Tonight's picture was taken in Boston during September of 2007. Mattie was five years old and he was surrounded by his cousins. Sydney was 9, Nat was 10, and Will was 6. I decided to post this picture so you could compare it to what Mattie's cousins look like today (see picture below).
Quote of the day: Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live. ~ Norman Cousins
Cousins' quote caught my attention and my feelings. In many ways, today was a very difficult day emotionally. It affected Peter and I differently, but the end result was we were both upset. As Cousins' wrote, death may NOT be the greatest loss, however, I do think that Mattie's death has impacted us tremendously and therefore affects what's inside of us. "What dies inside us while we live" is SO well stated. Mattie's cancer has killed many things within us and some days it is easier than others to navigate through these feelings. Today wasn't one of those days. On a day like today, the reality of our situation, the reflection upon Mattie's battle, and the prospect of a future like this is daunting and all too much.
We began our day by having breakfast with Peter's brother, sister-in-law, and our two nephews and our niece who were in town from Boston. As you can see from the picture above, Sydney (13), Nat (14), and Will (10) have gotten four years older! It is a beautiful picture we captured today of the three children, and I assure you they are as equally nice as they appear.
Later in the day, I looked at this picture and what hit me was sadness. Not sadness for these children, because they are all thriving and growing beautifully, but sadness because the fourth and youngest one, MATTIE, is missing from this picture. It is hard to see other children growing before my eyes, and yet mine will always remain seven. I will never know what he would have been like at 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, etc... It is a harsh reality, and a reality that made me turn inwards today.
I am typically a talkative person, but when I get overwhelmed with emotion, I can become mute and very tired. I spent a portion of the day by myself, until Peter came upstairs to get me and suggested we sit outside and then go for a walk. Not that the walk made me feel better, but it changed my scenery for a while.
While walking on Roosevelt Island, we were captured by the green growth and the overwhelming buzz made by the cicadas. Cicadas remind me of my maternal grandmother, because she would tell me (as a child) that their song was signaling to me that summer was coming to an end and school would be starting soon. I must admit I DISLIKED cicadas for a very long time because of her tale. Nonetheless, I included a link below to the sound of cicadas because I want you to know what our background noise was while walking. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbJjJkHkxeY
Along our walk, Peter spotted a beautiful great blue heron! That was one of many natural and peaceful sightings along our journey. The walk was a good diversion, but as we talked through dinner, we both got further upset about various aspects of our lives. Sometimes our conversations can become too painful, and therefore, we realize we have to pause them for a time, until we have regrouped to come back to them. However, the death of a child can wreak havoc on a family system, and unfortunately grief and death do not always bring friends and family closer together. Sometimes it severs them apart.