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

February 13, 2010

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Saturday, February 13, 2010

This is a first in a series of photos I will be posting while we are away that captures the activities and antics of Mattie in February 2009. It is almost hard to believe and accept that just a year ago Mattie was alive, fighting a battle of a lifetime, and yet still energetic and playing. In tonight's photo, Mattie was in the Lombardi Clinic and Jessie (one of Mattie's art therapists) was painting Mattie's foot red, while Jenny (one of Mattie's art therapists) was holding his foot up and steady. The question I imagine you asking is why was Jessie painting Mattie's foot? Some of my readers may recall that Jenny and Jessie designed a wall plaque to welcome children and their families to the fifth floor of the hospital, where the PICU unit is located. Jenny and Jessie asked Mattie if he wanted to add his hand print to this plaque. Mattie showed absolutely no interest in this endeavor, until I suggested a foot print. That caught his attention, and gladly held up "George," (his left foot) for the process. The irony is, when Mattie did this project, a part of me, even then, reflected on the fact that a part of Mattie would always be captured right outside the PICU welcoming other children to the floor. To me this remembrance is very special, and you should know that only TWO children have their prints on this plaque. One is Morgan, an adorable little baby, who put her hand print on the plaque, and the other is of course Mattie!


Poem of the day: IF ROSES GROW IN HEAVEN

If Roses grow in heaven,
Lord please pick a bunch for me,
Place them in my [son's] arms
and tell him they're from me
Tell him that I love him and miss him,
and when he turns to smile,
place a kiss upon his cheek
and hold him for awhile.
Because remembering him is easy.
I do it every day,
but there's an ache within my heart
that will never go away


I had a very difficult time sleeping last night. In fact, I am not sure if I slept at all. I am not sure why, perhaps my mind was running a mile a minute, or I was getting anxious about traveling. I am not sure. Nonetheless, as I started to get ready for our trip today, I found myself crying at home, at the airport, and on the plane. Why? Because unlike last week's trip, this week's trip signified our first family vacation since Mattie died. However, what was blatently obvious is that our key family member, Mattie, was missing. It was a very unsettling feeling to go on this trip today, and I felt guilty that Mattie wasn't with me. In addition, to these emotional feelings which were overwhelming in and of themselves, we also experienced three hours of turbulence. I was edgy coming onto the flight from not sleeping and then thinking of Mattie, and the turbulence was just what I needed to send me right over the edge. I felt badly for Peter who had to deal with my death grip for the entire flight, but his response to my apologies was that I basically had to be myself. Which is helpful because when I really am overwhelmed from motion, I literally just have to work things out on my own time. Peter and I safely landed in Puerto Rico, but because I suffer from motion sickness, I still feel as if I am moving up and down even on solid ground.

As Peter and I were landing, I handed him the camera and he took some pictures. Here is one of the photos we captured on our approach to San Juan. We traveled in clouds for the entire flight until the very end, when things became clearer. However, the plane had too much fuel on board to land, and we had to circle San Juan for about 40 minutes until we burned enough fuel to land. That was an experience, and I can still feel the circling in my head. 



We met up with my parents at the hotel, and we all had lunch together and caught up with each other. The weather is beautiful and in the 80s. Very different from the cold and snow we left behind. We had the opportunity to take an hour walk today, and I am sharing two pictures we snapped along the way. The one on the left is of my mom and I, and the one on the right is of Peter and I.
















We board the ship tomorrow afternoon, and it is my utmost attempt to try to relax and escape my daily thoughts. But it isn't easy. There are many children staying at the hotel in Puerto Rico, and this naturally only makes me see what is missing in our lives.

I would like to end tonight's posting with a message from my friend, Charlie. Charlie wrote, "Tom and I commented as we dug our way out that "snow is for the young" We no longer have any children at home and so for us it is an obstacle instead of an opportunity. Amazing how your prespective changes with children around. Although it was very cold yesterday, I think seeing the sun made a big difference for everyone and I am so glad you did get out into the fresh air and had an excursion with Ann. I've found much the same as you reported, that for the most part people were patient and kind when driving or in stores with a few exceptions. As I said, I was grateful to be able to make class yesterday and I hope to do so again today. I am a new student of yoga and meditation and it is difficult for me. I am used to "powering through" or "gutting it out" but that simply doesn't work with this just as it will not work for you with regard to dealing with your grief. It is one day at a time, taking it from wherever you are, being patient, loving and forgiving of yourself. As always when I practice, I will send my energy to you. I hold you gently in my thoughts."

February 12, 2010

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday, February 12, 2010

Tonight's picture was taken in February 2009 in the Childlife playroom at the Hospital. As I explained last night, Mattie made me a huge box filled with Valentine's cards and creations. In this picture, you can see how the box was filled to capacity. I must admit I was overwhelmed by his thoughtfulness and creativity. What became evident to me was Mattie needed the outlet to express how he felt about me. After all, Mattie understood I was caring for him around the clock, yet there was no way he could express his love and appreciation. Mainly because I was always with him! I could tell the hour he spent without me, so he could focus on this project, meant a lot to him. It certainly did to me and of course you can imagine how much these cards mean to me now. Valentine's day will not be the same this year without our Mattie in it.

Poem of the day: Snow Dreams by Charlie Brown
I am surrounded by snow
A vast blanket of shining white
I know you would have loved it
Forts, sledding and snow angels
But for me it is a blanket of silence
Unbroken with your absence
I am a parent with shattered dreams
A mother with empty arms
And a storyteller without an audience
I hold your memories to me
Almost as fiercely
As I tried to hold you here
I will always be connected to you
By the cord of mother love
Time may fade its color
But it will not lose its strength
My forever, beloved boy.

Peter reflected with me last night how much Mattie would have loved these snow storms we experienced. Peter is most likely correct! As hard as it is to believe, in the 7 years of Mattie's life, Washington, DC never had a storm with record accumulations like we had over the last two weeks. Nonetheless, with even a few inches of snow, Mattie had a ball. He attempted to make snow castles, forts, and once or twice in preschool actually went sledding. Mattie, like Peter, loved assessing the weather, and I know if Mattie were here the past few days, we would have been out in the snow digging about. It is funny how your life changes when you don't have a child in it. Having children in a way forces you out of your comfort zone. Being in the cold, is definitely out of my comfort zone. It is almost impossible to have a child and not be out in the snow, not appreciate its whiteness, coldness, and in Mattie's case its texture for building. Without Mattie in my life, the snow is just snow, or in actuality, from an adult's perspective it is an annoyance that comes with complications. I guess I miss Mattie's way of thinking about things and the world, I miss his youth, and the way his young mind worked.

After being home bound for several days, we both finally got out today! Peter went to work, and I did  some chores to get ready for our trip. Despite it being cold, I actually went on a walk today. Since I was couped up at home all those days, not only was I stir crazy, but every muscle seemed to ache. The beauty of walking as I discovered today, is I felt better as the afternoon progressed. I had the opportunity to see Ann and her family as well. As life with Ann is never boring, we were traveling down the tight streets of Old Town, Alexandria. Because the snow is piled up high everywhere, the streets are unable to handle two way traffic. For the most part, others were waiting and being courtesy. Until we came upon a big city bus. Literally if this bus could have run us off the road, it would have. It wasn't a pretty sight, and though the driver could have waited for us to clear the street, since we were in it before he was, he decided to use a scare tactic instead. Which was to come face to face with Ann's car. Naturally when a bus is coming at you, you have no other choice but to back out of the way, even if this means backing up down the street and causing congestion behind you. There are times during my days with Ann when I wonder if we bring these things on ourselves, or if this is life in general and I am just paying attention now. Somehow I don't think so, rather I think it is our teamwork that makes the mundane seem just a little more interesting.

On Saturday, Peter and I fly to San Juan, Puerto Rico. We will board the ship on Sunday. I am bringing my computer with me, and my goal is to write each day. However, being on the ocean may make internet connectivity challenging. So if you don't hear from me each night, it is only because I am unable to post the blog. Naturally as soon as I get access to the internet, I will update you. I realize my readers do not expect postings while I am away, but maintaining Mattie's blog is meaningful to me. My personal goal is to be able to write and post each day for at least a year after Mattie's death. Not that I am thinking I will feel better in a year, but I feel keeping Mattie's memory alive in this fashion is one of the greatest ways I can show my respect, honor, and love for him. Please keep us in your thoughts this week, as we try to find some peace in the aftermath of losing Mattie.  

I would like to end tonight's posting with a message from my friend, Charlie. Charlie wrote, "I thought the picture of Mattie with the valentine box was wonderful. You can see how intent he is on sharing all of his wonderful creations with you. He was an amazingly talented, creative little boy who was wonderfully nurtured by both his parents as well as the other adults who were a part of his life. I really appreciated Ariel's email as well as her essay; it is very clear that while she has a definite calling to medicine, her connection to Mattie has shaped that into a very specific, wonderful goal. I wish her all the success as she moves forward with her education; she will be a wonderful nurse practitioner. I hope you were able to get out today and have some time in the fresh air and see some of your friends who care deeply for you. I felt privileged to make it to class today and the energy of those practicing with me was amazing and helped support me through some very difficult efforts. I did need the reminder once again, that today is a day separate from both yesterday and tomorrow and that what I was able to accomplish (or what I will) is different from what I can do now. Patience is required, practice is needed and it doesn't take much to derail the process and require one to stop, refocus and reset an intention. The same is true for walking any difficult path in life. Don't give up, all of us are here to support you. I hold you gently in my thoughts. "

February 11, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tonight's picture was taken last February in the Childlife playroom of Georgetown University Hospital. Mattie worked very hard on designing Valentine's cards and other masterpieces for me. In fact, he spent over an hour with Jenny, Jessie, Linda, and several volunteers, as he diligently worked on his creations. When I was finally invited back into the playroom, Mattie surprised me with a big cardboard box, with his own Mattie designs on it. Naturally I still have the box and every valentine he created that day. When we opened the box together, the box was literally filled with hearts of all sizes and many cards. As you can see in the picture, we were admiring a heart Mattie made that had a flower attached to it! Mattie was animated that day, and the young volunteers seemed really captivated by his energy. This was the first encounter they had with Mattie, and despite the fact that he was fighting cancer, on a good day, he could be VERY, VERY charming, and VERY, VERY engaged and ON!

Poem of the day: I'M STILL HERE


Mom and Dad, please don't mourn for me
I'm still here, though you don't see.
I'm right by your side each night and day
and within your heart I long to stay.
My body is gone but I'm always near.
I'm everything you feel, see or hear.
My spirit is free, but I'll never depart
as long as you keep me alive in your heart.
I'll never wander out of your sight-
I'm the brightest star on a summer night.
I'll never be beyond your reach-
I'm the warm moist sand when you're at the beach.
I'm the colorful leaves when fall comes around
and the pure white snow that blankets the ground.
I'm the beautiful flowers of which you're so fond,
The clear cool water in a quiet pond.
I'm the first bright blossom you'll see in the spring,
The first warm raindrop that April will bring.
I'm the first ray of light when the sun starts to shine,
and you'll see that the face in the moon is mine.
When you start thinking there's no one to love you,
you can talk to me through the Lord above you.
I'll whisper my answer through the leaves on the trees,
and you'll feel my presence in the soft summer breeze.
I'm the hot salty tears that flow when you weep
and the beautiful dreams that come while you sleep.
I'm the smile you see on a friend's face.
Just look for me, Mom and Dad, I'm everyplace!


This poem, "I'm still here," caught my attention today. Mainly because as I was waking up this morning, I distinctly heard a voice saying "mama." For just that moment in time, I literally thought Mattie was calling me, until my usual reality set in. The sound seemed so real, and so child like. I can't explain it, other than I guess logically my mind is playing tricks on me. Nonetheless, a part of me very much wants to believe that Mattie does visit us and is STILL HERE.
 
The past couple of days have been hard for Peter and I. We have been home bound, surrounded by Mattie's things, and though that is challenging enough, having to sift through closets and bags is down right impossible. When we travel, we always take a particular carry on bag with us on the plane. However, we used this bag throughout Mattie's treatment days at Georgetown. As I opened this bag this afternoon, it was filled with Mattie's Legos, notebooks, crayons, a zipped bag filled with toy cars, and the list goes on. I almost wanted to zip up the bag, and say, "forget it, I can't deal with this." But I dealt with it, and naturally remembered all the times he used each of these items. I honestly don't know how I am to ever part with these items. For several days now I have been dealing with clothes and bags everywhere. In the past, in my organized state, packing was easy, but now I don't know where anything is anymore. I am sure to the reader this may seem absolutely absurd or hard to imagine. But remember, Peter and I lived our lives in the hospital for over a year. On our periodic stays at home, we were literally dumping the hundreds of things we acquired during our hospital stays. So after a year of neglect to a home, chaos insues. I am the living proof of this. I do not like living in chaos, but what is the alternative? The alternative means cleaning up everything that is MATTIE. I am not ready to do this either, and I am not sure when I will be. Fortunately I have supportive people in my life who aren't judging me for my decisions, which makes me feel less pressure about the whole thing.
 
In the midst of another home bound day, I received a delightful e-mail from a former student of mine, Ariel. Ariel is a daily blog reader and it means a lot to me that she and other students of mine continue to stay connected to me and reflect on Mattie's story. Ariel's message means a great deal to me, and it literally brightened up my day. So much so, that I asked her permission to share her e-mail with you tonight. You can find her e-mail below. In addition, Ariel also gave me permission to share the personal statement she wrote for Columbia University's admission process to nursing school. I am deeply honored that Mattie's story inspired her to study and train to be a pediatric oncology nurse.

Pediatric oncology nurses are amazing people to me. They are not only competent and capable individuals, but they are people who instill HOPE. After all, without hope there is no way you can endure the daily battles of chemotherapy and surgery. Mattie's nurses are extraordinary people who not only cared for Mattie, but cared for his whole family. I most certainly think pediatric oncology is NOT for the meek, but it does provide a real and very human way to connect with patients and their families unlike any other form of medicine I have previously experienced. Naturally I am proud of Ariel, and I am proud of her decision and her courage to want to help children as they fight the ultimate battle of their lives.
_________________________________________________

Ariel's personal statement (Ariel submitted this statement to Columbia University, where she will be getting a nurse practitioner degree, and specializing in pediatric oncology.)

I remember wearing an oversized lab coat that was severely dragging as I patrolled the corridors of the busy medical office. With clipboard in hand, and nametag proudly displayed on my chest, I felt that I was ready to prescribe medication and handle any situation that a patient might need help with. Unfortunately, I was only ten years old.


“Take your daughter to work day” was always one of my favorite days of the year because my father is a doctor and my mother is a nurse. The idea of making people better was a captivating one for me, even as a small child. Whenever any of my childhood friends had anything wrong with them, I would always be there, diagnosing their cases and trying to make them feel better. Whether it is something that I learned, or the genetic link to my parents, I have always felt a need to try to help people. When I was old enough to seriously contemplate what my future plans would be, I knew they would be in the medical field, with direct patient care. I needed to see an immediate impact with my work. Each of my parents had their own opinion as to whether I should become a doctor or a nurse, but I knew that they would support any decision that I made.

I found the perfect happy medium between the two professions. I want to become a nurse practitioner. I chose nursing because I felt that nurses have more of a hands-on relationship with their patients than doctors. Additionally, I want to pursue my nursing education to its fullest potential. As a nurse practitioner, I will be able to share in some of the doctor’s responsibilities, such as management of patient care.

Ever since I knew I wanted to enter the medical profession, I knew that I wanted to be in the pediatric field, as I have always loved working with children. When I was young, I did a lot of community service, which continued throughout high school and college. When volunteering, I always chose to donate my time to organizations that were geared towards helping children. During my time volunteering at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, I became interested in pursuing a career working with pediatric cancer patients.

I became sure about this decision after following my professor’s blog that detailed her son’s thirteen-month fight against osteosarcoma. Mattie was a 7 year old who passed away from this horrible disease in September 2009 and his mom, Vicki, gave daily updates describing their very difficult journey. Vicki frequently talked about Mattie’s nurses and how wonderful they were. It was clear from reading her entries that Mattie truly loved his nurses and that they were a vital part of his fight against cancer. They truly cared about him and helped make his frequent stays in the hospital as tolerable as they could be. After reading about his wonderful nurses, I decided that I wanted to be able to help children like Mattie. People often question my desire to become a pediatric oncology nurse practitioner, telling me how sad and difficult it will be. While I do not expect it to be easy, I do know that it would be extremely rewarding to be able to help make children’s battles against cancer, like Mattie’s, more bearable. Additionally, I know that I possess the compassion necessary to be successful in the field. As a pediatric oncology nurse practitioner, I intend to work in a hospital caring for sick children and helping to make them the healthy and happy children they deserve to be.

It is not often that people go into the profession that they dreamed of as a child. I was fortunate to have supportive parents and an opportunity for a great education, but I have also worked very hard to pursue my goals. I plan on continuing my education and I look forward to applying what I have learned and using it to help others.
___________________________________________

I would like to end tonight's posting with two messages. The first message is from my friend, Charlie. Charlie wrote, "I hope today was a productive day for you. I like many others, was overtaken by cabin fever and managed to escape the house for a while. I know that every time you open a closet or pull out a suitcase you uncover memories of these last two years. I do hope you got out today and spent some time with friends; as I've said before being housebound with grief for company makes for very long sad days. I am glad you will be getting away for a while even though I know getting ready for the trip is a monumental task, I do think it will be worthwhile in the long run. As always I hold you gently in my thoughts."  

The second message is from one of my students, who was and still is a big Mattie supporter. Ariel wrote, "I haven't written in a little while, and just wanted to let you know that I continue to think of you every day. I am so glad you had the opportunity to go to LA for the weekend and see your parents. I'm glad Peter made it back from FL...I can't believe all this snow!! I wanted to let you know that I found out today that I got into Columbia for their Nurse Practitioner Program. I am not sure if I ever told you, but in my application essay, I spoke about Mattie, your blog and how his story inspired me to want to go into pediatric oncology. So this June, I will begin my journey to become a pediatric oncology nurse practitioner and have the opportunity to help children like Mattie. I really hope you know how instrumental you have been in my education/career path! It is because of you and the Child Development course I took with you that I am working at the World Bank Children's Center. Your class also taught me so much about children and their development which is obviously crucial to be able to work with them (both now in the school setting and in the future in the medical setting). Also, the course I took with you was my first human services course, and after the wonderful experience I had, I knew for sure that I wanted to become a major. Of course I wish more than anything that it didn't take Mattie's suffering to help me decide to go into oncology, but you have no idea how much of an impact he has had on my life, and I only met him once! Please keep me updated on the walk you are planning, as I still would love to help out in any way!! I will continue to hold you, Peter and of course Mattie in my thoughts."

February 10, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tonight's picture was taken last February in the childlife playroom of Georgetown University Hospital. Two things to note. Sitting on Mattie's wheelchair behind him, is a teddy bear. He received this teddy bear from United Airlines employees who came to visit the children at the hospital. Mattie kept the bear on his chair for that entire admission. The other object to note is the beautiful box sitting in front of Mattie. This is one of the many wonderful boxed creations Mattie made while in the hospital. Mattie was always attracted to bright and bold colors, and he decided to put stickers, pipe cleaners, and pom poms on this particular box. I also love the expression on Mattie's face in this picture. Almost as if he caught someone watching him and he wanted them to know he caught them!

Poem of the day: Into a World Without You by Gale Massey

The day you died a cold embrace of air swallowed me
and every drop of warm blood drained from my heart.
The words, spoken out loud, clanged like deafening bells inside my head.
Leaving me as hollow as a half remembered dream.
I ache at every sunrise, sunset and memory of you.
I thought I heard you in the other room.
It was just a curtain caught in a breeze.
I want to find you, smell your skin, touch your hair.
These things, once so real, lie beyond my reach.
I want to bend this reality to make you stand beside me again.
I cannot stop the world from turning.
Days pass from that point in time where you left us.
I cannot go and find you.
Ten thousand winds can’t carry me to where you’ve gone.
Death has a grip that is unyielding.
And time flows like a tide that will not be stayed.
This is what I understand, I am learning.
Yesterday I smiled
watching a baby take his very first step.
Into a world without you.
What passed between us lives in my bones and it is all that remains.

Just like many of our readers who live in the Washington, DC region, we were trapped at home today. As if we did not have enough snow already, we received close to another foot today. In addition to the snow there are incredible winds blowing the snow everywhere. I have lived in DC for 15 years, and I have never experienced a set of storms like this week's. As I look out our window, which faces the famous Route 66, I see NO movement. Very few cars, and certainly no buses or people walking. All we see today is snow plow after snow plow driving by. Unfortunately even with all the plowing, we can still barely see the roads. Peter is working from home today, and between conference calls, he is jumping outside to shovel our deck and walk areas. When he came back inside earlier, his whole face was wind burnt, which says something about the extreme temperatures and winds.

Since we were captured inside, I used today to be productive. I have uploaded daily pictures to the blog, so that while I am away, it will be easier for me to make postings. Only I, as the administrator of the blog, can see these photos right now, but I assure you I have compiled some wonderful photos of Mattie from February 2009, that I will be sharing with you over the course of next week. I am still trying to locate my spring and summer clothes to take on our vacation. When Mattie was ill, my level of organization went right out the window, and I have not had the desire to re-establish sanity in my home. So packing right now for me is a monumental task, which is why it will take me this entire week to get it together.

I took some pictures of the snow that I wanted to share with you. The picture on the left, shows Peter outside on our deck attempting to catch up with shoveling. The picture on the right, I snapped from Mattie's bedroom window. I think it says volumes about the snow accumulation!
























 



The picture on the left was taken from our bedroom window. It is a picture of Route 66. Unfortunately you can barely see this highway. If you can't see this major highway, you can only imagine what the side streets look like.









 

I end tonight's posting with a message from my friend, Charlie. Charlie wrote, "Well, it's another day in DC/MD/VA snow. When I looked out early this morning it looked like a blizzard. We also made it to the store yesterday (we hiked over) and all the fresh produce bins were empty as were the milk, eggs and much of the dairy sections. It looked like the pictures we used to see coming out of the USSR. People are definitely getting a little crazy from being house bound. I know this is very difficult for you; you can't get out and visit with anyone or even go for a walk, you are there with all Mattie's things and the memories they invoke; I hope you can focus on the more positive ones if possible. I can't get out to class (I have not been there for a week now) but as I practice at home I will try to find the serenity and peace in the falling snow and send it on to you. You remain as always in my thoughts."

February 9, 2010

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tuesday, February 9, 2010 -- Mattie died 22 weeks ago today (in other words 5 months ago)

Tonight's picture was taken last year around Valentine's day. Mattie was in the PICU at Georgetown University Hospital, and he was surrounded by valentine's. Ann coordinated this valentine's day project for Mattie, in which all of his classmates designed a card for him. These cards brightened up his day, and not only did he love the cards, but he was thrilled with the gigantic lollipop that one of his friend's gave him. As valentine's day is approaching, I will try to post pictures related to this day. Last year, Mattie was my valentine (or so he told me!), and on Valentine's day this year, I will post the beautiful picture that Jenny (Mattie's art therapist) took of Mattie and I at the hospital. It is a picture I deeply cherish.

Poem of the day: What Makes A Mother


I thought of you and closed my eyes
And prayed to God today
I asked "What makes a Mother?"
And I know I heard him say
A Mother has a baby
This we know is true
But, God, can you be a mother
When your baby's not with you?
Yes, you can he replied
With confidence in his voice
I give many women babies
When they leave it is not their choice
Some I send for a lifetime
And others for the day
And some I send to feel your womb
But there's no need to stay.
I just don't understand this God
I want my baby here
He took a breath
and cleared his throat
And then I saw a tear
I wish I could show you
What your child is doing today
If you could see your child smile
With other children and say
"We go to earth to learn our lessons
of love and life and fear
My mommy loved me so much
I got to come straight here
I feel so lucky to have a Mom
who had so much love for me
I learned my lessons very quickly
My Mommy set me free.
I miss my Mommy oh so much
But I visit her each day
When she goes to sleep
On her pillows where I lay
I stroke her hair and kiss her cheek
And whisper in her ear
Mommy don't be sad today
I'm your baby and I am here"
So you see my dear sweet one
Your child is okay
Your baby is here in My home
And this is where he'll stay
He'll wait for you with Me
Until your lessons are through
And on the day you come home
he'll be at the gates for you
So now you see
What makes a Mother
It's the feeling in your heart
It's the love you had so much of
Right from the very start
Though some on earth
May not realize
Until their time is done
Remember all the love you have
And know that you are
A Special Mom

Again I report another week has passed, and here we are facing one of the most challenging days of the week for me, a Tuesday. Mattie died 22 weeks ago today, or in other words, his presence has been gone for five months. I don't like counting in months, some how months seem more daunting than weeks. Or maybe, in my mind I am under some sort of false impression that as months go by this loss will be easier to accept. Forget it! The reality of the situation is just bad and no matter how many months go by, I am slowly beginning to accept the fact that though the pain may change, the PAIN will always be there. Not unlike dealing with cancer, which required a major mind set change, so does dealing with grief and loss. All my theories on how to cope with death went out the window after I lost Mattie. I have an intense understanding for grief now that really was unobtainable for me through reading or hearing about someone else's story.

A part of me can not believe that five months has slipped by already, and it seems appropriate to post tonight's poem, because I ask myself often, What Makes a Mother? Mothers are very much defined by their daily roles and activities, and yet for me, all these things are non-existent now. I try to reflect on the sentiments expressed in this poem, in that being a mother is "the feeling in your heart, it's the love you had so much of." However, at the end of the day, this feeling in my heart and the love I knew I had doesn't seem to quell the longing I have for Mattie back in my life.

Peter was working from home today, because Washington, DC appears to be in a shutdown mode from the snow. Tonight it is snowing more, and I can only imagine how this will further paralyze the Capital region! I went grocery shopping today, and it was a complete experience. For those of you living outside the Washington, DC area, you may not be aware of the panic that sets in when it snows in DC. The main problem with DC is that when there is a great deal of snow, there are NO new food deliveries made to grocery stores, because trucks can't get through on the roads. Therefore shelves and particularly milk and produce are snatched up by shoppers! The grocery store was an unbelievable sight, and I suppose if I wanted to be really funny, I would have taken out my camera and snapped pictures inside the store. It looked like the store was ravaged and there was nothing left behind. It is hard to describe unless you have seen it for yourself. In fact, seeing such devastation in a grocery store made me stop and wonder where I was today. For the most part since Mattie died, I am oblivious to events and news around me, but the store today clued me right back into reality.

After that experience, I moved onto an equally challenging event. Combing through Mattie's closet to find the luggage we would need for our upcoming trip at the end of the week. In order to get to the luggage, I had to sift passed Mattie's toys, games, and train sets. Not to mention his clothes. By the time I did that, I was ready to call it a day.

While I was in California, Charlie sent me the link to the song, "Holes in the floor of heaven." I have heard this song before, but today when I listened to it and watched the video, it gave me a better appreciation for the rain. I would love to imagine that rain comes down on us because our loved ones in heaven are thinking of us and their tears are falling through the holes in the floor of heaven. I have attached the link to the video in case you wanted to see it too.
www.tangle.com/view_video?viewkey=f1a4ec7e49f58fa77093

February 8, 2010

Monday, February 8, 2010

Monday, February 8, 2010

Tonight's picture was taken in July 2002, Mattie was around three months old. The car seat was another thing Mattie liked, however, nothing was boring about Mattie. He loved sitting in the car seat when we were actually home and NOT in the car. In fact, Mattie loved the car seat so much, that there were times I would put him in the car seat, buckle him, and put the whole thing in the crib. He HATED his crib, but loved sitting in the seat within the crib, go figure. This unfortunately did not translate to the car. Mattie pitched a fit when he was placed into his seat while sitting in the car. Car trips were almost impossible until I eventually trained Mattie to accept the motion associated with this form of transportation.


Poem of the day: Softer by Lana Golembeski

The grief lies quietly,
Beneath the surface of our souls.
It follow us around like
An unwanted shadow.
It is cunning.
It doesn’t strike like it used to.
But it strikes like a ghost;
Hidden, unseen, unpredictable.
It lies just below the surface;
Following us everywhere we go.
It never leaves us.
It does not hit like it used to;
Putting us in the fetal position.
But it is unrelenting
Gnawing at our heart and soul;
Eating at us slowly, but surely.
It shadows our very lives.
It never leaves us alone.
It constantly reminds us of our forever loss.
It is a softer grief;
But it never, ever, goes away.


This poem captures the sentiments of grief perfectly. Grief is always present, it exists or lies right below the surface of your heart and soul. It comes with you each and every day, and within each minute of every day. It is hidden, unseen, and unpredictable, yet serves as a constant reminder to me that life is not the same, nor will it ever be the same again. I will give you an example of grief's unpredictable nature because recently I experienced it twice. Yesterday, when I arrived at the Los Angeles International Airport for check in, I said good-bye to my parents, and was awaiting Ann to join me. I sat down with a ton of people around me. Yet at that moment in time, I felt very alone, and it was at that moment I began to cry. It was then (and very unexpectedly), the loss of Mattie hit me, and regardless of the setting or circumstance, I can just cry. Similarly, today I went into a hallmark store with Ann and her children. While walking around the store, I happened upon a series of picture frames. The one that caught my attention, had the following written on it, "in memory...." I looked at this frame for several minutes, and was swept away in thoughts. A picture frame stopped me in my tracks and Mattie's loss hit me again.

My flight from Los Angeles did take off yesterday. I was actually stunned that it did considering the amazing accumulation of snow that is present in Washington, DC. Nonetheless, despite the blizzard, the airports were NOT congested, and actually because there was such low volume, they were almost pleasant to be in. We landed at Dulles, in Virginia, around midnight. However, getting luggage and the ride to Ann's home was an adventure. Fortunately Ann is a Bostonian at heart, because if it were I, we wouldn't have been driving. I learned to drive in Los Angeles, so I do not have the foggiest clue of how to handle a car in the snow. As I told Ann last night, life with her is an adventure. She made the analogy of our lives to Lucy and Ethel, the fictional characters from the TV show, I Love Lucy. As soon as she mentioned this, I agreed, she is the 21st century equivalent to Lucy Ricardo, that spirited and zany red head. In the midst of a treacherous drive back to her house, we laughed about so many things from snow plows to having to open the windows because the windshield was fogging up. Needless to say, after a 4.5 hour plane trip and the adventure driving, I was thrilled that the movement stopped for us around 2am.

Peter's adventure was also an experience. He landed up driving back to Washington, DC from Florida. He couldn't get rebooked on another flight until Wednesday, and considering we are expected to get hit with another snow storm on Tuesday, Peter did not want to take any chances. He even tried getting a train ticket, but AMTRAK was sold out. Peter tells me the drive was long, and at times very trying, especially as he entered the Capital area, where even the major highways weren't well plowed or treated. He is exhausted and happy to be home.

Peter had a good time at the wedding and enjoyed seeing his friends from Arthur Andersen. In fact, tonight, Peter handed me his table place card from the wedding. It was an elegant and small envelope. Besides indicating where he would be sitting at the reception, inside was a thank you note to all the guests. On the note it said, "we are delighted that you are able to join us today. As a sign of our appreciation, we have made donations to So Others Might Eat in Washington, DC and The Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation." Needless to say I was deeply touched that a young couple who are starting their life together, would be so thoughtful and mindful at this time to make such a tribute.


I spent the day with Ann and her children, whose school was cancelled due to the snow. We worked on all sorts of projects, including Valentine's. I remember doing this activity with Mattie, and yet this seems like a lifetime ago. Peter did pick me up at Ann's house, and we are both safely home tonight.
 
I received this beautiful picture of a mourning dove from Tad today. As many of you know doves get their names from their soft, drawn-out calls that sound like laments. Some of you may recall that first time ever, in the Spring of 2009, we had a mother dove build her nest and lay her eggs in our flower basket on our deck. Despite Mattie's illness, he was very focused upon this "mama dove" and her eggs. I will never forget that sight, and at the time, I took this dove as a symbol of rebirth, and perhaps a sign that Mattie was going to get a second chance on life. However, as the dove's name implies, these birds are "mourning" doves.
In hindsight, perhaps she was foreshadowing what was ahead for us.
 
I would like to end tonight's posting with a message from my friend, Charlie. Charlie wrote, "I have to tell you I loved the pictures of the beach and the water park and of Mattie and Peter having a great time together. I am so glad you both have these wonderful memories to keep along with the pictures to help you remember. I am glad you were not here for the storm and I hope that when you fly back the flight is calm and uneventful and that you and Ann once again get to sit together. I think you are wise for staying with Ann until Peter comes back; things are pretty difficult in much of the metro area due to the snow. I hope your visit with your parents was all you hoped it would be and that the upcoming cruise is good for all of you. As I practice on my own today and look to nature for inspiration and serenity I will think about and send you my energy."

February 7, 2010

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Today's picture was taken in May 2006, at Sesame Place in Pennsylvania. Mattie loved the water park, and I particularly loved how Peter and Mattie looked like twins with their Red Sox hats!

Peter and I are scheduled to fly back to Washington, DC today. However, Peter's flight was cancelled and mine is still on time and scheduled to take off. Peter will be unable to fly back from Florida until Wednesday, so he and several of his Arthur Andersen buddies are driving from Florida to DC tonight. He tells me he is going to the beach first and will be watching the Super Bowl with friends before they start the drive. I am SO happy he is having this complete change of scenery.

I am posting my entry early because I do not know what my day will hold for me. If my flight does take off, I won't arrive into DC until midnight. Then most likely will stay at Ann's house until Peter can pick me up and take me home. Therefore, I may be out of touch electronically for a few days. Rest assured, as soon as I get access to a computer you will be hearing from me. Wish us luck as we attempt to get home under the worst weather conditions Washington, DC has seen in 90 years!