Mattie's Friend Jocelyn -- We remember you sweetly!

Mattie's Friend Jocelyn -- We remember you sweetly!
On April 2, Mattie's dear friend Jocelyn, only 31 years old, lost her courageous battle to Osteosarcoma. Jocelyn was a loyal and devoted friend to Mattie. Jocelyn had an amazing spirit, can do attitude, obtained her law degree, married a wonderful man, and the friendship she provided Mattie and our family will never be forgotten. Jocelyn was an avid Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation supporter and her family has asked that in memory of Jocelyn donations be sent to Mattie Miracle. Click on the photo above to make a donation in Jocelyn's memory. Jocelyn's family will be sent an acknowledgement of your contribution. As you can see Mattie and Jocelyn had a way of bringing out the best in each other! Two beautiful angels lost to a horrible disease.

Mattie Miracle selected to be the Flame of Hope award recipient!!!

Mattie Miracle selected to be the Flame of Hope award recipient!!!
The Georgetown University Hospital board nominated and selected Mattie Miracle to be the recipient of the Hospital's highest honor, the Flame of Hope award. The Foundation will be bestowed this honor on March 29, 2014 at the Georgetown Pediatrics Gala.

Mattie Miracle's Interview on Fox 5 -- 3rd Annual Candy Drive is a 2000 pound success!

Mattie Miracle's Interview on Fox 5 -- 3rd Annual Candy Drive is a 2000 pound success!
Thank you for making our candy drive a major success!!!!

4th Annual Walk & Family Festival -- A HUGE Success!!!

Mattie Miracle on Fox 5 News -- Candy to Remember Mattie--November 15, 2012

Mattie Miracle on Fox 5 News - May 11, 2012

Thank you for keeping Mattie's memory alive!

Dear Mattie Blog Readers,

It means a great deal to us that you take the time to write to us and to share your thoughts, feelings, and reflections on Mattie's battle and death. Your messages are very meaningful to us and help support us through very challenging times. To you we are forever grateful.
As my readers know, I promised to write the blog for a year after Mattie's death, which would mean that I could technically stop writing on September 9, 2010. However, at the moment, I feel like our journey with grief still needs to be processed and fortunately I have a willing support network still committed to reading. Therefore, the blog continues on. If I should find the need to stop writing, I assure you I will give you advanced notice. In the mean time, thank you for reading, thank you for having the courage to share this journey with us, and most importantly thank you for keeping Mattie's memory alive.

As Mattie would say, Ooga Booga (meaning, I LOVE YOU)! Vicki and Peter

The Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation celebrates its second anniversary!

The Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation was created in the honor of Mattie.

We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit and tax exempt charitable organization dedicated to finding better treatments and a cure to Osteosarcoma and Childhood Cancers. We help build the awareness of osteosarcoma and childhood cancers, and educate the public and medical professionals about the realities of childhood cancers. We advocate for the psychosocial needs of the children and their families who are fighting this terrible disease. Please visit the website at: http://www.mattiemiracle.com/ and take some time to explore the site.

We have only gotten this far because of people like yourself, who have supported us through thick and thin. So thank you for your continued support and caring, and remember:

.... Let's Make the Miracle Happen and Stomp Out Childhood Cancer!

A Remembrance Video of Mattie

Random Shots of Mattie, Family and Friends

Number of Visitors Since October 12th, 2008

April 16, 2014

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in January of 2009. Mattie was in the child life playroom of Memorial Sloan Kettering in NYC. This was Mattie's second visiting to MSK. Thankfully, Linda (Mattie's child life specialist at Georgetown) called the child life folks at MSK and gave them a heads up that Mattie loved boxes. Honestly they thought it was a VERY odd request when Linda asked them to save packing boxes for Mattie's arrival. Nonetheless, they couldn't get over how Mattie transformed these boxes. MSK was a very different place from Georgetown. It was every man for himself up there. No one really paid attention to us, and treatment was done practically anywhere. Even in a hallway! I am not exaggerating. The spacing is so limited there! Another place I never wish to visit ever again in my lifetime. This amazing blue plane that Mattie created started out as many brown packing boxes. Over two days, Mattie transformed them. The plane even came for a taxi ride, back to our hotel room! I know Mattie wanted to bring it back to DC with us, but fortunately I was able to convince him to keep it in NYC. We had so much in our home at that time, I just had no idea where "big blue" was going to fit in. 


Quote of the day: I do not literally paint that table, but the emotion it produces upon me. ~ Henri Matisse

I returned to Mattie's school today to do my second kindergarten art session. This week's lesson was on Matisse. The class has 17 students in it, and fortunately Donna (the teacher), gave me a photo of the class with each student's name attached to it. This helps me to get to know the students faster given that I only have three sessions with them! This morning was a riot! I had my first quiz. We went around the room, to see if I remembered every child's name from the week before! I got each and every one correct! That may not seem like a big deal, but to me learning a student's name is very important. That is the first connection you establish with someone. It was always a very important factor for me with my students when I taught! However, when I was teaching, I taught multiple classes, and how I was able to remember anyone's name back then now amazes me. Because we did not have the same technology available to us like today!

Any case, the kids loved that I knew their names! Before my usual three step process (lecture, hands on project, and snack), I asked them to tell me three things that they could remember about Picasso from last week. Now mind you if I asked my graduate students about what happened last week, I would most likely get blank faces for the first minute or so. But not with five and six year olds. Hands were flying in the air, and the enthusiasm was all over the place. They were able to tell me that Picasso was the master of shapes, that his art form was cubism (big word, no?!), that he preferred to be messy, he was born in Spain, he liked to paint at night, his dad was an art teacher, and I could go on! Get the picture!!!?? They got it!

Today, I introduced the children to Matisse, the Master of Color, the father of Fauvism (wild color, and color that isn't true to what actually exists in nature). Matisse's father wanted him to be a lawyer. However, while recovering from an illness, Matisse's mother brough him some art supplies to keep him busy. As I explained to the children, there was no TV, computers, iPads, or any other technology back then to keep him occupied. Matisse said, "from the moment I held that box of colors in my hands, I knew this was my life." I think this is a profound quote, because Matisse's mom transformed not only Matisse's life, but the world of art as we know it. Unlike Picasso, who basically was a child artist, Matisse came into the world of art in his twenties. 

The children had a chance to learn about Matisse's life, see examples of his paintings, and then I shared with them how Matisse transformed his artistic style as he aged. I did not alert the children to this but Matisse developed cancer and therefore it became impossible for him to physically paint in his 70s. But creativity was within him and destined to come out. Therefore, Matisse developed the art form of paper cut outs (which he could do in a wheelchair or in bed). 

This is an amazing example of a Matisse cut out! I love this example, because this person gives the work scale. Some of the cut outs are huge. They took him years to cut and arrange! I showed the children various examples and even showed them a video clip of Matisse creating an actual cut out. 


During the second half of the session, the children were then given the time to create their own Matisse cut out creation. Donna and I actually cut out all the paper pieces the week before, since that can take hours. But the children were able to select the cut outs they wanted to use, arrange them as they saw fit on a piece of foam core, and then glued them together. 


What I learned today, and mind you I have done this four years now, is some children do not like GLUE. This is my first experience seeing this in Donna's classroom! That may have caught some adults off guard, but I did not skip a beat with this fact. I did not skip a beat because Mattie and I are just like that! We both do not care for the texture of glue on us. We learned to deal with it over time, but it took practice. Just like it will take these two children practice. At first glance, I noticed this one little girl did not have her foam core board filled at all with cut outs. She looked distracted or disinterested. Given that I saw her behavior which was engaged last week, I knew something wasn't right today. So I kept on observing to try to figure out what was up. Did she just not like the assignment or was it something else? It was the glue! Once I acknowledged that she did not like the glue and it was okay not to like that feeling, but to try to work through this and I would help her, we were able to get part of her composition done. The beauty of this particular student is that she reminds me of the female version of my Mattie. If that is possible. She is the same cutie that came up to me last week to personally thank me for my efforts and for making it such a fun session. This week, at the end of my session, I had so many children come up to me and give me hugs. This was a very special gift, because not being a mom anymore, hugs from a child are few and far between. 


After the session was over, the children went to their next class. Meanwhile Donna and I got this brilliant idea of putting each of the children's cut outs together! 






Somehow when I see it like this, it reminds me of a cut out tree! I think Matisse would have truly been proud of the color, feelings, and patterns the children generated today in class.

April 15, 2014

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tuesday , April 15, 2014 -- Mattie died 240 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2006. I honestly can't recall what Mattie was doing under his blanket in the middle of the day, in his clothes no less. I know he WASN'T resting! That was UNHEARD of in our household. NO NAPPING, Mattie just wasn't hard wired for it. Even as a baby. I imagine he was goofing around, playing, and most likely enjoying just being in a big boy bed. I transitioned Mattie to a bed late. Well late in comparison to his peers, who had siblings. Mattie was an active little person, who spent very little time sleeping and the notion of transitioning him to a bed too soon, did not seem productive. It took us a long time to teach Mattie the art of sleeping, but like everything else, when he was ready to learn something, there was no stopping him. He got it right away.  


Quote of the day: For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love. ~ Carl Sagan


It was a cold day in Washington, DC, with torrential rain. A total shock to the system given the spring like weather we have been spoiled with the past couple of days. In the midst of the torrential rain outside, I also had a mini flood inside my kitchen. My garden hose on the deck is the culprit yet again, and the issue has been isolated, but to fix the problem, the entire water supply to my building will need to be shut off to address the issue. Fantastic! Mind you, to me this isn't an option. I need my hose because I must have my garden. Somehow all the staff in our complex seem to understand that necessity and are working hard at trying to find a solution to the water problem. But water inside and outside is not ideal for me. 

Today I am absolutely exhausted and yet continue to work through the exhaustion because so much needs to get done. It is hard to believe the Foundation Walk is about a month away. I think the fact of the matter is that the Foundation has been inundated with so much else this year, that balancing a major fundraiser like the Walk has become almost unmanageable for me. Despite having planned this event five years in a row, it really doesn't plan itself, run itself, and the money just doesn't present itself. Every part of it has to be earned. When I mention this to small business owners, they totally get every aspect I am talking about, and therefore, I do equate the Foundation to running a small business. Which is ironic, because I never viewed myself as having these skill sets. Which is why Peter and I complement each other well and I would say is the reason the Foundation is at the point that it has gotten to today. I still remember several people saying to us during year one, that we would never get to year FIVE! I will always remember that comment. I didn't purposefully get to year five to show these individuals we could do it! That was the furthest from my mind. What they didn't realize is that failing in the eyes of a mother, just won't be tolerated. I did that once to Mattie with cancer, I will not allow that to happen a second time with his Foundation.  

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday, April 14, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken on April 4 of 2009. This was Mattie's 7th and last birthday. Next to Mattie was Meg. Meg was the last child life intern we experienced at Georgetown. Meg is a force, not unlike Mattie and she could hold her own with Mattie. Mattie gravitated to Meg immediately and I suspect Meg was given a heads up about Mattie, that he was one of Georgetown's more challenging little patients. That would be daunting to most new interns, but that did not seem to intimidate Meg (at least on the surface). She rose to the challenge. That day, she took Mattie into the child life play room and helped him decorate the room for his birthday party. I will never forget that room. I returned to this room today with eight high school girls to host an Easter Egg hunt for children and their siblings within the hospital. Some how whenever I enter this room, I am reminded of all the good, bad, happy, and tremendously sad moments within the hospital. 

Quote of the day: Even the smallest act of caring for another person is like a drop of water -it will make ripples throughout the entire pond...  ~ Jessy and Bryan Matteo


This afternoon, I met this lovely group of high school girls outside the Hospital emergency room and together we carried up eggs, baskets, and candy to the pediatric units. Two of the girls I knew already. The second girl on the left in this photo is Isabel. My faithful readers have heard me mention Isabel on the blog, because she is the young lady who introduced me to John Green's book, The Fault in Our Stars. Isabel and I have worked on many projects together, so we know each other well. Next to Isabel (the third girl from the left), is Margaret. I met Margaret through Isabel several years ago when she was involved in her Girl Scout Troop's Build-A-Bear project that was done with Mattie Miracle, in which 100 teddy bears were created and then hand delivered to children at Georgetown Hospital. 

I had the opportunity today to give the girls a brief overview of Mattie Miracle. Several of the girls are interested in working in hospitals. They also had the opportunity to tour the peds floor, and to hear about the child life profession and to ask both Katie and Jess (two child life professionals) questions about their career, its requirements, and the nature and complexities of their job. 

Linda, Mattie's Child Life Specialist, also ordered us wonderful Georgetown Cupcakes for the occasion. Georgetown Cupcake is very generous to the Hospital and truly supports all events hosted there. I remember my first Georgetown Cupcake! It wasn't in the "free" world. It was confined to the PICU. In my mind, Georgetown Cupcake will always be associated with cancer. With that said, they are still my all time favorite cupcakes.

The high school girls lined/hid the hospital hall ways, the family lounge, and the playroom with eggs! I thought the hallway bench looked very festive!








The siblings of pediatric patients were able to hunt for eggs today in the hallways, family lounge, and play room. As you can see they were RUNNING everywhere! I never saw eggs being scooped up so quickly. It was like watching the human vacuum.

Children confined to their rooms were brought baskets filled with eggs. Though they were unable to participate in the event, they were not forgotten. The high school girls were escorted by Jess from room to room to drop off baskets to the oncology patients. 


I am not sure why this part amazed me so much! But after the eggs were accumulated, the kids wanted to come back to the playroom and count their eggs. In a way, it was like a competition to see who collected the most. Hearing them count was a riot! Some needed guidance on numbers, but it was a great teaching tool, candy and Easter eggs! I can't think of a better way to learn about numbers. 

More counting going on! 













Doesn't this look like sheer Egg Happiness!????

When I left Georgetown today, I was certainly happy that we could make these children feel special! But I would say, I definitely felt off. I was off because so many of the wonderful faces of people I once knew and loved no longer work at the Hospital. To me this is another loss, with each person leaving, a piece of Mattie is taken. All that is left is four walls, a ceiling, and a floor. I find this greatly upsetting. 



This evening, Peter and I had the opportunity to attend a community gathering in honor of our April item drive. This gathering was held by our new friend and supporter, Linda. I became connected to Linda, through my friend Christine. Linda suffered a loss of a colleague at work a few months ago, and when she suffered that loss, she connected with me and made a very generous donation to the Foundation. From that one donation, our friendship has evolved. Not because of the contribution, but because we take the time to emotionally want to connect with each other, learn about the other, and we enjoy all our email exchanges. Tonight was the first time I got to meet Linda face to face. Isn't it ironic, how you write to someone often and then you get to meet in person, and you feel like you know them already?! Peter and I are grateful that Christine connected us, we are honored that Linda reached out to us, and are very moved that her friends and neighbors would bring us items and toiletries to stock our snack/item cart at the Hospital. 



Linda gave me the opportunity to tell her neighbors and friends about Mattie Miracle and I also explained to them where their items would be going and how they would be used at the Hospital. Putting this into context helps otherwise the drive seems meaningless. But what struck both Peter and me, is this is one special community. These folks get together like this either weekly, but certainly monthly! I am not sure how they manage this, but they do! Socializing and being neighborly are important to them. Very different from our experiences in DC. Check out this adorable Bunny Cake! He was a red velvet cake!







To me this is a photo that captures the ultimate grass roots effort. Peter and I may have started Mattie Miracle. But our friend Christine promoted it to her friend, Linda. Linda then took the baton and carried it to her neighborhood. Which brings us to tonight's item drive! From left to right is Linda, Vicki, and Christine. 


All the items that people dropped off tonight! My car trunk is now stuffed!!! A great problem to have!


















I end tonight's posting with this beautiful needlepoint. Linda created this wonderful gift for me as a surprise. I think it is lovely, I appreciate that she kept the details of the seven rays of the sun (for Mattie's seven years on this earth) and in the lower right hand corner added a little lego piece! Just adorable, intricate, and unique! Not unlike Mattie. 




April 13, 2014

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken on August 6 of 2009. How do I know the exact date? It is perhaps one we will never forget, because this is when we learned that Mattie's cancer was terminal. Notice Peter was holding Mattie and Jocelyn's boat in his hand. This was the same boat that I have been showing on the blog the past two nights. I wanted to put this whole scene into context for you! While Mattie was with Jocelyn, her sister, and Brandon designing boats and having boat races in the sink, Peter and I were meeting with Mattie's oncologist. We were having a very serious conversation in which we learned that Mattie's cancer spread to almost every one of his internal organs. It was a horrible conversation, in which we had to refocus from a cure to managing pain and a humane death. The scene you see here, was literally right after we came from seeing the doctor, and we came back into the clinic and were reunited with Mattie. As you can see, Mattie was intently looking at us to study our reactions and to determine what was going on. Kathleen, one of Mattie's outstanding HEM/ONC in-patient nurses (in pink) was bending down in the photo. It was highly unusual for Kathleen to leave the in-patient unit to come to the out patient clinic (so Mattie was already suspicious), but she wanted to be on hand to lend support. In so many ways, this photo was a snapshot of CRISIS. Crisis of parents, crisis of a child trying to understand what was happening, and even crisis in a health care provider trying to hold it together as she tried to help a family through yet another horrible hurdle. Mattie's nurses went through it all with us, and unfortunately in Mattie's cases, we never rarely received positive news. It was one nightmare result after another. 

Quote of the day: The weak fall, but the strong will remain and never go under!  Anne Frank

I know from looking at the calendar that today was Palm Sunday. Yet in all reality, I am not sure if I was coming or going. I had the opportunity to meet up with my friend Carolyn today and her two children. I met Carolyn when Mattie and her daughter were in preschool together. We have been connected ever since and Carolyn has been our Foundation raffle chair for five years! Running the raffle is a major commitment and labor of love. But Carolyn's whole family is involved in the Walk. About a month before the Walk, Carolyn and I always make our annual pilgrimage to the Christmas Tree Shops in Waldorf, MD. Mind you, we don't go alone. Her children come with us. They have been doing this with us since they were like 4 and 6 years of age. Now Ellie, is almost 12. I have watched them age and mature. They happen to be outstanding shoppers and they are enthusiastic about the Walk and really look for items that will fit into the baskets we are raffling off. They are fun to shop with and after our shopping adventure we always have lunch together. Over the years, I have observed them maturing and today we had all sorts of conversations. I can only imagine that this is most likely the type of dialogues I would have had with Mattie if he were alive today. Needless to say, we had a very productive and yet another fun adventure together today. We had no plans for Palm Sunday, and in a way, I appreciated Carolyn getting me out of my home, away from the computer, and getting to spend time with her children.

When I got home today, I had the brilliant idea to start cleaning our deck. Mind you Peter had been glued to the computer all day, trying to get our Walk Registration site up, loaded, and operational. That was a MAJOR super human feat. It is super human because we have an old and antiquated system. It is my hope that within the next few months we can upgrade our website and with that make all our technology needs more user friendly to work with from our end. But right now, what Peter created today took technology know how. 

Any case, our deck was a royal mess from the birds. The cleaning was intense but we made good headway. So much more needs to be done. I am happy to say the Walk website has been launched as well as our on-line raffle. I invite you to both. We already have walk registrations coming in!!!

Registration: https://www.mattiemiracle.com/Cancer_Walk_2014.html
Raffle: https://www.mattiemiracle.com/Raffle.html

April 12, 2014

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2009. This photo was a follow up to the one posted last night, of the boat races that took place in the oncology clinic. Mattie and Jocelyn teamed up, created a very unique boat made out of cups, tin foil, and paper sails. They raced against Brandon and Jocelyn's sister, and take a wild guess who WON?! It is hard to believe that just a month later Mattie died and now five years later, Jocelyn died as well. 

Quote of the day: No one can tell what goes on in between the person you were and the person you become. No one can chart that blue and lonely section of hell. There are no maps of the change. You just come out the other side. Or you don't. ~ Stephen King


Peter and I began our day at the crack of dawn! In addition to headaches, I also am unable to sleep. This issue has been going on for weeks, which is a royal problem and greatly impacts my headaches and everything else about the way I function. Peter took our neighbor, who is an older adult, to the emergency room at 7am. She fell and really needed to be examined and scanned. While Peter went to the hospital, I began Foundation work. There are certainly seasons in which I am literally working around the clock. Probably not unlike any small business owner. Just constantly working! If I don't work, nothing gets done. That produces a great deal of angst and pressure, which I know correlates to physical symptoms. Throw in grief and trauma, and we could have a party.


The highlight of our day today was meeting up with our friends Heidi and Phil. They asked us to go out to dinner. Typically when working on Walk website design, we wouldn't have wanted to leave our home. But we decided that we did need to take a break. I of course jump at the chance to socialize, since I spend a great deal of time by myself typically. We had a lovely dinner outside in DC, on a rooftop deck. It truly was spring in DC and after dinner we walked several miles home to where we live. On our journey home, we passed Mattie moon! I naturally couldn't help but capture a photo!
While crossing through Dupont Circle, we saw an unusual site.... a Mallard Duck! Mattie would have gone bonkers over this! Check out this "Dupont Duck" just lounging in the greenery! Honestly the East Coast has been so isolated inside all winter long, people are just craving outdoor time! People are literally like ants coming out of the woodwork! They are EVERYWHERE!











Later this evening Michelle, the undergraduate student from Georgetown who I had the pleasure of meeting a few weeks ago, sent me a few more photos from the Relay for Life that took place on the campus this weekend. She created a "In Memory of Mattie Brown" luminary. I was very touched to see this photo of Facebook tonight!









In addition to the luminary, Michelle also created this beautiful tribute of Mattie to post at the Relay. Very lovely and as I told her, it means a lot to me that my presentation captured her attention enough for her to want to spread Mattie's story around to others. It not only makes me feel effective as a Foundation leader, but it makes me feel proud as Mattie's mom. Through my words I was able to convey just how special a boy he was!

April 11, 2014

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday, April 11, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2009. Things may have looked happy here, but they were not really happy. Mattie's situation was terminal. As we know now.... so was Jocelyn's (since Jocelyn lost her battle on April 2, 2014). Jocelyn was the buddy kneeling down next to Mattie. That day in clinic, Mattie, Jocelyn, Brandon (Mattie's big buddy), and Jocelyn's sister (Hannah) decided to have boat races. Not big boats, but boats they built out of cups and other materials which they could race in the sink. If you look closely you can see that Mattie and Jocelyn teamed up together and named their boat, "Team Mattie and Jocelyn." Brandon and Hannah clearly comprised the other Team. Most likely the outcome of these teams was rigged, but it was all in good fun. Mattie let FEW people in while battling cancer, and truly only became friends with Brandon and Jocelyn, both cancer patients much older than him. Yet I have to imagine each of these individuals got something from this bond, which is what kept them together. Two cute faces, who fought the same horrible disease. 

Quote of the day: The connections between and among women are the most feared, the most problematic, and the most potentially transforming force on the planet. ~ Adrienne Rich




















I received this photo today from an undergraduate student at the Georgetown University. She is participating in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. I had the pleasure of meeting this student a few weeks ago when I participated in the "Cookie Friday" ethics presentation. If you look closely at the sign, notice that Michelle placed Mattie's name on it. Mattie is right next to the 'E' in WE! It was lovely to see Mattie remembered. In fact, while I was presenting a few weeks ago, it was very apparent to me that Michelle understood childhood cancer personally. I am good at reading non-verbals while I am talking. After class, Michelle was kind enough to come up to chat with me and to tell me about the loss of her close friend, who would have been graduating with her this year, if he hadn't died from cancer. So unfortunately she understands the horrors of cancer at such a young and tender age. What I have found is cancer has a way of unifying people, regardless of one's background and other demographic differences.

Today at lunch time, I had the opportunity to take another break and meet up with my friend Annie. Annie and I met several years ago. I want to say it was in 2010. But years for me are a lot more gray after Mattie died. Given that Annie lost her daughter in May of 2010, I have to imagine it had to be right after Eloise died. But don't hold me to it, it could have been in 2011. In any case, Annie and I met on Capitol Hill. We both went to a CureSearch advocacy training and then went to lobby on the Hill. Because I live in the District of Columbia and therefore really have no representation on the Hill, I was paired up with Annie who lives in the State of Virginia. One thing led to another, and we clicked. We have been buddies ever since. Annie doesn't live nearby, after all Virginia is a large State, but when she comes into town, we always meet up. She let me know she was coming into town this week, and naturally we always find a way to connect. We connect for many reasons, but we also connect because it is safe to air our feelings. We get each other. We get it when we say..... we are losing friends, people don't understand us, we are feeling blah, how are we going to make it through another birthday, anniversary, holiday, and so forth?! This isn't HAPPY conversation, but this is our reality. A reality that most don't want to hear, a reality that others want to close their eyes and ears to, and a reality that would be safer to say..... this is a Vicki and Annie problem, rather than this is a problem that these women are left to deal with for a lifetime, how can we help?!

At the end of lunch, Annie presented me with packets of seeds. Annie has an amazing garden and can arrange flowers in an incredible artistic fashion. Something I admire. I will do my best with these seeds. She shared with me sunflower seeds! Something I ABSOLUTELY love. I love sunflowers, they have to be one of my favorite flowers! I love their faces as they turn their faces up looking for the sun and then she also shared with me Eloise's favorite flower, the Zinnia. I too happen to love Zinnias, and they are red zinnias, which Mattie would have greatly approved of! So let's see what we can cultivate in our city garden this summer.... in Mattie's and Eloise's memories!

April 10, 2014

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2009. It is hard to believe that five month later, Mattie died. That day, we walked Mattie down to the Washington Mall, and in his wheelchair, we toured him around. He got to see and feed the ducks and just enjoy the sights and sounds of spring. This was a happy moment caught on camera. But as you saw a few nights ago, not all moments were happy. I did not post those moments on the blog for the most part. I am not sure who I was trying to protect back then? My readers? Maybe, or perhaps I wanted to give Mattie his space and dignity. But I would say Mattie's battle was heroic and hard, and the battle Peter and I endured while helping Mattie day to day was excruciatingly painful. We did not get to turn away, we had to see the tough, depressing, and the unbearable. 


Quote of the day: Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things. ~ Robert Brault


I had the wonderful opportunity to stop working today for a little bit and visit with my friend Mary Ann. Mary Ann and I became friends in graduate school and have known each other quite a while. Today was her birthday and given that we have known each other a long time, we have therefore shared many of life's ups and downs. Yet what I always marvel at with Mary Ann is despite whatever set backs she has received, she remains positive and finds some sort of ray of hope in the whole situation. Even when the sky seems to be filled with clouds. I think that is a real gift.

It was a glorious spring day in Washington, DC and Mary Ann and I actually had lunch outside. It almost seems hard to believe given the winter we had. We chatted about so many things. Talking is how our friendship emerged. We had classes together and in our classes we were required to dialogue, we were required to process things, and in one class in particular, we were required to discuss ethically sensitive material and debate it. Mary Ann and I in many ways took the lead on this in class, and through this became friends. We have been friends ever since. 

Brault's quote means something to me. Because we live in such a BUSY world. In fact, when people tell me they are busy, I can feel my head spinning and stomach turning. We are all SO busy as a society that somehow we are too busy for the people in our lives, and yet if we don't enjoy the little things like connecting with friends then one day I have no doubt we will look back and see we missed the BIG things. Friendships and connections with people need to be cultivated. They just do not happen and remain forever. Taking them for granted is a mistake, because what you put into your relationships is what you typically will get out of them. 

Though I am not a phone person, my phone rang tonight and it was my lifetime friend Karen from New York. She hasn't been feeling well either. Last night she had me worried, so tonight she called me to update me on her status. It is funny, I don't like her pains and condition and she doesn't like mine. So we commiserated, but the one thing I never have to explain to Karen is why I am feeling the way that I do. She just gets it, or accepts it. I find it beyond frustrating to have to explain why I might be sad, mad, angry, or insert the feeling over something as it relates to Mattie's death. I don't expect others to be mind readers for sure, but I think with some level of sensitivity it would seem rather obvious that at certain times of the year and under certain stressors, some things are bound to set me off.