Mattie Miracle 8th Annual Walk & Family Festival was an $88,000 Success!!!

Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation Promotional Video

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 7th anniversary!

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

We are a 501(c)(3) Public Charity. We are dedicated to increasing childhood cancer awareness, education, advocacy, research and psychosocial support services to children, their families and medical personnel. Children and their families will be supported throughout the cancer treatment journey, to ensure access to quality psychosocial and mental health care, and to enable children to cope with cancer so they can lead happy and productive lives. Please visit the website at: 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

February 21, 2018

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2007. I went digging through my files last night to find this photo. I could recall it but wasn't sure what year it was taken. My mom saw the photos of cherry trees that I posted yesterday on the blog and commented that she wished she could see them. I reminded her that she not only saw our DC cherry trees but viewed them with Mattie. 

Quote of the day: Your time is your life. That is why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time. It is not enough to just say relationships are important; we must prove it by investing time in them. Words alone are worthless… Relationships take time and effort, and the best way to spell love is “T-I-M-E.” ~ Rick Warren

I very much stand behind the sentiments of tonight's quote. Words are important but giving of your time is what separates an average relationship from a meaningful one. The investment of our self sounds easier said than done. We are all very busy and running in different directions, but there are times when I do see that someone is either alone or wants to talk, so I stop. I maybe frustrated internally at first by this, but I then let it go. 

Such an issue with time happened today! As we approach Foundation Walk season, I am more guarded with my time. Sunny takes up a good chunk of my day walking, so I have to factor that into my daily schedule. This morning I headed to the dentist. Most people would metro or uber there given its distance, but I walk. It is about a two mile walk each way. After that adventure, I got home and Sunny was begging for a walk. So out I went again and walked for another 90 minutes. Sunny can move at a clip and my thinking was we were going to walk quickly and return. However, once out of our building, I could hear my neighbor calling my name. My neighbor is an adult with special needs. I have known him for over a decade as he even would visit me when Mattie was alive. My neighbor likes talking to me and spending time with me. I am not deducing this, it outright tells me!

In any case, my neighbor decided to join us for our walk. I wasn't planning on this, and walking is typically a time when I do a lot of brainstorming for the Foundation. It is my private time to be outside and not to be mentally disturbed. Other than navigating the streets of DC. My neighbor doesn't walk as fast as Sunny or me, so we had to slow down and of course have conversation. Initially I was upset by this, but as we kept going I let that feeling dissipate as clearly my neighbor was lonely and was looking for an activity.

The funny part of all of this is my neighbor isn't used to walking so far. So I feel confident we gave him some exercise and time outside in our beautiful close to 80 degree weather. Yet one thing my neighbor can acknowledge which many cognitively intact people can't, is the loss of Mattie, and how this changes one's life. My neighbor lost his mom recently, who he was very close with, and from that loss he has learned the feelings of living with a forever loss. Working with people who have special needs can be challenging, frustrating, and overwhelming, yet I have found that people with special needs are very in tune for the most part to feelings and emotions and can communicate in ways so many of us can't. So at the end of the day, I maybe still working tonight because my schedule got pushed back, but taking the TIME to be present with those in our lives has intangible rewards. 

February 20, 2018

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Tuesday, February 20, 2018 -- Mattie died 440 weeks ago today. 

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2006. Mattie was four years old and I asked him to pose in front of this lovely red bud tree. They are very popular in our DC area and they are electric in color! This tree was outside of one of Mattie's favorite restaurants. You maybe able to tell given Mattie's expression in this photo, that he really wasn't in the mood for pictures and standing still. In usual fashion, Mattie complied but he gave his "false" smile. That smile always indicated to me how Mattie felt about something.

Quote of the day: Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same.Francesca Reigler

This afternoon I met my friend Tina to celebrate her birthday. I did not know Tina when Mattie was alive. I got to meet her through a mutual friend and she came to our Foundation walk. I always consider Tina my first friend that I made after Mattie died. Now Tina is a major Foundation donor and I appreciate her standing behind our work. 
One of the desserts we had today to celebrate Tina's birthday. They were profiteroles stuffed with ice cream. They were delicious and we had a lovely lunch.... not rushed, with a beautiful window view, and wonderful food. 
Later in the day, I took Sunny out for another walk. It was glorious in DC today, with temperatures in the mid 70's! All of the cherry trees in front of the Kennedy Center are thoroughly confused! 
The colors are breath taking, the whole spectrum of pink!
Not only are they beautiful but the fragrance emanating from them is intoxicating. It is hard to believe that it will rain and be cold later in the week, which will most likely kill these beautiful flowers. 
While I was walking Sunny, I had the opportunity to talk with one of the guard dog handlers in front of the embassy near us. Typically we do not talk to each other because he walks an ominous German Shepherd. But today the handler asked me if I wanted to switch dogs, as he said his dog is a "cupcake." I laughed and said.... "some cupcake!" He proceeded to tell me that I would find walking his dog much easier than walking Sunny. He actually said Sunny is too much dog for him to walk. Fascinating to me! Yes Sunny does have a mind of his own when he walks and if there is a squirrel or rat involved, Sunny has no problem running after it. But if you walk Sunny enough, you know what to look out for and how to react and control him. I guess I did not realize others were observing me and saw the art form that I execute every day!

February 19, 2018

Monday, February 19, 2018

Monday, February 19, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in February of 2008. That particular day, Mattie's kindergarten class went to Martha's Table in DC to help bag donuts and other items for the homeless. It was a sight to see all these little ones working! They appeared to be set up in a factory type line, with gloves and hair nets on! After all the food was bagged, it was clean up time. Mattie was a good cleaner and helper! As you can see he took a broom and pan and was actively participating. The little girl next to Mattie is Charlotte. Mattie deemed Charlotte his "girlfriend." Actually to be more specific he said she was the person he was going to marry! The beauty of Mattie!!! They were the best of friends and brought out the best in each other. 

Quote of the day: Compassion brings us to a stop, and for a moment we rise above ourselves. Mason Cooley

Peter and I went to MedStar Georgetown University Hospital today to push our Mattie Miracle snack and item cart. Before we went up to the pediatric unit, we decided to walk through the children's art gallery on the first floor of the main hospital. Purposefully I do this periodically to see if Mattie's poster is still on display. It has been for 8 years now. 

This poster means a lot to me. Back in 2009, Mattie's child life specialist, Linda, asked Mattie to design his ideal hospital room. Mattie did just that out of Legos. But it did not stop there. Mattie developed a whole story line around the Lego model and the Lego characters he placed in the scene. The story was captured and turned into this poster! 

I am sure when Linda invited Mattie to participate in this exercise, she never thought that the outcome would be a legacy item!

Next to Mattie's poster in the art gallery is a collage I developed at the same time. Basically addressing the same question..... how would you design an ideal pediatric oncology room and hospital?

I answered that question visually and my canvas has been on display next to Mattie's for eight years!

Given that today is President's Day, Peter was able to come with me to the Hospital and push the cart around the three pediatric units. I am so glad that Peter joined me and got to see the cart in motion! Keep in mind that these were the same units Mattie was in while in treatment. So going back is always filled with memories. In fact, Peter walked right into room 10 in the PICU today. Room 10 is significant to us because that was the room Mattie died in. A room never to be forgotten. 

This is what the Mattie Miracle Cart looks like. Or at least the back of the cart! Pictured with Peter and me are Tricia and Miki. Both of these women were Mattie's nurses! Absolutely incredible, competent and compassionate women!

I go to the Hospital once a month to push this cart personally. I do this for various reasons. First, I want to be able to interact directly with patients and families, second, I want to observe how effective the cart is, and third, I want to get direct feedback from families about what works or needs improvement on the cart. Overall, I would say people are stunned that such a cart exists and better yet that it is a free service to them.  

February 18, 2018

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in February of 2003. Mattie was ten months old. When I saw this photo tonight in my files, I was taken aback with how similar Mattie looks to Peter. This is totally a Peter look and gesture. I never really noticed this before, but there is something to be said to genes. 

Quote of the day: She was struck by the simple truth that sometimes the most ordinary things could be made extraordinary, simply by doing them with the right people... ~ Nicholas Sparks

I am a big Nicholas Sparks fan. A friend of mine from college, introduced me to Sparks years ago. She was studying to be a librarian and was intrigued by all books. For most of my adult life, I have always read more technical writings and not books for fun. Well that was until my friend started sharing the plot of a book she had read. The book was called, The Notebook, by Sparks. I was so captured by the tale she was telling, that I got the book. It was from that moment in time (probably when I was in my 20's), that I began reading fictional books for fun. Though I admit what I find fun reading, many others wouldn't! I prefer books about relationships and loss. 

Sparks' quote, as with a lot of his writings, is spot on. When you are in the company of the "right" person, the ordinary does feel like the extraordinary. It is the presence of that person that is special and therefore whatever you do, seems memorable or extraordinary. I would say that Mattie was such a person for Peter and me. Mattie had a way of making the ordinary seem so different. He got us to look at the world, situations, and experiences in a whole new light. Which is why (besides the simple fact that Mattie was our son) the death of Mattie continues to reverberate throughout our everyday lives. 

When I got home last night, these flowers were waiting me. Notice the roses are orange.... a Mattie Miracle color. In the middle of the roses are rubrum lilies. Which are my all time favorites because of their fragrance. They can brighten up a room, especially in the winter time. Their fragrance transports you right into summer. 
This afternoon, we took Sunny for a walk on Roosevelt Island. He was SO excited, he was practically running on the leash. However, he complied by stopping for a photo! It was 48 degrees, but it felt like spring was trying to pop out. 
Even the ducks were out and about and floating by us!
I affectionately call this "Peter's tree." Peter used to come to the Island and snap photos of this great big tree during each of the seasons. It is amazing to watch the transformation of this space throughout the year. Regardless of the weather though, Roosevelt Island is still a favorite of ours (and that includes Mattie and Sunny!). 

February 17, 2018

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken on Valentine's Day of 2009. Mattie's classmates made him all sorts of Valentine's Day cards. Enough cards to fill two shoe boxes! In addition, one of Mattie's friends gave him this big lollipop! Mattie thought the size of the candy was hysterical! He never ate it, but enjoyed playing with it!

Quote of the day: Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It's not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it's when you've had everything to do, and you've done it. Margaret Thatcher

I am now back in Washington, DC. However, this is what I left today. The weather has been glorious all week in Los Angeles. Sunny every day, and in the 70's! As is typical, DC greeted me with its usual..... raw and rainy weather.

This was what I saw during take off! 
Flying over the Pacific! Looking at Southern California and mountains in the distance!
Quite a sight! 
I couldn't get over all the sailboats in the water! They are all the little white dots in the water!

As it typical with me, I got to know my seatmate. He started talking to me. He grew up in Westchester County, NY, like me. He said he could hear my accent! As I said to him, you can take the girl out of NY, but you can't take the NY out of the girl!

In any case, I learned a ton about this man. He was visiting Los Angeles to say good-bye to a friend of his who is dying from cancer. Can you imagine having to do this? I could just picture his week, and from that alone, I knew anyone who experienced this would need a listening ear. I also learned about his dad who has Alzheimer's and the challenges he has been facing with his dad's care. Ironically, when flying back from LA, I always meet someone who has a meaningful story! I remember one of my last seatmates. His name was Kevin. He served in Afghanistan and I got to hear some of his experiences. At the end of the day, we both concluded that we experienced two different traumas, but the aftermath was the same. He literally talked to me for 4.5 hours. 

When I arrived home, Peter snapped this photo of Sunny and me. This is one happy pooch tonight! 
Can you see Sunny smiling? 

February 16, 2018

Friday, February 16, 2018

Friday, February 16, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken on Valentine's Day of 2009. This photo was taken after the one I displayed on last night's blog. Mattie surprised me at the hospital that day with a crown of paper hearts and this box filled with cut outs
and drawings. To this day I still have this box inside my closet. I remember that moment in time. Mattie celebrated many holidays and weekends in the hospital. The hospital was practically our second home, and we saw more of that second home that year, than we did of our actual home.  

Quote of the day: Few men during their lifetime come anywhere near exhausting the resources dwelling within them. There are deep wells of strength that are never used. Richard E. Byrd

This afternoon we met up with my dad's long time friend, John, and his wife Phyllis. I have known John since I was in high school. So one could say, I grew up with John as we would get together with him for dinner every Friday when I was in high school. He was practically part of our family. Now my parents continue the tradition with lunch every Friday. 

I had lunch with John and Phyllis last Friday and today. The waiter snapped a photo of us to capture the moment. I should mention however, that the restaurant is also noteworthy! 

When Mattie was alive, we use to take him to this restaurant. It was one of his favorites as they made homemade pizza. But he loved this outside terrace, and especially loved the lion head fountain on the terrace. Mattie always wanted to sit at the table right next to the lion. I can't come to this restaurant without seeing the table we used to sit at with Mattie, and remembering those times! 

It is hard to believe that a week has gone by already! Tomorrow I head back to DC. In a way being here is disorienting because the sun is always out, the weather is glorious, and everything is green. Keeping in mind that it is February. I am not sure why I am so confused, but it maybe because I don't typically come to Los Angeles in the winter time, I forgot how lovely it can be!

February 15, 2018

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in February of 2006. Mattie was three years old and in preschool. On Valentine's Day the kids exchanged cards with one another. I could have gone out and bought cards for Mattie, but I figured it would be more fun for him to create his own cards. Mattie loved art projects of all kinds. We did Valentine's Day cards for a couple of years together. But this wasn't an unusual sighting in our dining room. I literally would cover the floor with newspaper and lay out different craft projects. Mattie would always jump right in and he somehow understood that paint, glue, clay, and glitter all stayed on this drop cloth.  

Quote of the day: Sometimes you don't realize your own strength until you come face to face with your greatest weakness.Susan Gale

Last night, my parents and I went out to dinner for Valentine's Day. Typically none of us go out on this day, but since we were altogether, we did something different. The restaurant was extremely crowded. In fact, all of the local restaurants were telling us today how packed and busy they were for Valentine's Day! I had no idea. 
As I typically do, I did some plantings today in my parent's garden. Check out this glorious purple daisy! It's electric. It was in the 80's today! Absolutely glorious weather. I have not had one grey or cold day yet. Night and day difference from Washington, DC! 
A lovely white daisy! It is truly remarkable that people are out and about and we are surrounded by greenery. While DC is most likely dealing with its typical grayness or raining. 

My last day is tomorrow! I have to prepare myself for the weather that will hit me on Saturday.