Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2006. Mattie was four years old and full of life. As you can see he was jumping on our couch! This was one of his favorite things to do, jumping on my bed like a trampoline. I remember doing all this jumping around when I was a kid, so I never stopped him. I just supervised him so he wouldn't jump off and hurt himself. In the grand scheme of things this statement is just too ironic! I tried to think about all the ways Mattie could potentially hurt himself and I always was proactive to protect him. Of course, I never factored into the equation cancer. A threat that was out of my hands and my control.
Quote of the day: As life becomes harder and more threatening, it also becomes richer, because the fewer expectations we have, the more the good things of life become unexpected gifts that we accept with gratitude. ~ Etty Hillesum
My dad sent me tonight's quote and I have been thinking about it for hours. The word within this quote that is SO poignant is EXPECTATIONS. About a week or so ago, my dad sent me a quote about PROMISES. Some of you may recall the promises quote on the blog. In reality there are moral messages in these two quotes and also these quotes speak to my character. PROMISES and EXPECTATIONS are very meaningful to me. As I said a week or so ago, I take promises seriously. I only make promises I can keep and when someone makes me a promise, I remember that. However, expectations are a bit more complicated. I have always had and operated with high expectations for myself and in turn for others within my life. I have many friends, but I only let a small handful of people get close to me. The closer you are to me, the higher the expectations I have for you. Sometimes my expectations aren't fair or even doable, and now with Mattie's death, my feelings for others and at times my expectations are not even realistic. I am aware of this on a cognitive level, but on an emotional level when an expectation isn't met by someone close to me, I feel as if it is the end of the world, or in essence the end of a friendship. Having lost Mattie has impacted my friendships and my ability to connect with others. It is easy now for me to feel abandoned or unimportant, even when this isn't the intentioned message from others. In a nutshell, the death of Mattie has rocked my world, my perspective, and at times my ability to rationalize without external validation. To me tonight's quote was very timely, because I do think one can be happier with fewer expectations. It is the unexpected acts of kindness and friendship which are indeed life's true gifts.
Despite it being in the 90s today and very humid, Peter and I went on a three mile walk around the Washington Mall. We stopped at the World War II Memorial and took in the sights and the meaning of this monument.
As we walked passed one of the tidal pools on the Mall, something in the middle of the pool caught my attention. It was a Great Blue Heron! I have never seen a heron just sitting on the Mall before, so this was a first. This particular portion of the tidal pool holds memories for Peter and I. Because we took Mattie to this spot when he had cancer. It is a great viewing spot to see all sorts of birds and in fact one afternoon, another family was there feeding the birds, and they came over and shared their bread with Mattie (who was sitting in his wheelchair all bundled up) so he too could feed the ducks! I will never forget that act of kindness because with Mattie's cancer thinking about carrying bread and feeding the ducks hadn't even crossed my mind. But I am so happy they shared their bread with us because feeding ducks was always something Mattie loved to do.