"Fearless in Faith" (Matt Cappotelli) | Acrylic & Oil Pastel | Autumn Cleveland
How do I do this?
How do I say goodbye to one of my heros?
What feels the most natural is to say would I would to him…not to tell about him. If you had the blessing of knowing him, then I don't need to tell you anything about what an incredible person he was.
There are some things that I need to say to you. I need you to know how much you’ve impacted me. You gave me my first chance at a personal training job, and when I showed up to the interview 45 minutes late, and obviously stressed, you said “Take a breathe and relax.” I left feeling like I had blown my shot at getting the job from the beginning….but shortly after I received your acceptance of me to be a personal trainer at Ideal Fitness. Little did know then just how much you would change me.
I remember the little things….you would make fun of me for not being able to figure out the computer programs or miscounting the money drawer every night that I closed. I remember that you had to sit me down and remind me to wear my name tag and to show up on time and not be late….but you did it in a way that made me feel like I was valued. I remember watching you interact with our gym members…..you called them each by name and asked about them and their lives, or loved ones in it. You made everyone feel important and recognized. I remember all of our pranks….the Cucumber Wars, the time you listed my truck for sale on Craiglist for $1000 and made me cry from the stress, and the time I turned everything in your office upside down for you to find the next morning. I remember you laughing…..a lot. You would bring your same canned tuna with olive oil, salt & pepper and your sweet potatoes to eat for lunch, and you would get so mad if anyone left any evidence of a food crumb on your desk.
I remember coming into your office after I got out of class and before my training sessions began, at the beginning of what I thought was my life falling apart. I didn’t know who to talk to, but you listened. You helped me stick to my happiness and not to settle. You helped me find an apartment for myself. You helped me move my furniture. You went to the grocery store with me and taught me how to choose the best pepperonis, and I taught you that No-Bake Reese’s desserts existed. When I was in a car accident and came back to work anyway, you made me go to the hospital…which was a good thing that someone cared enough, because I had a concussion. You made a dermatologist appointment for me when you saw a suspicious mole on my leg. Turns out I had several precancerous cells that had to be removed quite a few times, so I’m glad you cared enough to make me go. When I had problems with my truck, you would come to my rescue. When I had problems in my relationship, you would listen and give me advice. In one of my loneliest times in my life, you were there for me. You were a male figure and a freind in my life when I needed one. When I saw what you had with your wife, and how much you loved and cared about her, you raised my standards for the type of partner that I wanted to have and kept me from accepting anything different. You showed me, by example, the kind of man that I wanted to wait for. Thanks to you, what I have with my boyfriend now is what I believe you had with Lindsay. I remember our Thanksgiving family workouts where we would sneak into the gym when it was closed and have a workout just for our crew. I remember you loved Dumb & Dumber so much, and your favorite quote: “We got no food, we got no jobs….our pets HEADS ARE FALLING OFF!” and you would laugh at it every time. I remember you showing me the misheard lyrics video of “Yellow Ledbetter” and we all laughed until we cried.
I remember looking up to you as my leader….as someone that I wanted to be more like. You knew how to make someone feel like you believed in them, respected them, and expected their best potential. You showed me what a good boss and a good manager was, and to this day I try to follow your lead. When I was broke and thought I needed another job, you created a second position for me just so I could make enough money to survive. When I wanted to try my hand at being a prep coach, you said “I’ll be your guinea pig.” If it weren’t for you letting me try that then, I wouldn’t have the confidence to be a prep coach now. When I had outgrown my time at that gym and told you I needed to go out on my own, you gave me nothing but encouragement and support. You said “ Let me know any way that I can help.” That meant the world to me.
I remember going out of my way to the Westport LAC on occasion, just because I missed seeing your smiling face and wanted to visit with you.
I remember the day that I came into your office, and you told me of your delayed complications that had come about from your chemo treatments that mimicked Parkinson’s. You explained it to me, but it didn’t match up. I knew then something just didn’t seem right. You didn’t seem like YOU. I didn’t know how to say it, but I knew then something was wrong.
2 weeks later I became aware of your diagnosis of GBM. My heart sank when I looked up the life expectancy.
After only knowing you for 6 years, you taught me a lifetime of lessons and improved my life so much….and then the clock started ticking.
Immediately, you called and asked me to help with a ketogenic diet, to slow down the cancer.
I came to visit you on your birthday, and I could tell you were tired.
I came over at Christmas and I could tell you were trying to fight, and mental processes were more challenging for you.
I came over in March. When I pulled up to your house, a new ramp to your front door had been built for your wheelchair.
I came over in April, and I watched your mother feed you your protein shake with a spoon, because you couldn’t do it yourself. You also couldn’t say much, but you did give me the best thumbs up of my life and you laughed at one of my jokes…really hard.
I came over in May, and when I hugged you, you were too weakened to hug me back. I showed you the painting I made of you, to show you how inspirational you are to me and to so many people. You couldn’t talk, but your eyes said what I needed to know….that you felt how significant you are to me.
I started to write this letter in May, but I couldn’t get the words right. I thought I would send this to you for Lindsay to read, because I know I would be a sobbing mess if I tried to tell you myself.
Another week went by, and I didn’t send it.
Another 2 weeks went by. I finally got my Pro card at a competition after 15 years, and achieved a life goal that you had unwavering faith that I could do it. I wanted to tell you how much of a role you played in me achieving my dreams. But I knew you were exhasted. I didn’t want to cost you any energy that you had left.
A few days went by and I wondered if you knew how much you have impacted me, and how much you have changed my life, even if I didn’t say it.
A few nights ago, I had a dream that you were laughing, talking, and walking around. You were able. You were whole. You were complete. I woke up smiling, and had a feeling of peace.
The next morning, I found out that you had passed.
The day that I tried to prepare myself for in an entire year, had come.
And in this time, a part of me feels like it’s missing.
There are certain souls that I connect with on this earth that really bring my awareness to Purpose. What you have done in your 38 years of life is more than what some people will ever do in an entire lifetime. You served your purpose, Matt. You fought a fight that will inspire us for years to come. The ripple that was created from your existence in the ocean of everyone that you’ve touched will be felt forever. You make me try to be a better human, a better friend, a better leader, a better partner, you remind me to laugh as much as possible, and you have shown me how to help others grow with your belief and generosity. You showed me how to love life fully, and not take things, people, and time, for granted. The world needed you. I needed you. I will live my life to try to be the best human that I can be. I want to be for another human, what you were for me. Because of you, I tell others how much they mean to me and that I love them any chance that I get. Because of you, I push harder to overcome life’s challenges. Because of you, I try to have a good attitude even when the circumstances are unfavorable. Because of you, I don’t waste time.
You’ve shaped me into the kind of person that I want to become…and I know that I’m not the only one you’ve impacted in this way.
As I write my book of my own personal growth, you will forever hold your own permanent chapter there.
And it will bring me so much to happiness to go back a re-read it, over and over again, for the rest of my life.