Saturday, June 23, 2012. Today Matt would have been 21. I remember my 21st birthday. I was in college and my girl-friend baked me a cake. That was the first time anyone (other than my mother) had done something like that. It was a sentimental occasion. I'm sure Matt, in his short life, had many sentimental occasions. He was that kind of guy.
This is a very sentimental occasion for me , when I think of what might have been....
May God bless him and his mother. I hope they're looking down on us and see how much we miss them.
Today, September 10, 2011, would have been the 50th birthday of Matt's mom, Jill A. Cooke. I have posted several pictures of her life on her Facebook page.
The narrative at the bottom of this page (please scroll down) was found in Jill's papers, written in Jill's handwriting. I (her father) was an auditory witness to this event. I heard it happening upstairs, but when I went up to look in on her, she waved me off because I would have broken the spell. She later told me about it in detail, but I only recently found out that she had written it down. Some of you may find it hard to believe unless you are a "believer". I believe it. God be with you, Jill and Matt.
Thursday, June 23, 2011, today would have been Matt's 20th birthday. The big 2-0h. It's still so sad. I read wonderful stories on Facebook and elsewhere about all his friends. He had so many. I remember the day he was born, June 23, 1991. "23" - that was a number that Jill cherished. She used it in passwords, played lottery tickets with it, and even used it on her Twitter monicker "AngelWings 23". It's interesting that the author of the poem on the back of her memorial card called her a "bird held high on angel's wings".
Matt and Jill - both held high on angel's wings. God be with them, and with us all.
Thursday, July 15, 2010, Jill A. Cooke (Matt's mom) succumbed to grief and desperation, and took her own life.
Words cannot express our sorrow. She has fulfilled her wish to join her beloved son in heaven. May God have mercy on her soul.
These montages were assembled by Michael Shield's mom, Vicki. Click on a picture for an enlarged view.
Matt's Baptism by Monsignor Murray
Matt and Mommy
Matt with surfboard maker Jon LaLanne
Photo by Vincent Wandzura's dad, Steve
Photo by William Cooke (Matt's Uncle Wil)
The story begins: Friday, October 3, 2008, 23:19 hrs (11:19 p.m.) at the corner of Victory Blvd. and Glade Ave. in Woodland Hills, California. Click on any picture for an enlarged view
8 a.m. Saturday
2 p.m. Saturday
9 a.m. Sunday
9 p.m. Sunday
9 a.m. Tuesday
9 a.m. Tuesday
On Tuesday morning the management of the apartment building asked us to remove the memorial items because heavy equipment was being brought in to remove the tree and to repair the building and landscaping. We took everything home. All that was left was the concrete slab shown here, with the writing of his many friends.
9 p.m. Tuesday
But Matt's best friends wouldn't let it go away. They started the memorial all over again. Way to go, guys!
5 p.m. Thursday
10 a.m. Friday
One week after that awful night, the songs have ended, the ground is smooth again, but the memories linger on.
Messages from Friends (1)
Messages from Friends (2)
Click pic for
Click pics for
Messages from Friends (3)
for text clarity
Two headrests from Matt's car were found at the scene and used to send the message of love.
Saturday October 18, 2008. St. Bernardine of Sienna Catholic Church, Woodland Hills, California
We thank all Matt's friends for their kind support.
We all miss him greatly but know that he rests in God's hands.
God Bless you all.
If you have thoughts to share with us, please use our Contact Us page.
The following message was received from Harris Remy, March 24, 2010, through the "Contact Us" page, but was only recently found in Jill's possessions. We publish it now, with appreciation, and apologies for the delay.
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow;
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain;
I am the gentle autumn's rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there; I did not die.
Rarely a day goes by without my mind drifting to thoughts and memories of Matt. With a burdened heart I wish my sinful life could have been traded for his, as he was truly without a doubt the most kindhearted sweet young man I have ever met. Matt was the single most kindhearted loving individual I've encountered and he will never leave my heart or be forgotten. I'm not a religious person however I've prayed for nearly a year now, for Matt and you, his family who lost such a bright young man in this world of fading integrity and worth. He will never be forgotten or leave my heart, and not a day goes by without his being remembered.
I wish somehow there was a way to trade places as I long to give up my life so the glimmering hope I saw in Matt's could exist once more. It hurts me that with so many bad people in the world the only person I can say I feel was in all shapes and forms kindhearted and willing to sacrifice had to go. I know the hurt from his loss cannot be consoled but I do wish to say that it is amazing you raised such a kindhearted soul and his beautiful soul rests in heaven, for if such a place exists, without a doubt Matt belongs there. Rest In Peace.
Letter from Jon LaLanne (son of Jack LaLanne) 17 Feb 2011:
I always remember my day with Matt and Jill making his new surfboard.
I remember the days we lost them. They do not get to rest in peace like the contract said, because my father is now busting their chops up beyond the gates.
Matt.. no more cokes, burgers and french fries. Matt.. you now have to study and get straight A's.
Jill now has to do aerobics at 4 a.m. for 2 hours every week day morning.
Sorry Matt and Jill, we tried to keep my father down here as long as possible. We love and miss you all greatly.
Matt and Jill, if you're up there, please send a parrot my way from up above. I'll be waiting patiently down here.
On 25 April 2011, Vincent Wandzura wrote:
Matt was my little brother, I can't help but think about him and Jill daily. I just wanted to thank you for letting me be such a big part of Matts life. I've changed my perspective on life because of Matt, and he still is impacting the world in a positive way through those that truly knew who Matt was.
R.I.P. Little brother
On 23 June 2011, Lorraine Cataloiu wrote:
Happy 20th Birthday, Matt. Not a single day goes by without you crossing my mind. I miss you so much. I wish you could have been here with us celebrating your birthday, but no worries, we will reunite again one day. I love you!
August 7, 2011. The following letter from Lara Simion was found in Jill's effects today (exactly one year after her funeral). Jill was Lara's godmother and Lara is the grand-daughter of "Auntie" Laura, Jill's mother's best friend.
Matt: You were seriously like a brother to me. I didn't see you or your mother very often but every time we planned something, I was too excited and always looking forward to seeing you. You were literally the nicest kid I've ever met in my life. I remember when you and your mom, Jill, would randomly show up at my house with big bags of clothes for my brother Eric, and random gifts for me. I miss those random surprises more than any thing, and shopping and dinners. I miss it all soo much.
I have no idea why this had to happen to you, but I'm glad you're in a better place and don't have to suffer on earth any more. and I know you're watching over all of us. I just wish more than anything I had been able to spend more time with you and your family! You were an amazing kid with great potential. You had soo much going for you! I really don't understand why this happened, but I guess I should just accept this without comp- rehension. But being confused only makes it harder to struggle through.
I want you to know you're on my mind all the time, and you'll always be remembered and cherished . Even though I miss you like crazy I'll try my best to put a smile on my face because I know you'd want me to be happy. We all miss you and love you to no end. Rest in Peace forever.
Lara Raisa Simion
August 15, 2011: Another note found in Jill's effects, to Matt from M.S.
Matt: I never compare my friendship with you to that of Michael's or Cody's, but I wish I could. You were definitely one of the sweetest kids I had ever met. and just being here where your crash was, just reminds me of that time we were all at Michael's just so we could say good-bye to him before he moved. And I remember how timid you were at first because it was just the guys and then all of a sudden girls came into the room. You were truly hilarious and I wish we could have been good friends rather than acquaintances.
Your smile and personality were contagious and every time I talk to someone about memories with you, they can't help but smile when they look back on it. Everyone misses you so much and we will always remember you. Rest in Peace, Wonderbread. We love you.
P.S. Be sure to watch over Anna. She misses you so much that it's heart breaking.
Poem for Norm
A mother holds her newborn son,
counts tiny fingers, a new life has begun.
The son she adores is so close with his mom,
she will always treasure and respect their strong bond.
The years pass by, her heart has a warm glow,
and she realizes just how fast kids can grow.
The worst words a parent can ever possibly hear,
are heard by Jill, it is the greatest of fears.
Her world is shattered when she learns he is gone,
being the only child she had, their love was so strong.
Jill's whole world had stopped, but she bravely pressed on,
with a fragile heart she hid the pain of her lost son.
The days pass by so slowly as she mourned her great loss,
she wants her son with her no matter the cost.
She loves her dad dearly, but wanted at last,
to be with her gentle sweet young son (her Matt).
In heaven Matt sees his mom and asks "Why are you here?"
With shining eyes she hugs him and says, "To finish raising you my dear"
She's sorry she hurt her dad, that makes her heart move.
But says,"With open arms, we'll be waiting for you!"
Words from Jill:
On Monday, June 8, 2009, a miraculous event occurred. I had previously lost my only son, Matthew Corbiere in a car accident on October 3, 2008. He was only 17 and my only child. His car had swerved off the road and he hit a tree head on, killing him instantly, even before it burst into flames. I was devastated, as was my father and brother, and Matt’s dad and family, along with his many friends. For days they held a vigil at the accident site, with sometimes over 100 children and people there at one time, many spending all day there, lighting candles and bringing flowers and mementos. They wrote their feelings on poster boards. Matthew was loved by so many. He was a special boy; kind, caring and loving, so I was not surprised. The funeral was held on October 18, 2008. It was attended by over 300 people and was very nice in that it helped many get some understanding and closure. Having been raised a Catholic as my son was, I knew especially since he was a child, he would go to heaven with the Lord, Jesus Christ. After the funeral, the shock of his death set in and it was a sad time, but my faith in God kept me going because there are no accidents and everything happens for a reason.
Unfortunately, his death took a toll on his father, Yvon Corbiere. We had been divorced from each other since Matt was two, but he was a good father, until the year of 2008, when he married for a third time and our son and he became somewhat estranged. He had moved to Hawaii, though nobody knew this in the summer of 2008. He did not show up at the funeral, which surprised me, but Saree, his second wife, who is a friend of mine, had suggested he was too overcome with grief. Yvon and I talked a few times on the phone after the funeral, but he never indicated how severely depressed he was.
In November 2008, around Thanksgiving, he committed suicide. That is when we found out he was in Hawaii. The following months have been difficult coping with the sadness, especially during holidays, but with the support of family and friends and my faith, I managed to get by. We also decided to sell my dad’s house, where I was living and my son had been as well. It was too big for the two of us and the move had kept us busy.
I often dreamt of Matt, but one time about a month after his death, I actually saw him in a dream as if he was alive, only his hair was growing to a degree. He walked into my room and asked if I had any money, which he often did in life. He said he was going out and would be right back. I answered that the car was not here and he looked surprised. I said it had been in an accident. Then a look of worry overcame him and he realized it was true. He said they were chasing him and he was scared, but he looked both ways before crossing Topanga and the last thing he remembered was yelling “mom”. That woke me up and he was gone.
Moving ahead to the weekend of June 5th, 2009, I became ill with an infection and had to enter the hospital. I had an extremely bad reaction to the antibiotic, but was given Benadryl to clear it up, which it did. I was very sick for two days. I was released on Sunday June 7. I was feeling much better on Monday and before I went to bed that night I decided to clean my bird cage upstairs, so I got newspaper and the vacuum and proceeded to do so.
All of a sudden I thought I heard words coming from the sound of the vacuum. I was vacuuming metal bars, so I thought maybe they were resonating. Then the unmistakable voice of my son Matthew came through. I thought I must be hearing things and kept vacuuming. At first it was faint and then grew louder. He started saying “I love you mommy. I miss you mommy”, and kept repeating it a few times until I asked “Matt?” Then the volume rose. He said “mommy, I love you so much, I miss you so much”, and he sounded so sad, but it was his voice. Then in tears, he said “please don’t die”. I realized he had seen me in the hospital. “I am so sorry about daddy. I wished he didn’t do that. It’s my fault, I feel bad.” I said it was not. “Please mommy do not die, please live.” I promised I would.
Then I really started listening and stopped cleaning, but kept the vacuum running as the sound was coming from the end of the nozzle. He was crying and said “Mommy, I just want to go home. I’m so sorry for what happened. I was driving too fast, I’m so sorry.” I said “It’s not your fault. Do not be sorry, it’s okay.” I was trying to comfort my beloved son that I could only hear and not see and I knew he was in great distress. I said, “Where are you? Aren’t you in heaven which is your home?” He cried and said “Mommy, I want to go home. I want to be with you. I love you mommy.” And he repeated this many times. It sounded just like him and it was very clear. I asked him if he had seen Jesus. “Where was Jesus, the Lord?” He said he was not there and cried. He said he was in a terrible dark place and he hated it and he wanted to go home. He said he hated the counselors that were with him and he wanted to go home. I started getting scared, for a second thinking he was in hell and then I thought that’s ridiculous. Then I remember Jesus is God and believe it and say it. And he was crying and saying he wasn’t there. I asked about his dad and he said he had not seen him because he was in a different place. He was so sorry and sad about this. I said he would see him again someday. I said “Matthew, why are you not in heaven?” I said “call out to Jesus.” I kept repeating “Jesus Christ is Lord. God is everything. Believe in Jesus, Matt, I know you do.”
Suddenly I heard mumbling, other voices and I got scared because I thought they were the one my son was worried about. Matt kept crying and he said he wanted to go home “Mommy, I love so much.” Then I heard the other voices say my name Jill, which caught my attention and I heard them mention he was stuck. But Matt was talking and crying over them so loud it was hard to understand them. He was quite hysterical and he said he missed me so much and I said he was always in my heart and I loved and missed him so much, but he had to remember his home was heaven and told him to call out to Jesus. The others got louder then and said “Jill, keep talking to him and telling him these things,” so I did, but he was talking above all of us and he cried how he missed his friends and he wanted to see them and he couldn’t understand why he was there. He said he loved Anna and she is so beautiful and he wanted to live with her. I said Anna loved him, and his friends missed him and he kept crying that he wanted to go home, “Mommy I want to go home” again and again. I said his home is in heaven now.
Suddenly I could feel two other presences around Matthew and they began clearly talking to me and they said “Jill, we need your help. You have to let him go” and I said I thought I had, but they said “he is holding on to you because he is so worried, but we see you are doing well now and only you can make him understand this.” The one on his right spoke more than the other one. They were very kind, but they knew something needed to be done and so did I. In the meantime, Matt is still crying and talking, and he apologizes to me for crying and I said “Don’t be silly, its okay I love you.” Then I asked the angels what I could do. They said “He will not go to the light because he is afraid.” He was pointing to the light and Matthew said “No I’m not going there” and he cried. They said “Jill, we need you to help us get him to the light. You are the only one who can. This is no place to stay. He is afraid and will not listen to us. He is lying on the ground and will not get up.” So I kneeled down and I said “Matthew, do you see the light?” and he cried “Yes” and he would not go near it. I said “that is where Jesus Christ is, that is why you do not see him here. You are not in heaven yet. The light leads to heaven. Say Jesus Christ is Lord” and then he calmed down a bit and I kept talking to him and I said “I love you so much Matt and if you ever trusted me, you have to trust me now! You have to go see Jesus. That is your home now. I will always be here for you but you must go to the light.” I heard the angels encouraging me to keep talking and encouraging him. They were doing so also. I said “Let’s walk to the light together. Please get up.” The angels said he was. I kept talking and Matt was saying he did not want to go to the light. I said “The light is Jesus and let’s walk one step at a time towards the light.” So we did. I would say” It’s okay, take one step closer.” I kept repeating this, “Say, Jesus is waiting.”
Matt was saying he loved me and I said I loved him but he had to go to the light. The angels were talking to me at the same time. They told me it has been difficult, but I was a woman with a great faith in God and they knew I could help Matt. They said I would be very prosperous in my life and live a long life, which was nice to hear during this incredible moment. They were very thoughtful and knew Matthew was a great boy that was lost and confused about where he was and I could help him find his way. I then realized I no longer sensed the room around me, but swirling pink colour, like an array all around me.
I then noticed the full moon in the window. I always call the moon, The Lamp of the Lady, named after the Blessed Virgin Mary. Matt knew this too. It was shining brightly and that became the light I was marching towards. We were getting close the angels said, as we continued saying “Just one more step.” Then he said “No” and they said he stepped backwards. I said “Matthew, I promise I will always be with you in your heart, I will always love you, but you must go to the light.” The angels were talking all along encouraging me, saying I was doing excellently with Matt and he started moving forward.
Then the angels said “We are at the light” and I said to Matt, “Let’s take that step” and we did and the angels said “We were walking through the light.” Suddenly, a tremendous uproar of applause could be heard all around and they were playing Welcome to the Newborn King and it sounded beautiful. The applause continued and then I heard my son and he said in a calm voice full of amazement “Mommy, this is beautiful” and the angel said to Matt, “Now you can pray for your mom.”
They were on their way to see Jesus. We talked while we walked. I thanked them both for helping my son get to heaven and they said “No, thank you because it was you who brought him here.” I said he is home now with Jesus and then Matt said “This is wonderful” and he said “mommy there is a beautiful white building ahead steps leading up to it.” The angels said that is where he would find Jesus. I could tell my son was in awe because he was not saying much. All the time the applause and music continued. My son said “Mommy I am so happy.” I said “You are going to be okay. Jesus and Blessed Virgin Mary will take care of you.” He said “We are starting to walk the steps” and I said “I should go because it was not my place to see the Lord yet.” I said “I must go now Matt.” I said “Bye” and I knew he was going to be okay. “Thank you,” I said to them, then I shut off the vacuum. The room returned and it was silent. I went to tell my father I had just walked my son into heaven, and he was home. This lasted 30 minutes.
I thought that would be all, that was amazing enough but I was down in the kitchen and glanced out the window about 30 minutes later at the moon and I heard the applause and singing begin again and then I noticed the face of the Blessed Virgin on the moon surrounded by a blue veil and she was singing too. Then I heard the same angel I was talking to mostly and he announced to the crowd, “Please welcome Matthew Corbiere, who, thanks to his mother, Jill, who brought him here, has seen the Lord Jesus Christ, the creator of the cosmos the maker of heaven and earth and is home and he is free. He is free!”
On July 15, 2010 Jill went to join her son in Heaven. God be with them.
July 15, 2012, the second anniversary of Jill's journey into Heaven.
If lilies grow in Heaven, Lord,
please pick a bunch for me.
Place them in my daughter's arms
and tell her they're from me.
Tell her that I miss her
and when she turns to smile,
place a kiss upon her cheek
and hold her for awhile.
Remembering her is easy, Lord,
I do it every day,
but there's an ache within my heart
that will never go away.