A mother’s letter

This quarter, TCU lost two current students. One was Matthew Nichols of Irvine, Calif., who died on Jan. 1. His mother shared a letter she wrote to the TCU community that was read at an on-campus memorial in January.

A mother’s letter

Renee and Matthew Nichols

A mother’s letter

This quarter, TCU lost two current students. One was Matthew Nichols of Irvine, Calif., who died on Jan. 1. His mother shared a letter she wrote to the TCU community that was read at an on-campus memorial in January.

Dearest friends of Matthew at TCU,

I am writing this letter from Matthew’s room at the time I would have been helping him get ready for TCU and then taking him to the airport on his way to Fort Worth. He was sooo looking forward to returning to TCU to be with all of you. We were counting the days together. I had texted him On Dec. 31: “Hi, Matthew, I love you. Almost January!”

I was staying with my parents that night as I was undergoing treatment for my cancer. When I woke up that morning, I did not feel sick… and I had this verse [from Psalm 100] repeating in my mind three times:

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”

I got out of bed and sat on the sofa. I turned my phone on, and there was a delayed text from Matthew: “I love you too.” I was so joyful. Then the phone rang, and it was my husband telling me what happened… I did not cry. I stood up and immediately envisioned the angels scooping Matthew up and presenting him to our Holy… Majestic… Living God……. Face to Face… How Glorious that moment must have been and continues to be. Matthew was worthy to be in His Presence as He had accepted the Lord as His Savior and chose to live His life for Him.

Matthew recently told me, “Mom, no one at TCU needs God.” Why would he say that, I wondered. That grieved me and continues to do so.

Matthew loved astronomy, and during his trip this summer to the island of Patmos in Greece, he slept night after night on the roof top gazing at all the mighty stars and galaxies that God created. Did he so deeply understand that the God of the universe created each one and the number of stars is infinite and cannot be counted and the space in which it exists cannot be measured? I encourage you to take the time to marvel at HIS creations in the world. To take the time to evaluate your relationship with God.

Matthew was intentional about silencing himself from texting, Instagram, Facebook to seek out answers to his faith. He was raised in a Christian home but did not want to just believe what he had been told. He wanted his own answers and sought them out himself. He met with [his friend] Ben to ask him the tough questions. He took time out to go to Bible study here. He attended Ignite. He chose to go to Costa Rica on a mission trip during his spring break. Taking time out from the party scene for a while to seek out answers, he found out where true JOY comes from.

Matthew had struggles in college just like any of you. There were life changes for him when we moved from his childhood home that affected him deeply, the breakup of his four-year girlfriend, finding out I had cancer, the beating of his best friend here at TCU, nose surgery at TCU, some health issues and then returning home this past semester due to his serious leg injury and finding out my cancer had returned.

But little did we know that it turned out to be the blessing of our lives to share every day with him while he was at home. Our last time together was with our closest family friends, paddle-boarding and playing on the beach — Matthew’s favorite place.

There was nothing left unsaid. We all knew how much he loved us, and he knew how much he was loved. Because Matthew had accepted the Lord as his Savior, he is sharing eternal life with HIM. Even though our hearts are broken as we will miss his smiling face, his witty ways and his hugs, we have full peace, knowing that he is experiencing eternal life with His Heavenly Father now. There is no concept of time in heaven. It does not exist. You may live another 60 years, but if you know our Lord and Savior, Matthew will meet you within a blink of an eye.

PhotoIs it really true that Kids at TCU don’t need God? Our desire from the Nichols family would be for you to consider this relationship that Matthew had with our Lord. Nothing is more important – not your schoolwork, not your job now or in the future, not any money you have or any relationships you have here on Earth. You cannot take any of it with you. You were all created uniquely and for a purpose. Any strength or weakness you have was created just for you.

Psalms 139:13-16: says: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the Earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

Be secure in who you are. Matthew learned to do that, finally embracing his weaknesses and realizing that is what made him strong.

I just want to share one story with the writer’s permission that touched us so deeply, to know this about our son. We would also loved to be encouraged by any memories you may have had with Matt or how he touched your life as well. Please take the time to leave a comment on the stories page [of the Matthew Nichols Memorial website].

But for now I leave you with this…

Hi, Mrs. Nichols,
We met today a the restaurant, but I did not get a chance to tell you my favorite story regarding Matt. So I thought I would send it to you here. Last spring, Phi Kap had a formal dance that both Matt and I attended. Toward the end of the dance, Matt and I both lost our dates. Upset, I left the building to “blow off some steam,” and found Matt outside talking to a homeless man. I was curious, so I walked over to hear what they were talking about. Matt was so immersed in the conversation that he did not even notice I was next to him listening in. Immediately, I realized he was giving the homeless man positive encouragement and was talking him through all of his problems. This conversation lasted for at least half an hour and ended with Matt preaching his faith and reminding the man that God is always with him. Matt was in a few business classes, and we always presented together for class projects. He was one of the brightest and funniest kids that I knew, and the only other Phi Kap who was more interested in having a philosophical/religious conversation than partying. I am going to miss him more than He knows, but I look forward to seeing him on the other side.

All of our love,
Renee, George and Taylor Nichols

P.S. – To TCU alumni: It was a privilege to have TCU agree to run the letter in the alumni magazine for you to read. Lives were changed and kids continue to seek, grow and be challenged in their faith from that night. Two fraternity boys signed up for the spring break mission trip to Belize this year and took the last two spots just like Matthew and his best friend did the previous year. I did find out from Ben, the college pastor at Christ Chapel, that the kids who went this year are short on sponsorship funds. If you are so led, they are in need of an additional $2,000. If more is raised, the money will go toward scholarships the following year. You can make online donations here:

or mail your donation to:

Christ Chapel Bible Church
3701 Birchman Ave.
Fort Worth, TX 76107

Be sure to include your name and address on the check or envelope so that donation credit may be provided for tax purposes. You can write “In Honor of Matthew Nichols” in the memo line, or if an online donation, you can choose College Belize mission trip and Matt Nichols as attendee. Thank you, and God bless.