Mattie Miracle 2021 Walk was a $125,000 success!

Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation Promotional Video

Thank you for keeping Mattie's memory alive!

Dear Mattie Blog Readers,

It means a great deal to us that you take the time to write to us and to share your thoughts, feelings, and reflections on Mattie's battle and death. Your messages are very meaningful to us and help support us through very challenging times. To you we are forever grateful. As my readers know, I promised to write the blog for a year after Mattie's death, which would mean that I could technically stop writing on September 9, 2010. However, at the moment, I feel like our journey with grief still needs to be processed and fortunately I have a willing support network still committed to reading. Therefore, the blog continues on. If I should find the need to stop writing, I assure you I will give you advanced notice. In the mean time, thank you for reading, thank you for having the courage to share this journey with us, and most importantly thank you for keeping Mattie's memory alive.

As Mattie would say, Ooga Booga (meaning, I LOVE YOU)! Vicki and Peter

The Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation celebrates its 7th anniversary!

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

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

We have only gotten this far because of people like yourself, who have supported us through thick and thin. So thank you for your continued support and caring, and remember:

.... Let's Make the Miracle Happen and Stomp Out Childhood Cancer!

A Remembrance Video of Mattie

April 30, 2011

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2007. Mattie was going to his first day of summer camp at his preschool. Before we continued on our journey that morning, I wanted to capture that moment in time. It is ironic that Mattie's preschool symbol was the sun. In November of 2008, when Mattie was invited to his art teacher's studio, they created a painting together. It turned out to be a painting which Mattie entitled, "Mr. Sun." Mattie's "Mr. Sun," is the backdrop or wallpaper of the Foundation website. In addition, the sun became the official symbol of Mattie's Foundation. A powerful symbol indeed! It seems like an appropriate choice given the radiance and strength of Mattie.

Quote of the day: The ultimate expression of generosity is not in giving of what you have, but in giving of who you are. ~ Johnnnetta Cole

My dad sent me this quote today, and as I was reading it several thoughts came to my mind. There are several volunteers who work for Mattie's Foundation who not only embrace the notion of this quote, but they also act upon it. Their actions speak volumes to us, and their dedication is appreciated. The other thought I had is despite not feeling well (a feeling I have gotten used to over the years, since several of my physical ailments are chronic in nature) I decided to pull it together and visit Mary (Ann's mom) later in the day. Mary was looking for company today, and I remember all too well, when I was trapped in the Hospital how I welcomed someone who would sit with me, chat, and help normalize my life. Not that that was possible at the time, but not going through something alone is key for me. So I have been reflecting all day on generosity being "in giving of who you are."

I spent a good portion of the day doing Foundation administrative work. While doing this I was awaiting an email from Peter telling me that he landed safely in Kenya. Peter basically flew 12 hours from Bangladesh to Kenya today and in the process told me about his traveling experiences along the way. Though traveling can be a stressful process, it sounds like he was treated very well. In fact the airlines upgraded him for free on his leg from Bangladesh to Qatar, and once he landed in Qatar, he had to run to catch his next flight. He only had a 20 minute layover between flights, which isn't long for international travel. As he boarded the plane in Qatar headed for Kenya, it was clear that they held the plane until Peter boarded. Right after he boarded the doors were closed to the aircraft. Somehow these pleasantries made the long trip much more bearable. I was happy to hear this because what I immediately realize is that when Peter travels internationally, he gets treated with great respect. The people in the field love him and they all take the time to get to know him and then thank him when he is done. He actually gets gifts for coming to visit these locations! These are acts of kindness we do not see in our current US workplace. There are no personal connections and in so many cases there is no respect for one another as people. That saddens me, since Americans spend more time working than doing anything else, and yet most people are working in rather unpleasant work environments.

As I was going through the mail today, I noticed I received a card from my friend, Nancy. Nancy sends me things all the time, but what I wasn't expecting was a mother's day card. This card, as I told her, meant a great deal to me. Since this is not a day in which I get recognized any more. Without Mattie in my life, it is hard to know what to view me as. But I can assure you it is painful to go from being a mom, from being an important and central part of some one's world, to nothing.

April 29, 2011

Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday, April 29, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2007 on our deck. We were all eating outside together, and clearly Peter wanted to capture this happy moment. I am thankful we took so many pictures, not just on special occasions. Because in reality, the pictures are all we have left to help keep Mattie's memory alive.

Quote of the day: Courage is being afraid and going on the journey anyhow. ~  John Wayne

Today's posting will be short because I am not feeling well. The update on Peter is he has finished his work in Bangladesh and will be boarding a plane shortly to head to Qatar (a 5 and half hour flight), and once in Qatar will taking another 5 hour flight to get to his final destination, Kenya. Peter will be in Kenya for a week. His trip to Bangladesh was a positive cultural experience. On his last day of work, he received all sorts of gifts and kindness. Frankly, as I observe how developing nations do business, it seems to me that we have lost a very important factor in our American work culture. The human factor!

As I picked up the Washington Post this morning and saw the picture of devastation in Alabama on the front cover, I immediately went to the computer to email my friend and colleague, Lisa, who lives in Tuscaloosa. Thankfully she is okay, but is surrounded by devastation. It is hard to believe that as one area suffers, the media is focused on a royal wedding in another part of the world. I am the first person to appreciate tradition, but based on my own feelings today, there was no way I was tuning into this wedding. Despite not tuning into the wedding, it was all over TV and the radio. You couldn't avoid it. Many of the comments I was hearing had to do with how the wedding was making others feel.... romantic, sentimental, energized. What a commentary that we need the media to hype up a wedding in order for us to feel these emotions within ourselves.  

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2006. Mattie was at a Day Out with Thomas event and as you can see, Mattie was all business when it came to riding on a train. Peter captured Mattie in motion and working hard to get around the track using the hand crank on this ride-on car.

Quote of the day: They that love beyond the world cannot be separated by it. Death cannot kill what never dies. ~  William Penn

It was a strange weather day today, with dark ominous clouds and rain. Not the best weather for a logistical team walk through of our Foundation event site. However, I will take all the rain now, as long as May 22, turns out to be a sunny day. Last year's Walk experienced the worst weather possible, and it is my hope that we get a better weather day this year. As I was driving to Mattie's school campus, I realized that we needed an indoor meeting plan for today's group, since an outdoor meeting wasn't going to happen. Larry, one of Mattie's former teachers now works on the upper school campus, and I contacted him for help. Literally in the subject line of my email, I wrote, HELP! Within minutes Larry got back to me, and he also found us a conference room to meet in. There are several amazing Mattie supporters on the upper school campus, and I am not sure where I would be without them! Mattie's technology teacher, Mary, works on campus too, and I went to visit her after the meeting. Mary was and continues to be very devoted to Mattie. She faithfully came every Wednesday to the hospital to work with Mattie on computer skills, and I can assure you, Mattie did not always greet Mary in a very nice manner. But Mary understood and always helped Mattie work through that. I will never forget her kindness. As we spoke about Mattie today, she had tears in her eyes, and typically when I am with Mary, we can both land up in tears because we are just comfortable with each other and our feelings as we relate to Mattie. So needless to say, though Mattie never made it to the upper school campus, I feel a deep connection to the amazing faculty members working there.

I appreciated all 6 women who showed up today and gave several hours of their time to brainstorm the walk. Despite all our best efforts, Peter and I can not do the Walk alone, and it is thanks to several consistent and loyal supporters that we are able to successfully run this event. As I listened to the dialogues today about how things should be set up and what the flow should be like at the walk, I later came home and started drawing out all sorts of flow plans.

I was scheduled to go out to dinner with Jerry and Nancy tonight. The dynamic musical duo from the hospital. But I just wasn't feeling good and wasn't up to it. I spent most of the day at home, working on Walk items. Later tonight I heard from Lauren's mom, Carey. Lauren is one of our Faces of Hope this year. Carey wanted me to know that last night another child (Sara, age 13) with Osteosarcoma, who was an electronic friend of Lauren's died. Our hearts goes out to Sara's family, and we know the devastation that they feel all too well. As I sit back and reflect on this, I told Carey that I imagine this is very hard for Lauren to accept. After all, Sara was her age and had the same disease as Lauren. Though Lauren is a teen with a beautiful smile and a passion to help other children with cancer, I have to pause and wonder should a 13 year old know so much about the harsh realities of life? Should she have friends die from cancer, the same cancer she battled with? From my perspective it would be impossible for Lauren to have the typical teenager experience. She knows, has seen, and has survived a horrific disease. A disease that will always be a part of her life.

April 27, 2011

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken by Peter in June of 2006. Mattie and his buddy Zachary were at a Day Out with Thomas Event in Maryland. Clearly Peter captured these two buddies walking and talking. There is something about this picture I just love. I can't see their faces, but I can feel their energy together and can tell by Mattie's pace that he was excited and energized to be seeing Thomas and to be doing this with Zachary.

Quote of the day: There is no grief like the grief that does not speak. ~ Henry Wordsworth Longfellow

Despite my best attempt at trying to put words each and every day to grief, I do agree with Longfellow. The "grief that does not speak" is intense, overwhelming, heartbreaking, and at times paralyzing. I started my day with a beautiful and meaningful message from my Osteosarcoma friend, Karen. Karen lost her son, Keaton, to Osteosarcoma, and we began writing to each other while both of our boys were fighting this horrid disease. In so many ways, Karen and I parallel each other. Our feelings and thoughts tend to be quite similar even though we NEVER met, and we do not even live in the same State. I find during challenging times we write to each other for reality checks. After all our reality is NOT shared by many parents and though others may want us to snap out of it and "move on" that isn't going to happen. NO matter how badly you may want this for us. So with that said, what happens now? What happens to friendships? What happens to our former way of life? To the future? All excellent questions, and as I have learned over the course of almost three years (hard to believe this all started in 2008!) is that not all friendships and relationships can handle the test of cancer. Some dissolve despite the best of efforts and certainly not all our life interests and priorities remain the same, in fact, for me, most of the things I was involved in prior to Mattie's cancer no longer interest me. Mattie may have died on September 8, 2009, but the psychological ramifications and aftermath of cancer are alive and well.

I had to clear my head this morning, and decided to walk despite not feeling the greatest. But my headache was worse than my bladder condition, so I knew getting fresh air may help. I walked two miles alone, and then had the wonderful opportunity to bump into Coach Dave, a huge Mattie Miracle supporter at Mattie's school. Dave joined me for a bit as I continued my walk. Dave is instrumental in the logistical set up and flow of our Foundation Walk, and it was wonderful to have this one on one time with him to brainstorm May 22. Something told me I had to walk today, and I am so happy I listened to that feeling otherwise I would never have run into Dave.

Peter is holding his own in Bangladesh, and for him it is already Thursday there. He let me know that Friday is not a work day in Bangladesh, based on the cultural and religious practices of the Country. I always learn so much from Peter's trips. On Saturday, he boards a plane and flies to Kenya, where he will be working for another week before returning home.  

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tuesday, April 26, 2011 -- Mattie died 85 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2006. I was the parent helper that day in Mattie's preschool class, and even back then I never traveled without my camera. As you can see in this picture Mattie was wearing his favorite color. He loved the play loft in Margaret's classroom, and up on the stairs with Mattie was his very close buddy, Zachary. Those two were absolutely inseparable in preschool, and they would spend 3 hours in school together each day, and then after school, they would spend several more hours with each other. Needless to say, I think Mattie and Zachary learned a lot about each other and how to cultivate a friendship from one another. These were skills I saw Mattie taking into kindergarten, and somehow I do think if Mattie were still alive today, their friendship would have continued. They had a special bond with each other and could pick up right where they left off. For so many of us, it may take a lifetime to find a friend like that. For Mattie he found it on the first day of preschool.

Quote of the day: You can shed tears that she is gone, or you can smile because she has lived. You can close your eyes and pray that she'll come back, or you can open your eyes and see all she's left. Your heart can be empty because you can't see her, or you can be full of the love you shared. You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday, or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday. You can remember her only that she is gone, or you can cherish her memory and let it live on. You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back. Or you can do what she'd want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on. ~ David Harkins

Tonight's quote caught my attention because it has a griever believe that either you can pine for the loss of your loved one, or you can look at the future and cherish the memories. That it is one or the other, but why can't both happen simultaneously? I find this quote very judgmental, because in all reality, when you have lost a child I think both aspects occur. You feel the loss, you feel empty and also live in your yesterdays. But that doesn't mean these feelings aren't tempered with cherishing the memories and actively finding ways to keep those memories alive.

I met up with Ann this morning and we went for a walk. We haven't been able to do this together for quite some time. For those of you who have tuned into the blog more recently, Ann was our Team Mattie Coordinator. Over the course of Mattie's battle, Ann and I landed up spending a lot of time together and certainly after Mattie's death, I would say that I spent a rather intense year with Ann. Certainly dealing with the trauma of Mattie's death, but also trying to help her as her dad was dying. These life and death issues bonded us as friends, and therefore when life gets busy and too complicated, we at times can miss our time together. After walking in the beautiful sunshine for an hour, I came back to Ann's house and wasn't feeling well.

Despite how I felt, I was scheduled to participate on a conference call today with the Sibling Research Advisory Board (SRAB), of which Supersibs is a community partner. I met Melanie Goldish, the Founder of Supersibs, at the Curesearch Advocacy training and day on the hill events. Melanie and I instantly were drawn to each other, since we were speaking the same psychosocial language and advocating for the psychological and emotional support of families living with childhood cancer. Any case, Melanie invited me to meet by phone the amazing group of psychological researchers around the country who comprise the SRAB. It was a wonderful phone call, in which I got to hear about the cutting edge psychological research taking place with siblings and family members of children with cancer. I look forward to continued dialogues with this group and ways for Mattie Miracle to get involved.

After the call, I headed straight to the doctor, since I had my recurrent bladder pain. I honestly did not know how I would have the stamina to drive myself and get the prescription I needed. But through Mattie's battle I endured a lot, and worked through pain. I literally walked into the doctor's office without an appointment. They took one look at me, keeling over in pain, and swooped me right into an exam room. I told the nurse practitioner today who saw me, mind you she has seen me several times for this issue along with my doctor, that she was my angel of mercy. She told me I made her day since she was having a bad day in which she wasn't able to help certain patients. I naturally understood that as well, since I know that modern medicine couldn't save Mattie. Needless to say, I hope to feel better in the next day or so, but right now, I am still feeling awful.

Despite not feeling well, I went to Dr. Aziza Shad's house tonight. She called a special gathering of 20 women. She wanted to thank us for the work we are doing for Georgetown University Hospital. Aziza is the kind of person who you can call and ask for help at any time of the day! Though I am not her patient, if I have a problem she still returns my calls from where ever she is in the world. So when she asks me for something, I try my hardest to follow through. It is mutual admiration. Dr. Shad is the chief of the pediatric HEM/ONC clinic at Georgetown University Hospital, and she was the doctor who helped us in extraordinary ways when Mattie was dying. Aziza is not only highly competent, she is a doctor with incredible compassion and character. So when she invited the 20 of us, you can see we all found a way to participate. I was surrounded tonight by 19 other women who also had a child diagnosed with cancer and whether their child lived or died, they now devote their time to raising funds for the Hospital and Aziza's work. Hearing the accomplishments around the room were impressive and I am excited of the prospect of having the contact information for each of these women to network with.

Each of us had the opportunity tonight to tell our cancer story and to discuss the work we are currently doing. Mattie's story is a touching one and though our Foundation was created in November of 2009, we are making great strides already. I had many people come up and talk to me, and I also enjoyed interacting with Denise, Mattie's social worker. In many ways, Denise and Dr. Shad tried to normalize my feelings. I sometimes develop intense anger for parents whose children survived their cancer battle. That may sound nasty or inhumane, but I think it is one of my ways of processing Mattie's loss. Unlike other moms who can cry about the process, I usually don't. My lack of tears shouldn't be confused with not feeling or not loving my son. My tears are internal, usually in the form of depression and anger, and in many cases with physical symptoms.
I would like to end tonight's posting with two messages. The first message is from Mattie's oncologist and our friend, Kristen, who remembers us and Mattie each and every Tuesday. Kristen wrote, "I thought of you early this morning when I woke up and saw the moon shining through the window. It was Tuesday..."

The second message is from my friend and colleague, Nancy. Nancy wrote, "I'm up early and on the computer. I thought the poem from last night's blog was perfect for the introduction to your reflections. Nature has a calming way for many especially when dealing with grief and loss. The idea that one we've lost might be with us afterwards intrigued me as I, too, needed a connection following my father and then my mother's deaths. I think circumstances and the trauma of the death determine the strength of the need. We discuss often the many complexities of birth, raising a child, and then the unbelievable issue of the early death of a child. You have been masterful in illustrating how important it is to have something to return to and nature is that lovely vehicle. I, too, saw some beautiful trees blooming as I was driving to my friend's house yesterday. The return of Spring and the blooming of the trees/flowers shed a ray of hope, just like the theme of this year's walk, Faces of Hope. I'm glad that you stuck with this theme and know that it will be powerful. Lauren is a beautiful example of a child understanding more than we give them credit for when she was able to show her appreciation of the gift of survival by her creation of her 'Bows.' I will miss not meeting her at the walk and await your description of her visit. Mattie has provided this same gift (although you have to miss his smile, hugs, and growth), with all the stories that you have shared and the volumes of pictures that you display on the blog. Peter and you have had many sightings. whether you are together or as you are right now, many miles apart, Mattie is with you always."

April 25, 2011

Monday, April 24, 2011

Monday, April 24, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2006. Peter and Mattie took me out to lunch for Mother's Day in Maryland. Most likely before Peter snapped this picture, he asked Mattie to show me how much he loved me. I think his smile and face say it all! No gifts, cards, or words were necessary. The picture illustrates his love. I can also see that right next to me sits Mattie's bag of tricks (toys, books, legos, etc) which I always took with me anytime we went out to eat. Mattie was NOT interested in food or having a dining experience, but he was interested in interacting and playing while eating. So this bag was essential.

Quote of the day: I'm Gone now, but I'm still very near.

Death can never separate us.
Each time you feel a gentle breeze,
It's my hand caressing your face.
Each time the wind blows,
It carries my voice whispering your name.
When the wind blows your hair ever so slightly,
Think of it as me pushing a few stray hairs back in place.
When you feel a few raindrops fall on your face,
It's me placing soft kisses.
At night look up in the sky and see the stars shining so brightly.
I'm one of those stars and I'm winking at you and smiling with delight.
For never forget you're the apple of my eye. ~  Mary M. Green

I selected this quote/poem tonight because of a ladybug sighting I had last night.  On my bedside table sits a reading lamp. I could hear something flying around the lamp last night, and I was just about to swat at whatever it was, when I saw it was a beautiful ladybug. Mattie and I loved ladybugs! I told Peter about this ladybug and his response to me was it was a little early in the season for ladybugs, and instead, Mattie was sending me a message that I wasn't alone. That he was checking in on me. In a way that notion was a very special Easter gift. So as I was reading this poem tonight, I couldn't help but pause again and reflect on the aspects that surround me in nature that are signs of Mattie's presence and his connection to me. These connections are all I have left.

I received a text message from my friend Tina today. She wanted to know if I wanted to go for a walk. I should be going for a walk everyday, but haven't been in the mood lately. However, her invitation got me to stop and to make the decision to go outside and get some fresh air. I met Tina at 2pm, and we walked outside with her dog, Max for about an hour. Max and I get along quite well and we seem to understand each other. Tina's neighborhood is filled with beautiful blooming trees, bushes, and flowers. It was an amazing sight of color to walk down each street. Somehow I never saw colors so vividly before as I saw them today and as we passed certain yards we just stopped and checked out flowers and fragrances. It was a gloriously warm weather day in Washington, DC, and it really made you feel that perhaps spring is finally here. I appreciated Tina's message today and our walk. Walking and talking always makes me feel better.

I began my day tackling this hospital script. I wrote another page to the script, but now am addressing the hardest part, the lessons learned. Lessons that may perhaps get physicians to think outside the box. I believe I have crafted a way of delivering this message without being negative or accusatory. Instead of discussing things that didn't work, I am reflecting on the things the medical staff did that worked beautifully and why.  Or at least this is my current thinking.

I received this wonderful picture today from Lauren. Lauren is our 13 year old Face of Hope. She is an osteosarcoma cancer survivor and will be one of the featured teens at the Foundation Walk this year. As many of my readers know, Lauren creates hair bows out of duct tape, sells them at her school, and gives the Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation her proceeds. Lauren continues to be very successful at raising money for our cause! Lauren designed this "Bows for Hope" sign, which she uses at her school to promote her hair bows. At the moment Lauren is very busy not only with school work, but also hand designing many duct tape bows to sell at our Foundation Walk! It is my hope that all those in attendance will stop by and see Lauren and check out her bows!

I would like to end tonight's posting with a youtube video I came across last night. Frankly I did not even know this video existed. Peter must have put it on youtube a while ago! It is a short video of Mattie in his PICU room. He was sitting on his bed next to Katie, one of our outstanding HEM/ONC nurses. Mattie nicknamed Katie, Dorothy, because of her pretty shiny red shoes. Any case, I leave you with Katie and Mattie, and their version of ....... This Little Piggie!

Katie and Mattie --- This little piggie

April 24, 2011

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sunday, April 24, 2011 -- To all our readers, we hope you had a Happy Easter and a Good Passover.

Tonight's picture was taken on Easter of 2009. Our last Easter with Mattie. Mattie's friends, Louise and Meredith, came to the hospital and hosted an Easter Egg hunt for him. Mattie loved it, and the interesting things they stuffed the eggs with made him smile. They knew Mattie did not like chocolate or candy for that matter. So there was money in the eggs and rubber bugs. Mattie thought that was absolutely great! I miss that face and Easter is not the same without him in our lives.

Quote of the day: For some moments in life there are no words.  ~David Seltzer

David Seltzer's quote could have been my motto for today. Today was a bad day on so many fronts. Sometimes it is hard to describe bad, pain, and grief! Because there is certainly a continuum to these feelings, but there are NO words to adequately describe the feelings. Last night before I went to bed, I had the notion that I would meet Ann at church today and then spend the day with her family. I even picked out a sundress to wear to church. When Patches got me up at 6:30am with her howling, that started my day on a bad note. In fact at 7am, I sent Ann a text message saying I wasn't going to see her today. I put the dress back in the closet, along with my shoes and jewelry, and got right back into bed. I did get out of bed by 9:30am, because it was 7:30pm (in Bangladesh) Peter's time and we agreed to connect by Skype at that time.

Peter could tell I wasn't having a good day already, and he listened and we chatted about his first full day of work. Which despite being up without sleep for 24 hours went very well. He is staying in a Westin in Bangladesh, and from what I can see from the pictures it looks like any Westin we would find in the United States.

I recall that last year, Easter was on Mattie's 8th birthday, April 4, 2010. Needless to say, both Mattie's birthday and Easter were a blur in 2010. This is our second Easter without Mattie and I can sadly report it isn't getting better or easier. I was fortunate enough to be able to connect with several people through email today. My friend Nancy, in NY, greeted me with a message and we talked about the commercialism of Easter. She wondered if Easter was like this when I was growing up or whether it was more about the spiritual nature of the holiday? As a child I certainly remember the Easter eggs, baskets, pretty dresses, bonnets, and candy. But I guess as I am an adult now, who has lost my only child, Easter seems very focused upon all the things I NO longer have in my life, rather than the rebirth of Christ. In fact I feel that it is impossible to celebrate Easter without having these other factors in my life. As if I am not entitled to celebrate Easter.

Later in the day, I was exchanging emails with my mom, and we were talking about the hospital script I am working on. I worked on it for hours today, and wrote five pages so far. My goal is to write a 10 page script, to deliver at the Medical Grand Rounds at Georgetown University Hospital on May 20. My mom was empathizing with me about how challenging and painful this has to be, and how she wished this wasn't a part of my life.

As the day wore on, I found myself getting more sad. It was at that particular point in time that my friend, Tina began text messaging me. Tina also invited me to spend the day with her, and really tried giving me all sorts of options to entice me out. I did remain at home, but I enjoyed our chats, which got more lengthy so we moved from text messaging to emails. It is amazing the words we choose to use with each other can make all the difference in the world. In fact it can change your outlook about a particular situation. Tina did that for me today. We have been chatting about all sorts of things, especially old movies and musicals, which we found out we both happen to like.

As I was eating dinner tonight, I turned on the TV. To my surprise I found the movie, Easter Parade, had taped today. This is one of my favorite things to do on Easter. I love old movies, and I am big fans of Judy Garland and Fred Astaire. I was glued to the TV for the entire movie, and I found listening to the music, watching them dance, and following the story line made me happier and for that moment in time I forgot my problems.

I would like to end tonight's posting with two special messages I received today. The first one is from my friend and colleague, Nancy. Nancy wrote, "As I do many times before I write to you, I check out the blog of the last few days. I awoke and knew that I wanted to reach out to you especially since Peter is on the other side of the world from you. Karen and I are on the same wavelength as I was thinking how ironic it was that Peter had to be away for these two events, Mattie's birthday and today's holiday. Listening to your frustration about all the Easter hype brings home how myopic people are. At times like this all they think about is from their own perspective. For us, as counselors, it is hard to remember that at times. As a mother, it is impossible! We are always thinking about our children and planning how to make each day count. In this regard, you can pat yourself on the back because you did that each day of Mattie's life and continue to each day following his death. I was glad that Mattie was watching over Peter as he made his trip to Africa. How unsettling that he has these two long trips within the last 6 weeks. This is another example of the stamina that Peter and you have. You are a mentor to others even when you don't want to be."

The second message is from my friend Tina. Tina is the same person who hosted the successful Art Show last week from which the Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation received a percentage of the proceeds. Tina wrote, "From reading your blog, I think that one reason you are a good teacher is that you connect with your students of all ages on more than just one level. You provide the information, but then you also dig deeper. Your words are thought provoking. I think you know where your students are coming from and they sense that you are open to their ideas and contributions --whether that is as an art teacher or in your professor mode. Your blog is just another way to teach about one of the most difficult and challenging subjects out there. I love it when teachers admit that they don't know all the answers when something comes up. In your blog, we're able to travel the journey, your journey, with you and reflect upon our own challenges, losses and the people we grieve for. It is a rare person who can put these feelings into words that make sense--make sense to themselves much less anyone else! I wanted to be in the room with you for your art lessons! Magic! You have a gift V. Teaching students of any age isn't something that is easy to do. So much work goes into it whether it is kids or adults. Your former student knows this. Something to think about as you consider your book. I'm happy Peter arrived safely and that you have had time to chat a bit. I want you to know that your words today (as always) were appreciated. Health is everything. Our family is everything. We need to remember how precious our life together is. Somewhere I heard that friends are the family you get to choose. Remember that I choose you and that you have many, many other people who have chosen you. While we can't begin to lessen the loss you feel constantly without your sweet Mattie, know that we are here. As mother's day approaches, I know it will never be the same, but you are very much still a mother, a nurturer and a teacher. That doesn't stop. You are needed. You are a wonderful friend to Mary and to everyone you come in contact with. You are doing so much through your MMCF work and blog that you inspire all of us in many ways and are changing the lives of everyone you come in contact with."