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Golden#039;s fight comes to an end

One of this area's youngest and bravest warriors lost his battle for life this week. Greenville's Matthew Thomas Golden, age six, died on Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 22, at Children's Hospital in Birmingham.

"After fighting long and hard, his little body finally gave out…in his final moments here on earth, he did not suffer. He went to be with our Lord very peacefully," his mother Vicki said, in a posting on the Golden website, www.prayformatthew.com.

Matthew, who was the middle son of Jerry and Vicki Golden's three sons, is recalled by friends and family as the kid "with the bluest eyes and most incredible smile".

"All my boys are amazing and they are all gifted…but Matthew had a special gift for giving love…and we are truly going to miss that," says his mom.

Matthew's funeral is scheduled for 3 p.m. today at Southside Baptist Church with an open visitation from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. for friends and family. Graveside services will follow at Myrtle Wood in Fort Deposit.

'The end of the battle'

The little boy's passing brought to an end the Golden family's nine-month-long fight for the child's recovery following critical brain injuries Matthew received in an automobile accident in December 2003.

It was often a touch-and-go situation for the little boy, who underwent eight surgeries (including five cranial procedures) and numerous long hospitalizations in the months following his accident.

Frequent and sometimes violent neuro-storming episodes, in which massive dumpings of the hormones responsible for the "fight or flight" response caused Matthew's blood pressure, heart rate and temperature to soar, had been one of the greatest concerns of both family and physicians over the last six months.

However, drug therapy had improved Matthew's condition to the point where he was able to go as long as two weeks between such episodes, said his parents.

In recent weeks, Matthew had shown many signs of improvement, making forward strides in his physical and occupational therapies along with his new experimental glyconutrient therapies.

Jerry and Vicki noted every positive sign -a smile, a gesture, Matthew holding his head up longer than usual – with delight and pride. The couple regularly posted messages for their "Prayer Army" concerning both Matthew's progress and his setbacks on the Internet website.

"We really, really appreciated everyone's prayers for our son… please don't stop now he's gone, we still need them."

'He tugged at your heartstrings'

Matthew's tenacity and determination in the face of such an uphill battle remained a constant source of encouragement and inspiration for his family.

His mother recalls a loving little boy "who could tug at your heartstrings like no other child could…[he could] also be incredibly stubborn and obstinate, but that is what allowed him to live nine more months than he probably should have."

The story of Matthew's battle to survive and to recover affected many beyond his immediate circle of family, friends and caregivers.

Many who had never met the Goldens followed the family's emotional roller coaster ride via the website.

Over the months since his accident, thousands of well wishers from all over the world posted words of support and encouragement on the Matthew Golden website message board, and numerous condolences have made their way to the board since Matthew's death.

'Making with the Lord's help'

Many of those who followed Matthew's story expressed in their messages how they had been inspired by the testimony of one little boy's valiant fight against the odds.

They were also amazed at how God can use ordinary people, who are willing to be used, to do extraordinary things in other's lives.

The days and weeks ahead will no doubt be difficult for the Golden family as they face the void left by the loss of their son.

"I don't think you are ever prepared to bury a child…you just do what you have to do and get through it the best you can…you make it with the good Lord's help and the support of others," Vicki said in her latest website posting.

The Goldens still trust in the power of prayer. Everyday and night they their prayer warriors sought a complete healing for their little boy.

Jerry and Vicki and all those who loved the child dreamed of the day Matthew would be whole and strong, able once again to run, jump and laugh.

They will tell you Matthew is now free of all the pain and confusion. He is healed and whole again.

It's just going to take a while for Goldens to all be together again.

"God always answers our prayers – just not always on our time table or by our plans. We will certainly miss that fellow," Vicki Golden says.

They will treasure the good memories this short life that will long be remembered will leave behind.