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Statement read to the court Friday by De

October 31, 1997

Statement read to the court Friday by Deborah Eappen, mother of 8-month-old Matthew, before the judge imposed a life sentence on au pair Louise Woodward for the baby’s death.

On May 24, 1996, we gave birth to a healthy baby boy. We named him Matthew, a gift from God. Matthew was a beautiful baby with black, silky hair and rich chocolate eyes. He was a real butterball. He was so content. He made his needs known, and when they were met he was happy again, a real smiling baby.

He was the object of great affection by his 2-year-old brother, Brendan, who proudly announced, ``Brendan makes baby Matthew feel better,″ as he gave Matty a toy, blanket or a kiss.

And Brendan watched out for Matty’s safety. ``I don’t want you to get hurt, Matthew, because I love you.″

And Brendan woke up in the morning and said, ``Is baby Matthew awake?″ He peered into his crib and excitedly announced, ``Baby Matthew’s awake. Good morning baby Matthew. I love you.″

And I vividly remember having two boys, one on each leg in my lap. Brendan would say, ``Let’s do two boys, Mom.″

And I loved Matty’s weight on my arms, his head on my shoulder, his soft breath tickling my neck and his gentle hand caressing my chin. And I loved to snuggle and get cozy with my two boys.

In December of ’96 I wrote to Matthew on a card that showed a mom and her kids on a sunny day in the Boston Garden near the duckling parade. Matthew was 5 months old, and I wrote, ``You were really a joy, never fussy. Always sweet and easy to comfort. You could tell your personality would become laid back. You were confident your needs will be met.″

I wrote how loving and protecting Brendan was, how Dad adores you and how Matty laughs a great laugh. Your wonderful calm spirit is one that melts my heart. I want you to know, Matthew, how special you are to us, even at this young age.

At Christmas I gave Matthew a book called ``Brothers and Sisters″ and inscribed it with: ``You have added so much joy to our family. Dad and I cannot get enough of your smiles and giggles. You are so amusing to each other, we can feel your love as brothers is strong already. We are so lucky and so proud of you. You are my sunshine, Matthew.″

And we loved this little bundle of joy. Our chunk-a-munk.

We felt that life was good, that things had fallen into place after medical school and residency and after getting settled at our new jobs. Only one week before February 4th, Sunny and I were talking and saying, ``God, we are so blessed.″ And we dreamed of Matty’s future and of Matty and Brendan together, playing ball and rough-housing.

And to wiry little Brendan we would joke, ``You better be nice to your brother. He’s going to be a lot bigger than you.″

They were so beautifully different, like Tigger and Winnie-the-Pooh. We felt happy and secure. We loved our family and wouldn’t change a thing.

But on February 4th, 1997, all our hopes and dreams were torn apart. Our Matty had been hurt. We soon learned our baby Matthew was dying. We couldn’t believe it. It was all inconceivable, and it was beyond us to comprehend that our Matty was dying because someone we trusted had hurt him.

We couldn’t give up hope. We wished for a miracle. We would love Matty anyway. He didn’t need to be perfect. Could he survive with maybe half a brain?

But repeat tests and CAT scans showed there was nothing to save. The whole brain was destroyed. There would be no life for Matty. On February 9th, we made the most painful decision in our lives. We had to let Matty go, be free of this life’s pain.

Matty died in our arms, surrounded by family, including his loving, 2 1/2-year-old brother, Brendan. Despite his tubes and IVs and surgical dressing covering his head, he looked to me like a little prince.

Since that day our lives are completely altered. Our hearts are heavy every day with the most excruciating pain.

How can we make sense of any of this? How can we go on? Can we be happy again?

I get flashbacks of what I envision happened to my innocent, defenseless, baby Matthew. I am sickened to think he was crying for help but was instead beaten by hands that were supposed to have been caring for him.

She didn’t look scary to me. She didn’t seem like a child abuser, or a monster or a murderer. We had no idea that she would harm our kids.

I’m scared now when I hear an ambulance. I have nightmares. I’m afraid to answer the phone or door. We are not safe.

The unthinkable has happened, and now anything can happen. My functions about life are now my goals: that my children will be safe; my marriage intact; and our lives, one day, happy again.

I cannot end without speaking for Brendan, who’s so upset by someone he cared for. He has so many questions. ``How come baby Matthew died? What is death? Where is heaven? I want baby Matthew back. I’ve got Matthew, here he is!,″ as he cups his hands to pretend that Matthew is with us.

He looks up to the stars to say goodnight to Matty. ``I love you. How was it up in heaven today?″

Even this morning Brendan said, ``I hope Matthew liked those balloons we sent to him,″ reminding me of the helium balloons we set free on Matthew’s birthday.

He asks questions. ``Why did Louise hurt Matty? Why did Louise hit Matty’s head on something hard?″

And he cries. And I have no answers.

These questions haunt us forever: How? What exactly happened? How long did Matty suffer? Why?

Every day we are faced with the challenge, how to go on living without Matthew. I am so grateful to those who helped and supported us. And I’m so sorry now for all the pain that everyone involved has suffered.

And I am hopeful that someday we will find peace.