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Sunday, February 5, 2023
A mother’s lament: ‘Grief is only a word until you live it’
Vehicles on Lakeshore Road pass by the memorial erected by Matthew Wilson's family at the spot where he died, about 200 metres east of Tina's fruit market. Kevin MacLean

Colleen Franz, the mother of Matthew Wilson, wrote a deeply emotional victim impact statement, more than 50 pages long.

Because Robert Enns was not in court to hear the verdict against him in the crash that killed her son, Franz did not read her statement to the court.

Wilson was walking home along Lakeshore Road the night of April 4, 2021, when he was fatally struck by a pickup truck driven by Enns.

Franz shared her statement with The Lake Report and parts of it are excerpted here.

“My son’s death is the most heart-wrenching, chest-crushing, breath-stealing tragedy I have ever gone through. There are days I wanted to die. I cry at night. I cry in the day,” Franz wrote.

“I wear a smile in front of others, a smile to hide my incessant suffering as my soul silently screams in secret.”

“My life will never go back to what it once was. I will never be the same person I once was. A part of me died when Matt died.”

“There are no words that will ever describe the pain, the sorrow, the despair that I and Matt’s family have felt and will continue to suffer for the rest of our lives.”

“Matt was not perfect. Matt made mistakes in his teenage years, filled with tears and defeats, but through his tremendous perseverance, immense self-discipline he thankfully saw many victories when he set about to correct all his mistakes.”

An honour roll student, her son played tennis, soccer, baseball, golf and lacrosse, “but his true passion was hockey.”

He also helped his older brother Kirk in coaching atom house league hockey teams in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

“I was elated to see my two sons out on the rink working together teaching young kids to skate, learn the game of hockey while instilling the kids with good sportsmanship,” she wrote.

“Matt loved music. He played the piano, the guitar and had a beautiful singing voice.” He and Kirk spent hours composing songs, singing, playing their guitars and keyboards.

“As their mother, it was rewarding to see my two sons spending time together not only as brothers, but as best friends.”

“I loved Matt’s infectious passion for life, his enthusiasm to get involved, his kind heart, his gentle ways and his positive optimistic attitude.”

Her son loved to travel and taught himself to speak Mandarin because he hoped to travel to the Far East some day. Two of his cousins were born in Hong Kong.

“Sadly, Matt’s dreams of future travelling will never reach fruition.”

She says she often witnessed acts of kindness by her son.

“When Matt thought I wasn’t watching, I saw him reach out to help a friend who was struggling. I knew Matt learned that we all have to take care of each other and to make the best of what we are given.”

“When Matt thought I wasn’t watching, I saw him gladly give his brand new winter coat to a stranger who didn’t have a coat. I saw Matt take the shoes off his own feet and give them to a man who had no shoes.”

“When Matt saw a man with no shirt, he literally gave away the shirt off his back plus many of his sweatshirts, hoodies etc. Matt always said he had another shirt and more shoes at home and this man didn’t have any.”

The death of her son defines her life now.

“I didn’t just lose my son once on April 4, 2021. I lose Matt over and over.”

“I lose Matt every morning when I open my eyes to a new day. I lose Matt many times every day when fierce waves of grief jolt through me like a bolt of lightning that rips into my heart reminding me Matt is gone, dead, forever and for always.”

“A person that loses her husband is called a widow.  A person that loses a parent is called an orphan. There is no word to describe a parent, a mother who loses a child, because that is a loss like no other.”

“I am hesitant to talk about Matt as some people think I should be over it by now and tell me I must move on. ‘Move on where?’ is what I ask. Move to the left where nothing will ever be right again or move to the right where nothing is left because my son is dead?”

“Grief is only a word until you live it, feel it. No one can understand it until it happens to them.”

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