Virginia Wiedower, one of Matthew Freeman’s sisters, answers some questions about her brother and the charity that was established in his honor after his death:
Q. Tell me one of your favorite memories with your brother.
This is a question I don’t really like to answer. I am not ready to share my memories of him yet. I love hearing other people’s memories of him, but my memories with my brother are limited and slowly fading. Once I share them, they won’t be mine anymore, and it kind of feels like I’m giving away my relationship.
Q. What would you consider his greatest achievement in life?
His greatest achievements would be being a big brother and being a Marine. He loved being a big brother and would sometimes let my sister and I hang out with his friends, or he would bring us to a movie with his girlfriend. He gave great advice and truly loved hanging out with us. He loved our country, its history and what it stands for. Being a Marine was something he truly believed in and took great pride in.
Matthew’s greatest achievement would be being a Marine and being a big brother. He told me once that he was a Marine so he could fight for his friends, my sister and I, my mom and dad, and for his wife.
Q. What advice can you give to other people also coping with the loss of a brother or sister?
The best advice I could give someone in this situation is that the black hole will end. It seems like there is no end in sight when it comes to the pain and mourning, but there will be a time when you can smile and laugh again. I remember it seemed like joy was an emotion I would never experience again.
Q. What has been most inspiring about the Sibling Scholarship?
The most inspiring thing about the Sibling Scholarship is all the stories we get to hear. I know I love to talk about my brother because it makes him feel “alive” to me. We get to help these siblings to share their stories with someone who wants to hear them, whether they win the scholarship or not. We all want an excuse to talk about the sibling we lost.
Q. How can people better help/support young people who have lost a sibling?
The best way you can help someone who has lost a sibling or anyone is to simply be there for them and let them talk. I got married eight months after my brother was killed and it drove me nuts when people would say, “Oh, he’ll be at your wedding in spirit.” I didn’t want my brother’s spirit at my wedding, I wanted to dance with my big brother! The people that helped the most were those who held my hand or let me cry on their shoulders and would simply say, “I’m so sorry,” and, “That sucks.”
Q. What do you want people to remember most about your brother?
The thing I want people to remember most about my brother is his smile and his laugh. He had the most genuine smile and I can still picture his face when he would laugh. He just made everyone feel welcome and like they were a friend. I am so lucky to have had him for a brother.