Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2006. Peter and I took Mattie out to dinner at one of his favorite Clyde's restaurants. As was typical on our dining adventures with Mattie we brought a whole bag full of things to keep him occupied throughout the meal. In front of Peter and Mattie was a puzzle. Peter and I constructed more puzzles, build more Lego structures, and re-assembled toy cars over meals than most people probably experience in a lifetime.
Quote of the day: He who is most slow in making a promise is the most faithful in the performance of it. ~ Jean-Jacques Rousseau
My dad sent me this quote today. At first glance these words may not hit you, but when you re-read it and allow them to be absorbed, you begin to understand the poignancy of this statement. Promises are a funny thing because they are so easy to make. After all, you just have to open your mouth and state something to someone. The catch of course is following through on your word and commitment. Which is why I suspect Rousseau felt that someone who ponders about whether to make a promise or not, and than slowly makes it, has every intention of keeping it. Many of us receive promises each day from others in our lives. Chances are, over time, we have learned who in our lives upholds and respects their promises and who is merely going through the motions and using words. As a child, and even as an adult, I have a memory like a steal trap. If you promise me something (a visit with a friend, a trip somewhere, etc), I will remember the promise and also whether it was delivered upon. I have a feeling my parents learned very quickly with me not to commit to things that they couldn't follow through on. I admit my expectations for others I am most close to is quite high, but it is my hope that others also see that if I commit to something or to help you, I mean it. Promises to me mean something, and I am slow to make them. So now I have to wonder if my dad sent me this quote because it in essence he saw that it captures a part of my style.
This morning I was listening to the radio while getting ready for attend a board meeting. On the radio everyone was talking about how it is Friday, and they played this annoying (from my perspective) Happy Friday song. As I was listening to this crazy song, all I could think about was how insensitive this song is. Sure to the average person today is Friday and the end of a work week. But for so many people Friday means nothing. Certainly anyone in the military would understand my philosophy! However, my brain naturally went to the pediatric units of hospitals. For families in the hospital there is NO FRIDAY! In fact, Friday is a dreaded day of the week, because the weekends are like a ghost town in most institutions. So all I could think of is that radio and most of the media have no idea about the percentage of people who work around the clock either securing freedoms or caregiving for sick family members. For all of these people there are NO Fridays!
I had a four hour long licensure board meeting today. Each month a portion of the meeting is open to the public. Today a public member came before the board to discuss his professional credential. I have been at this position for a while now, and over time I have gotten rather attuned to legitimate versus fabricated requests. Some months it is a challenge, but after each of these meetings, I always feel as if I have accomplished something and am furthering the regulation of the profession of counseling in the District of Columbia.
After my meeting, I had the opportunity to meet my friend, Sara at the National Gallery of Art. I met Sara at Mattie's preschool. Sara was Zachary's nanny. As so many of my readers know, Zachary was one of Mattie's closest friends. These boys had a very special bond and they were instantaneously attracted to each other from the first day of preschool. While at preschool, they were inseparable. They had a lot in common, and yet had some differences, but they always respected each other and defended one another. Anyone who knew Mattie, knew Zachary and vice verse. I certainly know how my life has been impacted by Mattie's cancer and death. But there are days I wonder how such a profound loss impacts the life of a young person. Sure Mattie and Zachary met each other when they were only 3 years old and their relationship ended with Mattie's death four years later, but a part of me truly believes the kind of friendship they had was unique, special, and most likely not replaceable. I will always feel a connection to Zachary and I will always wonder as he grows and matures how Mattie has affected his life and future.
At the end of Mattie's preschool experience, Sara and her husband, Jay, became pregnant with their first son, Ninja. You can see this cutie in the blue t-shirt in this picture. Ninja is truly a force. In fact, he has so much life, energy, and happiness about him that for a brief moment he reminded me of Mattie. Ninja is VERY engaging. He makes beautiful eye contact with you, listens to what you are saying, and has fascinating commentary. He was excited about the museum, seeing new things, and taking in his environment. To me these are special and unique qualities in children, and these were characteristics of my Mattie. On some level, I believe Ninja knew exactly who I was and what I lost. It was as if he was trying to connect with me and let me know that a little person could feel connected with me. He was playing games with me, and simply acting in ways that Mattie would. Naturally Ninja did not know Mattie, but the irony is when Ninja was a baby, Mattie held him. This was the ONLY baby Mattie ever held. The other cutie who is sleeping in this picture is Sara's second son, and I learned today she is expecting her third child in December.
Jay snapped a picture of Sara and I together. What you need to understand is that Sara and I spent a great deal of time together during preschool. She was Zachary's nanny, but she was ultimately my friend. I trusted her with Mattie and I appreciated her kind, gentle, and yet good judgment when it came to raising children. Each day after preschool, Mattie and Zachary would want a play date. So literally four days a week we would spend hours together after school. When you spend this much time together, you get to learn a lot about a person. I miss those days and I know Sara can't believe Mattie is gone. Yet despite his death, she is an avid blog reader and reaches out to me electronically often.
I continue to be a full range of emotions this week, and was very down this evening. In the midst of being down, I received several text messages from my friend, Tanja (Katharina's mom). She had been reading the blog and got the feeling I could use a friend. It is amazing how receiving a compassionate and understanding message can make a recipient feel! Tanja wanted to know how on earth I planted anything this week in this heat and as we chatted back and forth she stated that my gardening helps me stay connected with Mattie! I couldn't have said it better, it is a true labor of love!!! Tanja wrote several messages, but here is a compilation of several that helped me see that others do understand and have not forgotten. Tanja wrote, "While I am not living the life you do, I understand how you feel. I have kept up with the blog and every posting deeply resonates with me. You describe your feelings so well. I understand how you can feel disconnected, especially at a time when most families are spending most of their time with their children and your life is missing the essential part of who you are - a mother! I think though that many of your blog readers understand how you feel and sympathize with you. I love the pictures on the blog from your vacation. I think that Mattie showed you that he is with you all the time. Thanks to the peace and quiet of the beach you and Peter were able to sense his continued presence in your life. I appreciate the trust in me and the understanding you have! I am always in awe with how you are able to reach out to others, empathize with them and support them despite the terrible trauma you have been through and continue to live with daily. Make sure to take care of yourself and get the rest you need. Mattie and many others need you and your Foundation's work. But you must take care of yourself first!