On April 28, Matthew Marroki took his last breath. He was only seventeen years old and died in a home fire during his sleep.  He was the son of a wonderful family whom I’ve known for over twenty years. Back then, his father’s business was in the same shopping center as our family business. His mother would occasionally bring their three children to visit so I mostly remember Matthew as a young boy with big bright eyes.  

The tragedy of that April night shocked and saddened our close-knit community. While no one deserves for this to happen to them, it’s especially difficult when you know the type of family the Marrokis are: loving, hard-working, and charitable. Always optimistic, Laith, Matthew’s father, would turn any negative situation into a positive experience. He didn’t dwell on the past and embraced life’s ups and downs as lessons to learn from. It doesn’t surprise me that a year after the loss of his son, their family has found a beautiful way to honor Matthew and keep his legacy alive through his incredible artwork which mainly focuses on women, diversity, strength, and individuality. 

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One of Matthew’s artworks

“The things that give us the most strength are the things he left behind for us to remember him by,” said Laith.

Matthew would’ve been a senior right now, getting ready to graduate with his peers and to study architectural engineering in college while continuing a career as a professional artist. He would’ve been advocating for refugees, a lifelong pursuit of his. He was heavily involved in the Amnesty Club, a chapter of Amnesty International. One of the last projects he helped organize was a large scale donation of necessities to help refugees make a new start at Freedom House Detroit, a 501 (c) 3 temporary home for indigent survivors of persecution from around the world who are seeking asylum in the United States and Canada. Matthew would’ve been scheduling a trip to Ecuador. He’d already traveled to Spain and wanted to experience other cultures. At night, he would’ve been creating loads of artwork.

The genius of this young man was interrupted at a young age, but he left his family and friends with loving and heartwarming memories; he left humanitarian organizations with his serviceable spirit; and he left the world his masterpieces which his father says “helps bring some peace to our broken hearts.”

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Matthew’s Self-Portrait

“Matthew was sent here to touch those he met and even the ones he never did,” said Laith. “We truly believe that he fulfilled his mission here on earth.”  

Matthew has handed the baton to his family, who has wasted no time continuing his work.  They had a company restore the paintings affected by the fire and have organized an exhibition intended to honor Matthew’s legacy and raise funds for a cause he truly believed in – the refugees. All donated money at Matthew’s Masterpieces will benefit Freedom House Detroit which offers relief for victims of war, dictatorship and famine.

“With all the sorrows we’ve been going through, we feel that Matthew is still here, taking care of us like he always did when he was walking this earth,” said Laith. “We would like to share his beautiful journey with our friends, family, and the world.”

Stephen Levine, in his book Who Dies? writes,It is because you believe you are born that you fear death. Who is it that was born? Who is it that dies? Look within…If our only spiritual practice were to live as though we were already dead, relating to all we meet, to all we do, as though it were our final moments in the world, what time would there be for old games or falsehoods or posturing? If we lived our life as though we were already dead, as though our children were already dead, how much time would there be for self-protection and the re-creation of ancient mirages? Only love would be appropriate, only the truth.” 

Matthew’s Masterpieces is scheduled for 4 to 7p.m. April 28-29 at the Troy Community Center at 3179 Livernois Road in Troy. Tickets are only $50 and at the event will be finger food, a silent auction, and artwork prints available for sale.  

To learn more, visit https://www.facebook.com/Matthews-Masterpieces-1755710791402257/

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One of Matthew’s artwork

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