March 12, 2004 started off like any normal Friday during spring break but, it certainly didn’t end that way! It was a day that claimed many names; They day McKinney lost it’s innocence, The Truett Street Murders and The Quadruple Murders, a day that made national news.
I still remember hearing about it for the first time like it was yesterday. Saturday morning March 13, 2004, My mother burst into my room waking me up very early, yelling there has been a murder. Nothing can wake up a teenager like the word murder, I sat up and asked her to repeat herself hoping I had heard wrong. She proceeded to tell me there had been a murder and than Matthew Self, Mark and Rosa Barbosa and Austin York had been shot execution style late the night before. My heart froze but my body went into hyper mode. I had to hear it for myself, so I jumped out of bed and ran to the nearest TV. Sure enough it was true, I wasn’t dreaming and I didn’t hear things incorrectly. Matthew, Austin, Mark and Rosa had been shot and the only survivor at that moment was Matthew. I just broke down, I could not hold in the tears and I prayed as I sat there glued to the TV. I prayed hoping for a miracle, “Please God, let Matt survive this.” It didn’t take long until the news reported that Matt didn’t make it. I was crushed. I grew up with Matt and have known him since kindergarten so I just couldn’t wrap my mind around why someone would take his life so cruelly.
Returning to School that Monday was also a day I will never forget. The hallways that were normally filled with laughter and friends talking were now filled with the emptiness and loss of Matt and Austin. There were friends, teachers, counselors, and youth ministers all crying and comforting each other, there was hardly a dry eye to be found.
In the midst of all of this tragedy and suffering was beauty. Love was all around, there was no racism, no hurtful words being said, no difference in cliques and social groups. Friends and families were saying I love you more, the whole town became a community of people that showed support for each other. It was beautiful! It was beautiful to see people setting aside their differences for the purpose of helping each other cope with this tragedy. It was beautiful to see an outpouring of people giving their time, money, and prayers to help the families cope. It was beautiful to see that people were and are capable of loving and showing compassion for each other, even those who are different.
While our hearts were hurting, many of us learned an important lesson that day. We learned that life doesn’t last forever and tomorrow isn’t promised, even to the youngest of us. We learned that we should take every opportunity to tell those we love how we feel before it’s to late.
We continue to remember Matt, Austin, Mark and Rosa today and we honor their memory by keeping those lessons close to our hearts and by sharing our memories of them.
I will never forget cheering for Matt and Austin as they played football or always searching for Matt after the game while the football team gathered around as we played the school song. I will never forget swinging on the swings with Matt in elementary school or him assuring me that the weather wont get as bad as rumored. I won’t forget the way he made me feel when he took a second to say hi to me while we were with our different cliques. Matt was a great person and so was, Austin, Mark and Rosa. Pray today for their families and show them the same love they felt 10 years ago.
Gone but Never Forgotten! #34 #38