Submitted by his mother, Ann Avdovich

Who Matthew was

Sarah in Zanzibar “setting Matthew’s soul free”

Matthew was intelligent, had a great interest in world affairs and had a good heart. He was planning a trip to Africa just weeks before he died. Matthew earned a university degree in international affairs. He was a partier and had a wide circle of friends.

After his brother Sean died suddenly at 13, Matthew became an advocate for the underdog and people who were different, like Sean was. He was always his sister Sarah’s greatest supporter and best friend. She and a friend made the trip to Africa in Matthew’s stead and scattered some of his remains on a beach in Zanzibar, “setting his soul free.” Sarah and her husband now have a son, whose middle name is Matthew, after his uncle.

Matthew would likely want to be remembered as a fun guy.

My clearest memory

My most vivid memories of my children are of the days they were born and my love for them. 

His accomplishments

Matthew

I’m not sure what he would have been most proud of. He loved his friends and was proud of his educational achievements and of great performance appraisals during his short career as a claims adjudicator for workers’ comp. After his death, I learned just how much of a positive impact Matthew had had on so many people … championing, encouraging and supporting them.

He was a risk taker

Matthew was very active and a risk taker all of his life. Parenting him was very challenging. His mind was a “squirrel cage.” He was impulsive and often angry. His dad and I always told him that we would love him no matter what, yet there were so many times we didn’t like what he was doing. Matthew started drinking and smoking pot in his mid-teens and would go overboard. Ultimately, his drug of choice was cocaine. The autopsy determined that it was an opioid that killed him, and we will never know just what the circumstances were.

How drugs changed our relationship

Life was very difficult. When Matthew was still living at home, our lives were dysfunctional and chaotic. Matthew was always a challenge to parent. Drug use made it unbearable at times. There was stealing, lies, arrests, trips to courtrooms. He was angry and defiant toward his dad and especially toward me. It is only in hindsight that I can see he was suffering. When in the midst of it, I couldn’t do that. 

Matthew’s struggle

Matthew had an addictive personality all his life, wanting instant gratification and needing to be stimulated all the time. He did attend treatment programs and voluntarily checked into hospitals. His life became a torment for him. He told me that he was unhappy being stoned and unhappy being clean, and he didn’t feel life was worth living. It was just after being discharged from a treatment program that Matthew was found unresponsive in a fellow patient’s parent’s home.

What I would say to him now

I miss you and Sean intensely and will always love you.