Dave's Progress. Chapter 34: In Memoriam.

Unfortunately I have some very sad news to relay in this blog. A member of The Pathways Group, the team behind the making of our short film, "The Search" (see my posts entitled "Hollywood Here I Come" parts 1,2 and 3) has tragically passed away.
His name was Matthew John Aitken, known to us and to his many friends simply as "Matt". He was only 37 years old at the time of his death. The reasons for his abrupt and shocking departure from us are not fully known to me, so I shall not speculate, other than to say Matt lived life, despite his diagnosis of mental ill health, to the full.
His many interests included an abiding love of rock music, particularly the heavy metal variety, and he seemed to constantly be attending gigs where his favourite bands would play. Indeed, with his appearance of long hair pulled back into a pony tail and his many piercings and tattoos, you could say that Matt looked for all the world like a rock star. In fact, I think at one point he did try to start a band and he also played guitar.
He was a witty, bright and lively member of our group and he would often be the one to break the silences that we sometimes would fall into with a quip or joke.
He was also, it seemed, more successful with women than most of us. Having been married once, he left behind three children. And despite the failure of his first marriage and his ill health, this never seemed to stop Matt from looking for other relationships. Many of us give up on such things through self-stigma, but Matt, being who he was, never did, and at his funeral we learned from one girl that Matt had asked her out more times than any other bloke ever had.
Needless to say, Matt's passing will leave an unfillable hole in our group and will make our film all the more telling and poignant. Indeed, he was an integral and instrumental part in the making of the film, writing some parts of the voice-over and also narrating it in an extremely professional and moving way. In fact, at his funeral, we were told that Matt had been something of an actor at school, where he had appeared in plays.
Despite the misconceptions surrounding those with mental ill health, Matt, then, was a decent, funny, and indeed inspirational person, who challenged the stereotypes of mental illness just by being who he was. Here is a short quote from George Eliot, which I found to be fitting in memory of his passing-
" (His) finely touched spirit had still its fine issues, though they were not widely visible. (His) full nature, like that river of which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name on the earth. But the effect of (his) being on those around (him) was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived fauithfully a hidden life..."
By this I do not mean that Matt's existence will go unnoticed, just that in today's age where it doesn't seem that you are anybody unless you're in a paper, a magazine, or on TV, Matt was just a normal, decent person, who lived his life, as Eliot says, faithfully, and he will surely live on in the memories of those who liked and loved him.
At the Pathways Group we are going on to make another film about recovery from mental illness, and it will, without doubt, be dedicated to Matt.
Matthew John Aitken, 1972-2009. Rest in Peace.
That's all for now from your normal, average, delusional and paranoid man.


dcrelief said…
Dear David,
Surely you loved your friend. I wish you peace for the memories you hold in your heart.x
My respect,
klahanie said…
Dear David,
A poignant, glowing tribute to your friend. Within your articulate tribute, you have touched upon the theme that so many of passionately care about.
Like you, like Matthew, like so many of us, we know that our mental health concerns are only a portion of who we are. We are so much more than that.
Thank you for sharing your heartfelt thoughts on your friend.
With peace. respect and empathy, Gary.
David said…
Dear dc & Gary,
Thankyou for your respectful and heartfelt comments. I'm sure all who cared about Matt would appreciate them too.
In Peace and with much Respect to you both,
nessa said…
hello david,
i don't know, i can't quite tell from your post, i might have known him. am in a bit of shock. can you email me please.
The Manic Chef said…
Hi David, what a heartfelt memorial this is. Sorry to hear of the loss to you and others. I was wondering, this film you talk about, is it up playing on the internet, or Youtube? I'm interested in viewing this piece of work. Is it possible?
All the best to you, I truly enjoy your style of writing. Later....

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