The passing of a dear friend and brother

A couple of weeks ago, mon mari called me at work and asked if he could come see me. This kind of call usually heralds an impromptu lunch date, but from the tone of his voice, I knew it wasn’t one of those times. When I met him, M told me that our friend Josh had called him, and shared the news that another friend of ours, Matt, went out running the previous morning, and then had died. Since I met M over 10 years ago, I’ve seen him in tears less than 5 times, but he was weeping as he told me about Matt, his voice was full of grief.

Of all of our acquaintances, there are very few who have better exemplified the saying, “he has heart.” We met Matt and Jill during our first month in Kamloops at the church we had just started attending. We ended in up in the same small group and this introduction turned out to have a deep impact in our lives, because while we have a lot of friends – many of whom we share similar interests and pursuits (social, spiritual, physical, mental), there are a lesser number of people that truly stand out as those we want to emulate. People we want to emulate are usually older, or are celebrity writers or teachers or leaders, not so much people in our immediate social circles. But I can say with certainty that Matt is one of the people in real life that mon mari respected and admired, and who inspired in both of us – by his zest for life, by his genuine interest in people that shone through and through in his words and actions to both friends and strangers, and in his whole-hearted pursuit of his love for God and his Christian faith – the desire to pursue a sincerity and honesty in our own spiritual seeking and in our everyday choices and decisions.

During the first year of our life in Kamloops, we purchased a house that had a couple of wonky electrical switches. Matt volunteered his time and technical skills to help us out. I remember him in a beat-up blue workman’s suit crawling in between some narrow (and gross) spaces in our walls, only to emerge dusty and smudged a while later, declaring loudly with a bright grin that all should be in working order now.

To this day, every time we turn the switch on in our living room, we have light, made possible by Matt’s generosity. What a completely fitting and perfect metaphor for how Matt will be remembered.

From his obituary:

IN MEMORIUM

October 13, 1978 – May 26, 2015

Matt Vollans, age 36, of Kamloops, B.C. died suddenly on Tuesday, May 26th. He was a loving husband, to Jill, and father to his son Seth, and daughter Keziah. He also leaves behind his mother, father, Oma, brothers and sisters, as well as many family and friends.

Matt had a passion for life. He loved the outdoors and enjoyed challenging himself in mountain climbing, hiking, running, and many other sports. Matt was sensitive, loving, kind, loyal, and a dear friend to many. He always made everyone he met feel encouraged and valuable. One of his greatest joys was spending time with his family.

Above all, Matt lived his life to the glory of God and encouraged everyone else to do this to the fullest. His favourite bible verse was “Be imitators of God” and to this end he strove.

The funeral service will be held on Friday, June 5th, 2015 at 1:00 pm at Summit Drive Church, 1975 Summit Drive, Kamloops. Viewing from 12:00 to 12:30 pm. Should friends desire, donations to the New Life Mission would be appreciated in Matt’s memory.

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