Children are God’s gift to us, and when it is our time to have one, we can’t help but feel overjoyed. When it happens, our world is changed forever for the better once they arrive, and we are so thankful to have them in our lives.
Two parents experienced this joy of having their son, however, were sadly only given a limited amount of time with him.
On September 23, 1988, God sent a very special bundle of joy to Ernest and Anneke Robison. He sent a boy, to whom they named Matthew Stanford Robison. On that special day, Ernest and Anneke were beyond overwhelmed with joy and happiness. They had a son, who God delivered especially for them. They couldn’t be more happy and grateful.
With their joy came the hard news they weren’t expecting–that Matthew was born with disabilities. Due to a lack of oxygen during the pregnancy, he was born blind, and from the neck down, paralyzed. With the great news of the birth of their son, also came devastation, as the doctors told Ernest and Anneke that Matthew would probably only live for a few hours, due to his condition. But God had other plans…
What the doctors said to Ernest and Anneke were just words to them, as they knew there was a higher power than a doctor–God. They listened to what the doctors said, but decided to keep their faith in God. In the end, He blessed them with ten and a half wonderful years they were able to spend with their loving son Matthew. Going peacefully, Matthew passed away in his sleep.
The church that coordinated his funeral was packed to the max. It broke everyone’s hearts that he was no longer here anymore, but reminded everyone of the joy they had from just being able to meet Matthew. He never let his disabilities keep him down, and if anything, he reminded others that they should never let anything keep them down in life either.
Matthew’s obituary read:
“And then it shall come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.”
With heavy hearts, it came time for Ernest and Anneke to bury Matthew. Instead of going the traditional route of having a standard gravestone on Matthew’s grave, Ernest had other plans in mind…
Although Matthew’s parents were grieving, that didn’t mean they wanted his gravestone to be sad and gloomy. Matthew brought them so much joy and happiness, that they wanted to honor him by making his gravestone a reflection of the bubbly personality he had while he was alive.
Matthew was buried at Salt Lake City cemetery, and that is where Ernest decided to make the most out of Matthew’s plot space to honor his beloved son. He left the base of the gravestone with a traditional inscription, but wanted to add something unique on top of the grave to be noticeable to all who walked by. The new addition, a sculpture, was of a boy rising from his wheelchair and reaching up to the sky–as now Matthew is finally free from his disability.
What Ernest did for his son Matthew was so touching, that millions of people have visited Matthew’s grave since Ernest put it up. Not only does the sculpture represent Matthew’s new happiness that he no longer has his disabilities, but it also does something even more spectacular than just that. It gives comfort to other families who have lost loved ones with disabilities–reminding them that it is sad that they are gone, but realize that they are now free from their disability like Matthew is.
Enjoy Utah!, a blog organization that showcases everything Utah related, shared their initial reaction when they came across Matthew’s grave:
“One day while driving around doing research at the Salt Lake City Cemetery, I spotted this beautiful headstone and memorial. It immediately brought tears to my eyes, and continues to every time I visit it. Never before had I come across such a touching statue that tells so much just at first glance.”
Wanting to do more to honor their son, Ernest and Anneke started their own charity, calledAbility Found. Their charity provides assistive equipment for others who are living with disabilities. A lot of times children and adults who are suffering from disabilities cannot get access, nor can they afford the equipment they need to assist them with everyday activities. So Ernest and Anneke’s charity helps out with this issue.
Ernest and Anneke have turned the tragedy of losing their beloved son into a charity for helping others who suffer from similar conditions like the one Matthew did. There’s no doubt that Matthew is looking down at his parents from above, smiling, because of how proud he is of them.
Watch this video to learn more about Ability Found.
Sadly, a tragedy will happen to us all at some point. There are two ways to handle the situation when it does–in a negative and destructive way, or in a positive way like Ernest and Anneke did, by helping others and making a positive difference in the world. Which way will you take when it happens to you?