I guess by now most everyone has heard that our friend and community leader Matt Sanchez lost his battle with cancer earlier this month. Matt had confided in me about his illness but I never thought he would leave us so soon. From the moment he told me about his illness I had been thinking just how much Matt’s support has meant to me. I would try to regularly go by and visit him and as his condition worsened it was so hard for me not to share with others what he was going through.
I guess the first time I admitted to myself he was losing his battle I had a friend with me and could not really talk with him about anything. So on my very next visit we embraced as usual but I asked him if he was ok and ready for what was coming, and Matt standing tall said to me he was at peace. For almost a month now I have been trying to write something about Matt and I just do not have the words. Even near the end when I would email him I came up blank;
You are always in my thoughts and because of that I am finally in therapy!
I know what you’re thinking but no the therapy is not helping at all. I have been
Sitting here trying to write you for hours and that just came out. I just wanted you
To know I was thinking about you (My last email to him)
I thought Matt’s decision not to share with us all what was going on prevented others from showing him just how much he meant and was loved by us all, boy was I wrong. Below is a portion of Santa Barbara Independent writer Nick Welsh’s column from yesterday where he shares his experience at Matt’s memorial service. All that I can add to his article is how I felt at the end of the day. It was like I had attended a huge family wedding, the kind where friends and family who have moved away come home. It was the kind of event that with every turn there was someone else to greet with a huge embrace and share a memory about Matt. Truth be told I don’t think we will ever stop showing Matt’ Sanchez that we love him.
Dog as My Copilot
Good Gnus: True Stories to Inoculate Yourself Against Mass Stupidity
Thursday, August 30, 2012 BY NICK WELSH (CONTACT) @ http://www.independent.com/news/2012/aug/30/dog-my-co-pilot/
“Having gotten that off my chest, let me express my amazement at how more than 1,500 people packed the Granada Theatre last Saturday afternoon to say so long to Matt Sanchez, the Montecito barber and former gang member who worked so long and so stubbornly to keep others from following the path he charted as a young, charismatic, and scary shot-caller from the Eastside. I knew Matt a little and was most struck by the raw stamina of his optimism, even when the tribulations of his own life would have given Job a run for his money. Sanchez’s gift was seeing the good in others, even and especially when they couldn’t see it in themselves. Based on the testimony of several young men, Sanchez brought out the best in them. I was equally struck by the mix of people who showed up to get their ears seriously bent by some seriously talented speechifying preachers, including the likes of Father Greg Boyle, now almost a celebrity for his work with gang members in Los Angeles. Every vegetable from Santa Barbara’s salad bar was on hand: sitting judges, ex-cops, ex-gangsters, recovering addicts from every school of abuse, politicians past and present, a whole bunch of hoods he took to the woods, activists of every stripe, a sizable contingent of Harley riders, school board members who sought Sanchez’s advice before deciding whether to expel or to suspend, and plenty of patrons from the Montecito barbershop who, it became clear, gave Matt the “hundreds of dollars” it cost to take at-risk kids on field trips to the Sierras — as opposed to the “hundreds of thousands,” Sanchez said (via film clip) it costs to lock them up in a state facility instead. And in terms of Santa Barbara’s persistent Juan Crow, white-brown cultural divide, the memorial was spectacularly ecumenical. I admit I lost the point of the parable about Elijah, and Eligia, but the moral of the story of how Sanchez brought traffic on Highway 5 to a halt so he could rescue a dog loose on what would otherwise have been a fatal stretch of freeway was unmistakable.”
Thanks Nick for sharing what you saw and how you feel.!
S.B.C.C.C. The place where COMMON SENSE never goes out of style!