Mattie would have been thinking. I'm praying for the family and that God will give them some comfort in this time of terrible suffering—so, so sorry.

Mandi said...

My heart goes out to Mattie's family, your community, and your family as you grieve.

My prayers are with all of you. God Bless.

Bronwen said...

What a sweet faced boy he is. Such a terrible tragedy. Prayers for him, his family and his community to heal and remember him.

Teresa Loop said...

I'm so terribly sorry to hear this. You are all in my thoughts and prayers...

Sandra said...

Very eloquent and touching cuz. My prayers have been going out for Matties family, friends and those who were there at the fair and despite valliant effort were unable to prevent this tragedy.

Lori said...

What an amazing tribute.

So heart wrenching.
I feel like I knew Mattie after reading this.
Prayers are going up for all affected, especially his parents and family, friends and all.

twinmama said...

I am absolutely heartbroken over your friends' loss.. What a tragedy.

I have been hearing so many tragic stories about little ones lately. It absolutely crushes me. They are so young and innocent. It is beyond understanding.

I have prayed for his family and your community. Blessings.