Note from Kristen:
Recently, I found a post that Matt started writing in August. There was a section that focused on a medical update to share with everyone. It talked about changes to his vision and balance, upcoming tests and possible next steps in treatment. He makes it clear that he was ready to defy the odds heading into what turned out to be his last round of treatments. That medical stuff got covered in a different post, so I've decided not to publish that part, but wanted to share the first part of it - Matt's reflection on heroes.
I've helped out with technical support and editing, I've added my perspective here and there, I've taken over the narrative at certain points when Matt was unable to post updates, but this is Matt's blog. As such, I wanted him to have the last word.
I’ve always loved comic books and superheroes. When I was a kid, I loved them primarily for how they looked and for what they could do - spinning webs any size, popping claws out of their hands, strength, speed, teleportation, flying... However, when teaching Grade 12 English about ten years ago I came across Bruce Meyer’s Heroes, an excellent read that proved indispensable in framing the course. Therein, the author offers that we love heroes for they “are an image of ourselves and allow us to understand who we are or, in some cases, what we aspire to be". In presenting us with models that point us to who we think we must become, there exists an undeniable connection as many heroes are “just human”.
As a kid, Batman looked awesome, had cool stuff AND a sweet hideout. As an adult you see beyond this and notice flaws such as a penchant for violence. Some would add an obsession with vengeance and justice. As a principled person, I get that, but let’s put the violence and vengeance aside and reframe this as resilience. That’s what resonates with me. I find that I've grown to love and identify with other characters who exhibit this same trait. When it comes down to it, I guess this includes most heroes.
There are, however, some who really speak to me, the first of which is the Incredible Hulk. His strength comes from his rage and the more you bombard him with shit, the stronger he gets. I always thought it was funny that someone thought a nuclear missile would take The Hulk out. It did not, because, hey, he’s the Hulk and he did get his powers from radiation.
I’m no Hulk but I did get the shit kicked out of me six months ago: Brain tumour? Have some meningitis. Oh yeah, here’s a rare condition that will confuse the hell out of you and lead to organ damage/failure on multiple fronts. Got that sorted out? Here’s Covid and a bladder infection for good measure. By God’s grace I’m still here because, you know, WE kill giants. Not sure I’m stronger, but I'm working on it. I sure was pissed off though. Happy to be here, beer in hand, reflecting on things.
As I’ve gotten older, my love of heroes hasn’t changed. Like I did when I waited for the weekly comic book releases at 12 and 13, I still look forward to every Marvel or DC film with anticipation and excitement. My favorite hero in the last few years has been The Green Lantern. Looks cool, and is able to possess weapons and abilities simply by harnessing willpower.
I look at all three of these figures - Batman, The Hulk and The Green Lantern - and realize they resonate with me because we’re not so different from one another. Whether it’s resilience, stubbornness, pure, blinding rage, willpower or faith, there’s something propelling us forward. You know we can't, we won't and we don't stop.