He never stopped.

Never even slowed down.  

Just kept on speeding through our quiet neighborhood as if nothing so tragic it would take our breath away had just happened. 

We still haven't fully caught our breath from the shock and confusion and pain of it all.  Some of us never will.  We just learn to live with our lungs half full, damaged but still viable.  

Monday, May 28, marks the one year anniversary of the day the world stopped on our little cul-de-sac.

But today, May 25th, is Matt's seventh birthday.

Today we remember.  Every mailbox in our neighborhood is wearing a blue ribbon, Matt's favorite color, in his honor.  

We lost our neighbor, our friend, our buddy, and we still miss him every single day.  Still think about those laughing blue eyes of his, that winsome little smile he always wore, that little toy jeep he loved to zoom around the cul-de-sac in and the early talent he showed for sports of just about any kind.  

Matthew Dahl, age six, was taken from us far too early.  He had just celebrated his sixth birthday three days before his death.

His leftover birthday cake was still in the fridge.

He had just finished kindergarten.

He just wanted to cross the street on his bike so he could join his playmates for a game of flashlight tag.  He strapped on his bike helmet and pedaled to where his friends were waiting.

Kids being kids, enjoying the brand new summer break and the freedom that comes with it.

In an instant, he was gone.  Hit and killed by a driver charged with drunk driving who never even hit the brakes.  

For the next forty-eight hours, I spent nearly every moment in the home of my friends who were experiencing indescribable pain.  I just did whatever I could and mostly cried with them.

I'll never, ever forget those two days.  I saw it firsthand.  This is something parents never recover from.  They just learn to keep breathing.  

I often wonder if that young man who killed Matt thinks about the suffering he caused by selfish, immature choices.  I struggle with anger and bitterness, wanting him to feel just a fraction of the pain Matt's parents have and continue to experience.  He's just a kid himself, so surely he can't possibly understand the depth of suffering in that home.  

But instead of focusing on the driver who took so much from the family and all of us who knew Matt, during this past year I've chosen to focus on the word "stop".

When's the last time I've stopped for no reason whatsoever but to wrap my arms around my daughters and remind them that I love them?  

Have I stopped lately to thank God for His undeserved blessing of healthy children who are still here with their Dad and me?

I stop more now just to watch them playing, to watch as they figure things out like tying their shoes and how to brush their hair.  Amidst all the running that goes along with motherhood, I don't want to forget to STOP.  To look around me at the little treasures entrusted to me, and to push every other trivial little responsibility I have that day off my top priority spot to make room for what really matters, being intentionally grateful for every single day God blesses me with as a mother of three.

When's the last time I stopped to take a short few minutes to write a note of encouragement to a friend?  To pick up the phone to see how someone's doing?  To just be there and help carry the load of a friend who needs a shoulder?

So I challenge you to join me.  

Will you stop?  

I don't want to miss opportunities to be a friend who's there during the good times and the bad.  I don't want to live with regret over missing mommy moments because I'm too busy to stop.  They will be gone before I know it, all those requests for me to snuggle them at bedtime and to draw silly pictures on their napkins for their lunch boxes.  


This photo was taken of all the kiddos on our cul-de-sac on Halloween, 2010.  Matt was so excited and happy in his green power rangers suit.  

We love you, Matt.  Miss you terribly but will see you again.  


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