MATTIE MIRACLE VIRTUAL WALK WAS AN $110,000 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: 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

January 2, 2010

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Tonight's picture was taken in August 2003, when Mattie was over a year old. We took Mattie to Los Angeles to visit my parents, and he loved their piano. He loved hearing himself play, and Peter was great at encouraging and helping Mattie reach the keys.

Poem of the day: I Want You To Know
A brief moment of darkness
was all that I knew,
before Heaven's Gate
came into my view.
Loved ones and friends
I had missed for many years,
welcomed me with open arms
and many happy tears.
All the hurt, fear and pain
that I have ever known,
is gone from my life,
I am finally home.
I gazed upon the Lord's
sweet smiling face,
and for the first time in my life
I knew and felt His grace.
I know that you miss me,
but please dry your eyes.
I will always be watching and loving you
from my home in the sky.
A cool breeze on your face,
a touch of light rain,
I will send as a reminder
that we will be reunited again.
Life on earth is but one
brief moment in time,
I am finally home,
Eternity is mine.

I finally made it out of our home today, after being quite ill for two days. I am not 100%, but certainly much better, and felt the need to escape the isolation of being stuck in bed. Ann invited me to her daughter, Abigail's ice skating show. When I got to the ice rink, a young woman came up to me and said hello, and said she was thrilled that I was up and about. My mind doesn't always think so clearly anymore, and it took me a few minutes to understand who I was talking to. It was Betsy, one of my former students. Betsy introduced me to her three children. When I taught Betsy she was pregnant with her first child. Betsy is a faithful blog reader and writes to me often. Betsy is a fine example of the loyal and talented students I have worked with over the years. This is the ONE aspect of teaching I miss. I miss my students, I may have been their professor, but through them I gained great insights, perspective, and the inspiration to always learn more.

Ann's daughter, Abigail, and Charlotte are taking ice skating lessons together, and they performed an adorable ice skit to the song, "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer." As many of my faithful blog readers know, Mattie was VERY fond of Abigail and Charlotte. In fact, he talked about marrying both of these girls, which always made me laugh, mainly because when I was age 7, I never thought in those terms. Sometimes seeing Abigail or Charlotte takes me back to my times with Mattie. His feelings about them always surface in my head, but I assure you seeing these girls together can be overwhelming. Prior to the show today, Abigail and Charlotte took several pictures together. Though I was present and could witness the picture taking, I just couldn't watch that dynamic. It was just too painful, and landed up with tears in my eyes. It was too painful because Mattie would have loved to be present at this event supporting both of his good friends. In fact, toward the end of Mattie's life, he asked me many questions about whether it was possible to love more than one person. Meaning that he felt guilty for liking Abigail, when his first "love" was Charlotte. This may sound like a cute dialog, but Mattie wasn't trying to be cute. He was very serious, because in his mind he wanted to do the right thing, and be a good friend to both of these girls.

Abigail and Charlotte performed in front of 100s of people today and they did a great job. Not one mistake! They were smiling, and looked like they were having a good time. It was a joy to watch! I, as an observer, get great joy at watching skaters who appear to be dynamic and enjoy what they are doing. Sure it is nice to be technically accurate, but that really doesn't always touch my heart. I react to the emotions and energy expressed by the skaters. It was wonderful to see all these youngsters performing today, but like I said to Ann by the time this was over, I had my fill of children for the day. In a way, it can be a reminder of what I have lost in my life.

Abigail, Ann, and I went out after the show. Abigail and I have our running joke about the weather. She thinks it is warm, and I feel it is absolutely frigid. To show me just how warm she was, she had an ice cream cone. I had great fun with that, and she had great fun telling me that it was the right weather to eat an ice cream cone. I found it particularly interesting that Abigail wanted ONLY vanilla ice cream today. This may not sound unusual, but from my observation Abigail is like me, we are chocolate people. But there are times when I think Abigail makes certain choices that purposefully acknowledge her friend, Mattie. She knew Mattie was a "vanilla person," as he referred to himself. I couldn't help but feel as if Mattie was with us in spirit today, as Abigail ate the ice cream.

This evening, Peter and I had the opportunity to watch two cute little girls, so their mom could visit their dad in the hospital. We met this family a while back through Resurrection Children's Center, and then got to know them from their active roles on Team Mattie. It gave us a great deal of pleasure to be able to help this family. I unfortunately have never had the opportunity to spend much time with these children before tonight, so I was unsure how comfortable they would actually feel with me. But within 30 minutes, I could see we were going to get along just fine. They were delightful to play with and I enjoyed watching them paint and create! At one point tonight, one of the children, Abbie, asked to play the board game Sorry with me. This was one of Mattie's favorite games. I am an EXPERT at losing this game, so playing with me can be almost funny! However, unlike Mattie, who couldn't wait to sock it to me, Abbie's reaction was different. In fact, she really wanted to try to help me get further along than where I was in the game. At one point, she refused to move her last playing piece "home," (which is the object of the game), until I improved my chances of winning. I found her support and empathy very touching! However, in the end, as I lost miserably and she won, I could see the look of happiness on her face. A look I was very familiar with, from my dear Mattie. The game of Sorry brought back happy and fun memories, and I had a good time playing with Abbie tonight. Abbie also introduced me to other games, and we had a good time chatting with each other. I left this evening with a special feeling. The feeling was.... yes I am no longer a mom to Mattie technically, but Mattie taught me how to be a mom, and these skills haven't died. I learned from the best! I am sure others could have told me this, but I needed to experience and feel it for myself.

I would like to end tonight's posting with a message from my friend, Charlie. Charlie wrote, "I am sorry that you continue to be ill. I've read that grief impacts not only your emotional well being but physical as well and that those who are in intense grief have lowered resistance to illness, in fact their systems resemble those who are suffering from immune disorders. It is hard for those who are not in that place to understand how much grief and sadness impact every aspect of your life. As you said in your blog for New Year's we do tend to set markers by our children; often we remember what happened in a given year by where a child was in school or what skill he or she mastered. Although it is certainly no substitute, I am glad you and Peter are involved in helping out others who helped you and I hope the foundation proves to be something of a "marker" for you as time goes on. As I started my practice in the New Year yesterday and the teacher asked us to dedicate our energy to a worthwhile cause, I dedicate it to you and the foundation and I pray it becomes all that you hope it will be."

January 1, 2010

Friday, January 1, 2010


Friday, January 1, 2010

Tonight's picture was taken in November 2003. Mattie was one and a half years old. We were visiting Peter's parents in Boston and they gave him a Hokey Pokey Elmo doll. Elmo was Mattie's favorite Sesame Street character. Most likely because he was RED, but also because he was an active character on the show with a cute voice. Needless to say, this battery powered Elmo toy was a hit. Mattie was truly overjoyed to see that Elmo could sing and dance right in front of him. In fact, it did the hokey pokey! The picture, I believe, captured Mattie's look of fascination! I can't tell you how many times we did the hokey pokey that day! Needless to say, Elmo can still be found in Mattie's room today! 

Poem of the day: NATIVE AMERICAN PRAYER

I give you this one thought to keep -
I am with you still - I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift, uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not think of me as gone -
I am with you still - in each new dawn

As tonight's prayer indicates, I do hope that Mattie's presence is felt in the stars that shine, the snow that falls, the wind that blows, and whatever other form of nature that surrounds us in any given day. In fact, before Mattie's death, I am not sure I appreciated these forms of beauty around me as much. But now I not only appreciate these aspects of nature, I embrace them, because at times I view them as signs from Mattie.

In years past, Peter and I always would watch the ball drop in Times Square on New Year's eve. Last night, was the first time, we did not. I made a conscious effort to completely tune the day out, and I carried this attitude into the evening. To me seeing the ball drop, marks some sort of end of one year, and the beginning of another. Not sure if it really does, or whether society has conditioned me to feel something about seeing this activity in Times Square. I realize whether I watched the process on TV or not, we have indeed crossed into another year. In fact, the way I look at it, 2008 and 2009 were horrible years. Mattie was diagnosed with cancer in July 2008, and he died in September of 2009. So good riddens to two awful years, though despite being horrific years, they did have Mattie in them. But what does 2010 hold for us? I have no idea, and that in and of itself is scary. Parents with children have some idea of what 2010 holds for you. Children in a way are a marker of time! For example, perhaps in 2010, your child will be graduating from elementary school and moving up to middle school, or perhaps your child is graduating, or applying to college. The list of things children accomplish is endless, but with this list is some predictability. For Peter and I, we no longer have our mile marker and feel instead like we are drifting somewhere out at sea on any given day... directionless. Sure we could live a much more spontaneous life now. We have no children to be accountable to. But I assure you, once you have had the direction of raising a family, being spontaneous is highly overrated. Pure and simple, we miss Mattie, and we carry that feeling into 2010, and with us for the rest of our lives.

I asked Peter what we did last year on New Year's. We were actually home from the hospital, between chemotherapy treatments, but not unlike today, I was sick. With the same bad cold symptoms. Interesting how I have physically welcomed 2009 and 2010! I continued to feel under the weather today, so I spent the entire day in bed. Peter on the other hand, visited with a Resurrection Children's Center family who we have had the pleasure of getting to know quite well over the course of Mattie's illness. They were extremely supportive of us in every way, and when we found out they needed some help with their children because of a family illness, Peter and I volunteered. I did not want to make the girls sick, so Peter went without me today. The girls kept Peter busy, and in many ways busy and being needed are two important factors to experience when grieving. I am happy that Peter and the girls got along so well today, and hopefully if I feel better tomorrow, I too can help out. Peter and I both agree on is the importance of giving back and being there for those who were so instrumental in supporting Team Mattie. Team Mattie and those who comprise it will always, always hold a special place in our hearts.
  
When I lived in Southern California during my high school years, I was introduced to the beauty of the Rose Parade in Pasadena. Every New Year's we would go and visit the beautiful floats on display once the parade was over. I have always loved flowers, and the Rose Parade is a flower lover's paradise. The creativity and beauty are remarkable. I caught part of the parade today on TV, and two things came to mind. First, how wonderful it must be to be outside in the beautiful Los Angeles weather (since it is freezing in Washington, DC), and second, I was saddened that Mattie never got to see these amazing floats. He would have loved the whole parade, from the flowers to the mechanics of getting these floats to move down the streets of Pasadena.

However you spent your day today, Peter and I want to wish you and your families all the best of health and happiness in 2010. Your continued support means a great deal to us. I would like to end tonight's posting with a message from my friend, Charlie. Charlie wrote, "I loved your Mom's story about the best Christmas ever (2007) and I can definitely see Mattie checking out all the possibilities for Santa's delivery of gifts on Christmas. It is so Mattie to want to make sure all the important points were covered; Christmas tree, recognizable place, notification of a change of address for Mattie and so on. With all of his attention to detail and his creativity I thought he would grow up to be an engineer or a scientist of some sort. I heard "who you'd be today" last night and once again it made me think of Mattie and all the possibilities we all lost with his death. As we start 2010, a year without Mattie, know that many of us are bringing his memories into this new year along with you. I hold you gently in my thoughts."

December 31, 2009

Thursday, December 31, 2009


Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tonight's picture was taken on Christmas day in 2007. Mattie was staying in a hotel room with us in Florida. We went on a family Christmas trip with my parents in 2007, and once you read my mom's story below, the picture will make more sense. Needless to say, take notice of Mattie's Christmas tree here. It was actually made out of green feathers (it reminded me of something out of a Dr. Seuss book), and the ornaments, we hand made out of construction paper. This tree was so unique that I packed it in our luggage as a remembrance of Christmas 2007, and I still have it on display in Mattie's bedroom.

Poem of the day: New Year's Poem by Agnes Marshall


Angels in heaven whisper
a new year dawns today
for all our heartbroken loved ones on earth
where we couldn't stay
we'll celebrate here in heaven
sending many blessings down
to the ones who gave all to love us
without any regrets or frowns
blessings to all we left behind
to us angels you were the special kind


On behalf of Peter and I, we want to wish our readers a very happy and healthy 2010. We are grateful for your continued support and for tuning into the blog and our Foundation website. As I am sure you can imagine, today is a very bittersweet day for us. In fact, New Year's may be just as hard as Christmas. In addition to how I am emotionally doing, I am also physically wiped out. Peter met me for lunch today, and what I quickly could assess was I wasn't hungry, couldn't hold my head up, and felt like I had a fever. So instead of visiting Mary, Ann's mom, and attending her New Year's party at her assisted living facility, I decided to go back to bed. I have been in bed all afternoon, and still do not feel much better. Thankfully Dr. Bob came to the rescue again and I am back on antibiotics.

As my energy level is low, I am very grateful that my mom wrote the second part of "The Best Christmas Ever" so that I could share it with you tonight. I hope you enjoy this story as much as we did. I think it gives you some perspective into Mattie's character, energy, and sweetness.
__________________________________________________

The Best Christmas Ever


Part II

By Virginia R. Sardi

Mattie loved Christmas and looked forward, like any child, to all the preparations made for the anticipated festivities of the holiday season. The simple activity of counting off the days until Christmas on his Advent Calendar generated an excitement all its own because he could visually see how close he was getting to Christmas Day by counting how many windows remained unopened on his calendar knowing that when they were all opened, it would signify that Christmas Day had arrived with all the promises it held of unexpected treats and surprises. Mattie was taught at SSSAS the religious significance of Christmas and knew that no Christmas was complete without a Nativity scene depicting the birth of Christ. He understood its importance and was happy to have both a Nativity scene and a beautiful Christmas tree in his house to celebrate the holiday. Mattie’s creativity knew no bounds for he with the help of his Dad created a colorful display of beautiful lights on trees and bushes in the private park like area outside his apartment that all of his neighbors came to admire every year. They looked forward to it as an event that marked the season of Christmas and it became a community tradition to be appreciated by all who lived there. Here was a little boy who really understood what it meant to have Christmas spirit and knew instinctively how to share it with others.

How could he not love Christmas when the world suddenly turned red, his favorite color, and was everywhere he turned? How could he not love Christmas when it fired up his imagination with so many exciting ideas? The possibilities seemed endless and kept Mattie’s fingers and mind whirling around in search of eye catching and mind stimulating ideas to incorporate into his holiday art work. Christmas symbolism seemed embedded in his DNA and made all the fun things of Christmas like jingle bells, snowflakes and sugar plum fairies so natural for him to love. You could be sure his mind was working overtime wondering what Santa was up to in the North Pole and whether he would have something special in his sleigh for Mattie at Christmas as he playfully greeted you with a jolly Santa like ho-ho-ho and awaited that special visit from Santa himself!

However, Christmas 2007 was to be a little different. He would be celebrating Christmas Day with his family in Boca Raton, Florida. He liked the idea but had a major concern about Santa Claus. How would Santa Claus be able to bring him his gifts if he was in Florida at a hotel? Mattie, being the precocious little boy that he was, worried that Santa Claus would not find him in Florida on Christmas Day. It was a very logical question under the circumstances and required serious consideration because Mattie did not want to miss out on a visit from Santa. His mom addressed the matter by explaining that she wrote to Santa Claus informing him where Mattie would be at Christmas and assured Mattie there would be no mix-up in Santa’s deliveries. After a few probing questions about how Santa processed his mail, he was satisfied that Santa would find him in Boca Raton and deliver his presents to the hotel. He then thought about another sticky problem that could trip up Santa. Mattie noticed that even though the lobby of the hotel had a large beautifully decorated Christmas tree, it was not a good place for Santa to leave his presents since it was located in a public place. He had a point! He concluded that the best place for Santa to leave his presents would be in his hotel room but that presented a problem too! There was no Christmas tree in his room for Santa to find and he was troubled that Santa might not leave presents without one. To resolve that issue, we all agreed that he needed a Christmas tree for his room so that Santa would know where to leave his presents. Mattie was taking no chances that Santa would have any excuses to forget him on Christmas Day! In listening to him articulate his concerns about Santa and his presents, I was impressed with the logic of his arguments and thought that he would have made an excellent lawyer given how logical he was in presenting his case. We had a couple of days to find a tree but since we were so close to Christmas we knew our chances of finding a good tree were not good. There was only one place to go to get a Christmas tree that was practical for our purposes that would also pass muster with Mattie. We headed right for Target and there we found and purchased the perfect Christmas tree for the occasion. It was approximately 12 to 18 inches tall and made with beautiful man-made emerald green feathers. It had its own base and Mattie thought it was pretty cool as he had never seen anything like it before. Neither had we! We decorated it with some colorful Christmas ornaments and added some tinsel and Mattie was delighted with the result. Mattie was now content that he had a tree in his room an observed that this room had a balcony, just like he had at home and figured that Santa would see the connection right away. Mattie understood that Santa would come only when he was sleeping. He was told that Santa could not be disturbed when he distributed his gifts to children because otherwise he might not get to everybody on his list. Mattie intended to fully comply because he was not taking any chances that he might upset Santa’s routine and miss out on getting his presents. As I noted before, he was a cautious little fellow who based his actions on the stories of Santa’s legendary love of children and his annual Christmas visit with his sled and reindeer to bring toys to children all over the world. In his mind, he found the perfect solution to get Santa to deliver his presents to him in Florida on Christmas Eve using a logic that could only be seen through the eyes of an impressionable and imaginative five year old who believed in the magic of Christmas.

Is it any wonder that Christmas morning was a joyful experience for Mattie and turned out to be everything he hoped for? It was an unforgettable experience for us to watch him bursting with happiness and laughing with delight as he opened all his presents. Just looking at his smiling face was our reward for participating behind the scenes as Santa’s helpers orchestrating the timely arrival of his presents from Washington, DC and Los Angeles, California to Florida so that they could be under the tree for Mattie to discover on Christmas morning. The tree may have been an artificial pretender but Mattie’s joy was very real and is a timeless remembrance for us of the beauty and purity of his childhood innocence that will remain a lasting memory of happier times. When I think of Mattie’s angelic face aglow with pure happiness on that beautiful Christmas morning in Florida, I can say with certainty that this was the Best Christmas Ever!

________________________________________________

I would like to end tonight's posting with two messages. The first message is from my mom. She wrote, "Have you ever heard the phrase, “Once in a blue moon?” It usually refers to an event that one does not expect to occur very often. It might be of interest for you to know that December 2009 is just such a month, a month of the Blue Moon. It means that the there are two full moons in one month, the second one is called the Blue Moon. This event happens approximately every two to three years. The first one has already appeared this month and the next one will take place on New Year's Eve, December 31st, I will be looking for the Blue Moon Thursday night, and I hope you will too for it is always exciting to gaze upon, “Mattie Moon” as he lights up our world twice in one month."

The second message is from my friend, Charlie. Charlie wrote, "Thank you for sharing about Mattie's early days; it explains a lot about his very close bond with you and Peter. How wonderful that you found a place like RCC and a teacher like Margaret who helped Mattie open and blossom into the boy he was meant to be. It is terribly frustrating when you cannot communicate; I've seen that reaction in deaf children who have not been taught to sign, in autistic children who haven't found a way to communicate and even in aphasic adults who've lost the ability to speak. We forget we are programmed to be social beings and when we cannot, things go very wrong for us. As always I admire your patience and determination to do the right things as difficult as they may be on behalf of those you love. As we go forward into this new year, I will take Mattie memories with me. I hold you gently in my thoughts."

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tonight's picture was taken in January of 2003. Mattie was 9 months old and full of energy. Mattie was a late walker, and never crawled. But the one thing he absolutely loved was this walker that made all sorts of car sounds. He loved the freedom these wheels gave him. I remember taking this picture of Mattie. I particularly loved his impish look that he would give me, and that beautiful smile. It is hard to understand or rationalize what happened to him, when I look at this healthy baby picture.

Poem of the day: Along Grief's Journey - Ferna Lary Mills

I hear little children laughing
and the sound brings my soul such pain.
Yet I know in my heart that life goes on
and I must learn to live again.
Some days I stay so busy
I don't even realize you're gone.
Then there are all of those other days when
I feel like I can't go on.
Sometimes I think I dreamed you . . .
that you never existed for real.
You've been gone so long and I'm just not strong
for my life has become surreal.
They tell me it's time to let go
and build a new life without you.
But the builder is weak and I can't even speak
and I don't know what else to do.
How long will this pain last, Lord?
How many tears have I already cried?
It seems like forever since my world fell apart
when my loved one died.

As Peter and I looked up at the sky tonight, we noticed "Mattie Moon" looking down on us. We were talking but stopped to pause in conversation after seeing the moon. Naturally we both immediately thought of Mattie. I value these symbols in nature, and certainly turn to them for comfort and reassurance, but some days, even these are not enough for me. I rather just have Mattie. I understand the sentiments expressed in this poem. For seven years I was a mom, but now as I attempt to live my life without Mattie, I struggle to understand my identity, and often wonder if I am now simply living another existence. I know I did not dream up the essence of Mattie, he really was part of my life, but as time moves forward, and with each day he is not in my life, I am left questioning what is my reality. Therefore approaching a New Year, in my world view is daunting and depressing. Depressing because 2010 will be a year that is completely Mattie free. A year that never experienced Mattie, a year where there will be no possible new memories of Mattie to be made.

I had the opportunity to have tea with Margaret at her home this afternoon. As many of my readers know, Margaret was Mattie's first preschool teacher. When we came to Resurrection Children's Center, Mattie and I were both in a fragile place. Mattie was a challenging baby and toddler, and challenging is most likely putting it mildly. Mattie had many sensory issues, and was also a late walker and talker. He experienced great frustrations because he couldn't communicate. Naturally, as with any of us, when we can't express ourselves, these feelings come out in different ways. With a toddler it was through biting, kicking, and hitting. Mattie wasn't selective and would do this with anyone. Mattie and I spent the first two years of his life pretty much isolated from other children. Not that I did not try to pair him up with other children, I did, but most parents did not understand Mattie and truly disliked his behaviors. Needless to say, parenting Mattie was a humbling, very humbling process. I spent a great deal of time worrying about Mattie, and trying to figure out how to help him. I am telling you this because I want you to understand that in many ways, Peter and I did not have the typical parenting experience right from the start. You may want to dismiss what I am telling you, because you are chalking it up to us being new parents. But I assure you, I had many professionals weigh in on our situation. The one consistent thing that was always true, was we believed in Mattie. I never gave up hope on him, and knew he had great potential. The ironic thing is because of Mattie's initial issues, it forced us to spend hours together alone. It was through this intense time together, that we developed a very tight and special bond, a bond that enabled us to function very well together through cancer. Unlike some other children I saw in treatment turn against their parents, Mattie never did. He trusted us, and I deeply believe he did because of the trials and tribulations we experienced in his toddler years. These issues were just the testing ground for what was to come later. Mattie was the love of my life, and I assure you, if I love you, I will fight to the end for you, and I know on some level Mattie understood this about me.

This brings me to Resurrection Children's Center. When Margaret met Mattie and I, she knew that I had many concerns about Mattie's social development. However, Margaret was the teacher that turned everything around for us. Mattie was nurtured in the classroom in a positive manner, and the year he had with Margaret was a year of amazing growth and development. Mattie developed friends and like a wilting flower given water, Mattie started to blossom. But Margaret wasn't only good for Mattie, she was good for me. This preschool solidified my true feelings about Mattie, and it supported me as a parent. This is something I shall never forget, and most likely one of the many reasons Margaret will always have a special place in my heart. For once, I saw an outsider who understood and appreciated Mattie. It opened up a whole new world for him, and it was wonderful to see him thriving.

Each time I interact with Margaret, I can't help but explore these feeling. Mattie had two of the most positive years of his life in preschool. Margaret gave me a beautiful gift today. She knows that I like collecting angels, and she gave me a little boy angel. The little boy reminds me of Mattie, and he is holding a frog. Something Mattie would have most likely wanted to scare me with. Any case, this little boy angel has joined my other angels on my kitchen windowsill, and each time I look at him, I will be thinking of Mattie.

Later tonight, I went to visit Mary, Ann's mom. After dinner Mary wanted some fresh fruit, but the kitchen staff at her assisted living facility refused to listen to her request. By that time Ann was also visiting, and the two of us were arguing with a chef who clearly has no idea what it is like to live in an institutional setting. His insensitivity to Mary's request was astonishing, and I told him I hope in his life time he never lands up in such an institution where he has to fight just to get a bowl of fruit. He clearly doesn't understand the lack of control these older adults live with each day, and the one thing they may perhaps have an ounce of control over, what they eat, he is denying them. Fascinating and disheartening!

Peter and I went out to dinner tonight with Ann and Bob, and some friends of theirs. It was a lovely dinner, but I am very well aware of the inner turmoil inside my head. I try not to let this affect others, but I do know my limitations. I know that there is no possible way I am celebrating New Year's eve at a party. To me there is nothing to celebrate, and this dull feeling is how I wake up and end each day. Going to a party or being around people who are happy, makes me further depressed. Another sad commentary about myself. I want others to be happy and for good things to happen to them in their lives, yet, I am conflicted because I don't feel this way, nor do foresee such happiness in my own life. These feelings further isolate me from others.

I would like to end tonight's posting with a message from my friend, Charlie. Charlie wrote, "It is hard to believe it has been 16 weeks since Mattie died. In some ways it seems like yesterday and yet it seems much longer that he's been gone. I thank you for meeting me for lunch yesterday; it was good to see you in person but it is clear that while you certainly look put "together" on the outside; on the inside you are clearly hurting. It was very kind of you to continue to make the trip to be with Mary in spite of how of you were feeling. I know that all the older adults you interacted with appreciated having you around. It is too bad that none of them have family who can spend more time with them. As we approach New Years I hope that you and Peter are able to start the foundation on a road that is headed where you hope it will be."

December 29, 2009

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Tuesday, December 29, 2009 -- Mattie died 16 weeks ago today!

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2007. I love Mattie's eclectic Christmas look. With a Boston Red Sox hat and Duck boat tour whistle in his mouth! What a look, but a priceless one that I am happy I captured.


Poem of the day: "My Sunshine" - Gayla Hansen

With you I bury my hopes and
dreams for all the days we'll never see
But I also bury the love in my heart
and the sadness of knowing
that we must part.
And I pray to God to do for you
all the things I would like to do.
And to keep my baby safe from harm,
to laugh and frolic in springtime's arms.
For now, everytime I see the sun,
I watch you smile as you run.
Laughing, smiling, running, playing
.... missing you.
Momma loves you baby

A part of me can not believe that Mattie died 16 weeks ago today. In fact, as January approaches, Mattie will be gone from our lives for four months, and I can tell you I feel no better now than I did on September 8, the day Mattie died. As time drifts by us, the reality of Mattie's death only sets deeper within our minds, hearts, and spirit. Time does NOT heal all wounds, and I am only further convinced that this saying was created and promoted by others who clearly have never experienced a traumatic loss. I have a hard enough time functioning on any given day, and yet tonight, as I spoke with Peter over dinner, I find I am in awe of how he has to keep it together in order to function at work. As I said to him, in many ways he has NO CHOICE. None the less, while he has no choice, he has given me the opportunity to have a choice. To feel however I want or need to feel on any given day. This doesn't mean that Peter isn't grieving, it doesn't mean that he isn't feeling the same way I do on any given day, but it means that out of commitment to his company and his love for our relationship, he gets up each day and really does the impossible. The impossible is to go to work, earn a living, and be a valuable part of his team, while in all reality his heart is breaking. I don't mention Peter often on the blog, but despite the tragedy we are living through and the hardship it has placed on our marriage, I am very aware of his continued love, and if I have any doubts, I just look at what he attempts to accomplish on any given day.

I woke up this morning feeling just as bad as when I went to sleep. I have a bad cold, and just did not feel like moving out of bed. However, I had made lunch plans to see Charlie, so that got me up and moving. As many of you know Charlie e-mails me daily, but today we broke free from our electronic dialog and actually met face to face. We talked about a whole bunch of topics at lunch, and the one thing that seems crystal clear to me, as I say on a daily basis, is no amount of talking about Mattie's loss makes me feel any better. That is because for the first time in my life, I have come face to face with a problem that can't be fixed. Mattie can't come back to life, which at this point is the only thing that would make me feel better and take away the pain. It is a sobering reality to accept the fact that things are out of my control, that some pain isn't fixable, and that I have no idea what goals I want to achieve or will make me happy. All the things I thought I wanted to achieve before to Mattie's illness NO longer matter to me, almost as if I am a completely different person now.

Later this afternoon, I went to visit Mary, Ann's mom. Mary is fighting off a cold too, so the both of us are a sight. Mary's dinner table mates are getting used to me sitting with them, and I have enjoyed hearing their stories, and of course helping them as well. It saddens me though to see many of these older adults sitting together at tables and not saying a word to each other. Somehow my presence inspires them. Not because it is me, but because I am perceived as young, an outsider, and bringing in a fresh perspective. As I land up talking to one of Mary's table mates, I pull in the other two into the conversation. Mental stimulation is vital for these older adults, and sometimes just showing you care about them, inspires them to talk and to re-engage. So in essence spending these last four evenings with Mary has been very enlightening to me about the human spirit, and the huge impact a smile or human touch can do for older adults.

I would like to end tonight's posting with two messages. The first message if from Mattie's oncologist and our friend, Dr. Kristen Snyder. Kristen wrote, "Another Tuesday has arrived. They seem to come faster and faster. Part of me wonders if you feel the same. But I think of Mattie as if it were yesterday. Vividly remembering his spunk, his character, his charisma. I will take those thoughts of your Mattie into the New Year. Thinking of you, on Tuesday and always."

The second message is from my friend, Charlie. Charlie wrote, "How difficult it must be to get up and do what you need to do when you don't feel well at all. I hope that you get over the cold or whatever you seem to have caught as it will take even more of your needed energy away. I know that Ann appreciates that you are seeing Mary each day while she is gone; what a lovely gift you are giving her in return for all that she has done for you over this year and a half. I know that Mary appreciates it as well; I am sure she is lonely without her husband and now with her daughter and her family away for a break. I just want you to know I think about you daily and I continue to pray for you and Peter."

December 28, 2009

Monday, December 28, 2009


Monday, December 28, 2009

Tonight's picture was taken last Christmas. Mattie was in a terrible, yet understandable, mood all day. In those low times, I actually would turn to the Team Mattie pile of gifts that I had, thanks to our many wonderful supporters. I would pull from this pile on such desperate occasions in hopes of redirecting Mattie's attention and mood. The particular gift he opened was from his preschool friend, John. John gave Mattie some fun Christmas hats and light up noses to play with. Peter and Mattie both put on a hat and a nose, and for just those short couple of minutes, Mattie's mood changed. He was funny and spirited, and made the cutiest Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
Poem of the day: A BRIDGE CALLED LOVE

It takes us back to brighter years,
to happier sunlit days
and to precious moments
that will be with us always.
And these fond recollections
are treasured in the heart
to bring us always close to those
from whom we had to part.
There is a bridge of memories
from earth to Heaven above...
It keeps our dear ones near us
It's the bridge that we call love.

Today was the kind of day where I had to wonder, why get out of bed? In fact, I most likely would have spent the day in bed if I had not promised Mary, Ann's mom, that I would visit her later in the day. I did get up this morning, but somehow after getting dressed, I felt so tired and fatigued, that I went right back into bed and watched another holiday favorite of mine, the movie Holiday Inn. As I went back into bed, our calico cat, Patches, was thoroughly confused. She works hard in the morning to get me out of bed, and there I was right back into it. However, despite being fickle (after all she is a cat) she jumped on the bed and literally came to sit on my lap. This may not sound unusual for my readers, but if you knew Patches and her personality, you would know this action is a rarity! Patches usually sticks close to me in times of crises. In fact, I distinctly remember one January, many years ago - Pre-Mattie, I was sick in bed with an 104 fever. I was practically delirious from my temperature. Patches could sense something was wrong, and stayed with me the entire time until Peter got home from work. Which is why several years ago I nick named her "nurse Patches." Her sheer presence made a difference in my recovery, because I was not alone. Similarly today, Patches sensed I needed company, and that things weren't right. What a perceptive animal friend!
As I was driving to see Mary, Ann's mom, for no apparent reason I began crying. Something about driving made me reflect on Mattie's death, the pain he was in, and the fact that I never had a two way conversation with him to say good-bye. I was driving on the highway, and with tears filling my eyes, I realized I had to pull myself together, because soon I wouldn't be able to see the road through all the tears.

When I arrived at Mary's assisted living facility, I found that Mary had company. Mattie's first preschool teacher and my friend, Margaret, was visiting. In addition, Peggy, who is a family friend of Ann's, was also visiting. So at one point, there were four women in the room chatting in a circle with each other. This type of stimulation and camaraderie are very good for Mary. I enjoyed seeing Margaret and connecting with her. She immediately understood how difficult Christmas was for me, and we reflected on the days ahead. Margaret's visit broke up the afternoon for us, and I look forward to seeing her again in a few days.

Tonight I feel as if I am developing a cold and am absolutely worn out physically and emotionally. I thank you for your continued thoughts that you send Peter and I. We need them more now than ever before. I would like to end tonight's posting with a message from my friend, Charlie. Charlie wrote, "I've read about people in grief talking about life "before" versus "life after." It seems to me that you have actually done this twice; gone from life with Mattie well, to life with cancer and now life without Mattie physically here. These are huge, horrible adjustments to have to make in the way that you live, and honestly I admire your courage in continuing to get up and go on each day. I am not sure any of us truly understands just how much energy and determination that takes. I agree with you that we have much less control over our destiny than we choose to think; what we do have is a choice on how we will behave and I can only say that I admire your determination to reach out and make things better for others in the midst of your own pain. For today I wish you the energy to keep going and doing what you believe needs to be done. I hold you gently in my thoughts."

December 27, 2009

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sunday, December 27, 2009


This picture was taken last December in the PICU of Georgetown University Hospital. Mattie loved his magnetic Santa that clipped onto his wheelchair (Thanks Alison!) and the Christmas stockings, which Mattie thought he would use to keep his feet warm. Got to love him!



Poem of the day: You Meant So Much


You meant so much to all of us
You were special and that's no lie
You brightened up the darkest day
And the cloudiest sky
Your smile alone warmed hearts
Your laugh was like music to hear
I would give absolutely anything
To have you well and standing near
Not a second passes
When you're not on our minds
Your love we will never forget
The hurt will ease in time
Many tears I have seen and cried
They have all poured out like rain
I know that you are happy now
And no longer in any pain.

When I reflect on the picture above, it somehow makes me feel as if I have lived two lives. A life as a wife and mother of Mattie, and now my current life, which feels like some sort of purgatory or holding place, until my future is decided. After battling Mattie's cancer and then losing him, I have come to the humbling realization that I no longer have control over my life. Maybe day to day decisions I have control over, but the bigger picture and the future are completely out of my hands. I once believed I had the will and determination to decide my destiny, but cancer has sobered me up to the true reality. I certainly would like to be more optimistic, but I have seen the worst life has to offer and therefore it is impossible for this not to deeply affect my lens of the world.

Peter and I spent the day doing chores, and then in the afternoon, I went to visit Mary, Ann's mom. Mary was telling me today about the various jobs she has had in the course of her lifetime and which ones were her favorites. I always loved talking to older adults, because through their stories I sit back and try to imagine what they looked like and were like when they were much younger. The beauty about talking to an older adult, is hearing about history, the way things used to be, and the sheer appreciation for verbal communication. I stayed with Mary through dinner, and because I have been going to this assisted living facility for some time now, I am getting to know many of the residents. In a way, they have become part of my community. Just saying hello to some of these older adults or holding their hands makes a tremendous difference in their day. Mary always tells me I am doing God's work. Perhaps! But after being isolated in a PICU for 13 months, I have a much greater appreciation for the need for social support. So now if I can reach out to others when they are lonely, I am happy to do it. Not everyone is as fortunate as Peter and I to have a Team Mattie. Without such a Team, we would have been COMPLETELY lost. Something I never ever forget.

I would like to end tonight's posting with two messages. The first message is from my friend, Charlie. Charlie wrote, "I know these days between Christmas and New Years are very difficult for you. Even if you were not grieving there is always that letdown after Christmas that seems to effect people and how much more so when you are grieving. I understand that it is incredibly difficult to face a year without Mattie in it; I know all of us which we could have altered the trajectory of his life so that he was still here. Perhaps in this coming year you can find a way to honor his memory each day without having it completely overwhelm you. I know that your dreams are shattered and I hope you can find something meaningful that you wish to pursue as the year goes forward. As always, be patient and kind with yourself; give yourself time and space to grieve. I hold you gently in my thoughts."

The second message is from my friend, Tanja, writing all the way from Germany. Tanja wrote, "How are you doing? I can't even imagine how hard the holidays must have been for you and Peter! I find it amazing that you have the energy to get out of bed in the morning and to do so many productive things despite constantly feeling the horrific pain and emptiness of not having Mattie in your life anymore. It is so wonderful of you to support Mary in such a kind and loving way!Today, we had lunch at a restaurant. Tyler was taking some silly pictures of Katharina with his cell phone. Of course, Katharina wanted to see the pictures. As Tyler was trying to locate the picture, he came across a picture of Mattie and you on our swing in our backyard this summer. I'm not sure if you have seen this one but it shows Mattie snuggled up in your lap, with that incredible, loving and trusting smile of his! The picture made the rounds to each of us at the table and each of us paused and reflected on Mattie for a while. I know it is not much comfort to you but Mattie is starting to affect the world - he is even remembered and cherished in Germany. Some of his pictures are also in Katharina's photo albums, which my mom puts together for us. I know that when they are shown to other people, his story will be told! Thank you for sharing Mattie's and your life with us. We all can learn so much from him, you, and Peter!"