Matthew David Adler
Matthew David Adler was born on June 15, 1970 in Philadelphia and weighed in at 8 pounds and 21 ½ long, the son of Phyllis and Gary Adler.
One of the things Matt loved to do as a little boy was drive, whether a toy car or making believe behind the wheel of his father's car.
Birthdays and Hanukkah were always fun events. Birthday parties revolved around golf, softball and so on. He loved superheroes and dressed up as them. He had a superhero cake on his sixth birthday.
Early on, Matt thought about becoming a fireman, a policeman, or a doctor. But by the time he was 12 he informed his parents that he would be an attorney when he grew up.
As a boy, Matt and his brother Marc played baseball, went ice skating and skiing, and even played golf together with their little sets of golf clubs. But most of all, they laughed together. They also joined Cub Scouts and later Boys scouts and Matt enjoyed playing by the rules and earning badges.
Growing up, besides going to summer camp where he learned to swim and play tennis, he enjoyed many family vacations involving hiking and camping and enjoyed trips to Canada, Florida, and hiking the Appalachian Trail.
On June 18 at the age of 13, family and friends gathered in celebration of Matt's Bar Mitzvah. Matt was a great student attending Solomon Schechter Day School, the Akiba Hebrew Academy graduating in 1988. There he met his best and lifelong friends Will Augenbraun and Aaron Krause.
In 1992, Matt graduated from the University of Michigan. He made his parents, Gary and Phyllis, very proud on May 21, 1995 when he received his Law Degree from Cornell University….the same school where he met Jennifer Stuber as an undergraduate in 1993.
When Matt first met Jenn he was immediately taken by her, but it was up to Jenn to do the initiating as far as dating was concerned. Long story short, the next twelve years were years of living together and living apart. First, in different cities and states, and then in different countries!
While Matt was still in law school Jenn moved to Westchester County NY, and upon graduation Matt moved to New York City for his first job with a law firm….not too far away. While the Big Apple had a lot to offer, Matt was not happy living in NYC. The distance grew greater when Matt was transferred to DC and Jenn pursued her doctoral studies at Yale University in New Haven, Ct.
Jenn visited Matt often in DC. While in DC, Matt became a big brother to a young man through Big Brothers/Big Sisters. His name was Brian and the three of them did lots of fun things together.
The next move, Matt transferred to Hong Kong, where he got the experience of living abroad with a very exciting career opportunity, while Jenn moved to New York City after graduating from Yale where she lived for four years again apart from Matt. Matt loved Hong Kong (it was his favorite city), but it was in Beijing that he acquired the knowledge and experience that served him so well for the remainder of his years in the practice of law. Asia Info was Matt's longest standing client. He thought of them as family.
It is nothing short of a miracle that despite numerous separations, both physical and emotional, their love for each other survived. Matt and Jenn reconnected for good in 2001 when Matt reached out to provide Jenn solace following 9/11. Jenn was living in New York City at the time just a few miles from the World Trade Center.
Over the years, New Year's Eves were spent together in Times Square, Vermont, Utah, Miami, San Juan, Philadelphia and Saigon. There were also trips to St. Martin, Margate, the Costa del Sol, Bali and Sardinia. Matt and Jenn enjoyed skip trips to Alaska, Utah, New Mexico, and Vermont.
Jenn and Matt spent a lot of time together in Beijing, taking long weekend trips to Hong Kong, Shanghai, Hang zhou, Dalian and Xian. On Jenn's many visits to Beijing, they enjoyed long conversations about Chinese culture and took golf lessons together. One particularly memorable visit was during the SARS epidemic. Jenn flew on an Air China flight to Beijing with only 3 other passengers. Matt was nearly blind with a major infection in his eyes. Jenn flew to China to help Matt get back to the U.S. where he could receive proper medical care.
Matt and Jenn were married in New York on June 5, 2004. Matt came home from China just a week before the wedding and managed to squeeze in some last minute dance classes. They wrote their own vows and planned their own ceremony incorporating much of their Jewish and Christian traditions along with original ideas of their own. At the reception they danced to a 10 piece band.
Within a couple of months of the wedding, Jake was conceived. Before she even knew she was pregnant, Jenn flew around the world from Beijing to New York and back again, and later during the pregnancy visited Tokyo and Kyoto and even Vietnam with Matt. …. Jake
is destined to be a world traveler like his Dad. For much of Jake's fetal state, Matt was in China and Jenn was in NY working on a postdoctoral fellowship with a visit back to China during weeks 22 and 28 weeks.
And oh yes, during weeks 30 and 32 of Jenn's pregnancy, Matt interviewed for his position at DLA PIPER LLP in Seattle with the goal to finally Seattle down together in one place as a family. Jenn was considering an incredible opportunity of her own as a professor at the University of Washington's School of Social Work and Matt wanted her to take it. This was a big sacrifice for Matt.
Thank goodness Matt made it home from China in time for Jake's birth on 3/30/05! On the night of Jake's birth, Matt and Jenn walked 5 miles along New York City's upper west side to induce labor. Matt loved the first moments of Jake's birth. Jake's adorable first cries were a sound he often imitated. Jake squeezed Matt's pinky in the first hour of his life as the nurse and pediatricians weighed and examined him.
When Jake was a mere three days old, we suited him up with a Passport and returned to Beijing for the first five months of Jake's life. Fish soup to induce breast milk production, the watchful eye of a Chinese Ayi (Auntie), and numerous site seeing trips to the Great Wall, the Temple of Heaven and Chinese markets created a unique setting for Jenn and Matt to bond with their son. Jake was literally a superstar everywhere we went in Beijing perhaps, stimulated by culturally driven concerns about our judgment as parents taking a baby outside so soon after birth and also, his cuteness. Matt learned how to change diapers and fell in love with his son while helping establish DLA Piper's new Beijing law office. Jenn returned home to New York City with Jake for a short stint without Matt to finish up her post doctorate program at Columbia.
Finally, in July 2006, Matt, Jenn and Jake were united as a family on one continent and moved into their current home in the Wallingford section of Seattle. Matt settled down in his position with DLA Piper, still shuttling occasionally back and forth to China, with Jenn holding down the home front with her position as assistant professor at the University of Washington. Matt loved his office in Seattle and held his colleagues in the highest regard. The clean air and easy access to running and bicycle trails where other things Matt loved about Seattle.
Matt was the kind of Dad who was just perfect at stepping into the roles his mother could not. He played for hours with Jake building Legos, playing computer games, Chess and soccer, taking Jake for bicycle rides, and to Chucky Cheese (yuk). He kept our home neat and loved to organize toys.
Zoe was born a few years after Jake. During this second birth experience, Matt was a skilled birth partner helping Jenn to give birth to Zoe naturally with Jake standing by his side. It's safe to say the four of us couldn't have been happier on the day of Zoe's birth on June 7, 2009. Matt enjoyed swimming and Spanish language classes with Zoe. Matt hugged, kissed and told his children and his wife that he loved them often.
So, how did Matt's life end so tragically? By all appearances, he was a man who had it all.
Beginning in September of 2010, Matt went into a major depressive episode that robbed him of his ability to sleep and left him constantly anxious. After months of medication changes and different therapists, Matt took his own life on Friday, February 18th 2011. He was in unbearable pain. His suicide was an illogical act of grief over what he saw as the loss of his mind and the belief that his family would be better off without him. These false ideas were horrible manifestations of his illness that could not be shaken. They robbed him of hope. Matt was a brilliant man who held himself to the highest of standards. He couldn't accept anything less than "perfect" and sadly, the knowledge that he had a mental illness represented that for him. These circumstances made it hard for Matt to benefit from the many mental health and other services he received. As his wife, I had a glimpse at the depth of his anguish, but never imagined he would take his own life.
I have no doubt that Matt adored me and his children. Jake was 5 and Zoe was 1 at the time of his death. I was so lucky to have been married to him and to have known him for half of my life.
Matt will forever be in our hearts… Jake and Zoe represent all the amazing gifts that Matt had to offer the world. Their lives and incredible spirits are his legacy.
Matt, as your wife, I want to let you know that I forgive you for what you have done. Rest in Peace, my sweet. We will always love you, remember you and will see you again in heaven.