Mattie Miracle 10th Anniversary Walk was an $119,000 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

July 2, 2011

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2007 in Coronado, CA. Peter took Mattie on a bicycle ride around the Island, and what I love about this picture was Peter captured Mattie with the famous Hotel Del Coronado in the backdrop.

Quote of the day: There are two ways to live your life. One as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.  ~ Albert Einstein

My dad sent me Einstein's quote today. For such a profound thinker, I have to wonder what Einstein was pondering when he made this statement. Perhaps as human beings we do look at miracles in this black and white fashion. Meaning nothing is a miracle or everything is a miracle. I must admit that before Mattie developed cancer, I never viewed miracles as all or none. However, cancer did transform me and I no longer believe in miracles. Miracles do not just happen, and if you disagree with me, then I invite you to spend some time in a pediatric oncology unit. This will be a sobering reality check. Cancer should not happen to children and better yet, children should not die from cancer. Yet it happens to around FOUR children a day regardless of the efforts, medicine, and prayers thrown at the situation.  

Peter and I started the day doing chores and then we went to a shopping mall together. While at the mall, we first stopped by the Lego store to try to see Liz, our amazing Lego contact. The store was hopping with children and naturally I can't think about Legos without reflecting on Mattie. During our time at the mall, we landed up having lunch there. Typically I do not like eating at the mall, but a new restaurant just opened up that I wanted Peter to try. Seasons 52 is a wonderful restaurant chain which I first experienced in Florida with my parents. Mattie also loved Seasons 52 and there are certain foods on the menu that just remind me of him and our vacation times in Florida. Needless to say, Peter loved the food. Everything is fresh, seasonal, and organic. For me dessert is a key component of any meal, and Seasons 52 has something called mini indulgences. Basically all their desserts are served in shot glass sized portions. Some people need alcohol, I just need two shot glasses filled with dessert to make me happier. Peter got a kick out of watching me today, and he knows quite well that you really do not want to come between me and sugar!

Later this afternoon, I went to spend time with Ann's mom, Mary. Mary was very alert today and we talked for three hours straight. While I was there, one of Mary's caregivers came into the room to chat with us. This lady started talking to us about her cats, and naturally I shared my Patches stories with her. She lost one of her cats to cancer, and this loss was devastating to her. A loss in which she still cries over. She started talking about July 4th and wanted to know my plans. She told me about her family and how they have traditionally spent it together. So I told her that Peter and I really do not celebrate much anymore because of Mattie's death. I did not go into details, but I told her that my son had died from cancer. Her immediate response was..... "you are young, you can have another child!" I told her that it isn't that simple. You do not have another child to replace a child you traumatically lost. Or at least I don't. I also realize that it is hard to try to explain the special connection and bond Mattie and I had with each other to someone else. I know she said this comment because she wants me to be happy and to have a family, but these types of comments are very hurtful and also in my perspective VERY disrespectful to Mattie's life and our relationship.

When I got home this evening, I was fortunate that Peter took charge of cooking dinner, since I was in no mood to cook. Peter and I sat outside on the deck with Patches and ate, chatted, listened to the fountains, and continue to try to find peace.

July 1, 2011

Friday, July 1, 2011

Friday, July 1, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2007 during our trip to Coronado, CA. In fact, you can see the famous Coronado Bridge behind us in the picture. That was our last happy summer together, since Mattie was diagnosed with cancer in July of 2008. At the time however, it never dawned on me to truly appreciate that moment together, because I would never have it back again. We do not think about the life of a child being finite, and thankfully for many parents it isn't. Now that Mattie is gone from our lives, it has caused me to reevaluate many things and realize how taking things for granted or assuming they will always be a certain way is a BIG mistake.

Quote of the day:  I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge -- myth is more potent than history -- dreams are more powerful than facts -- hope always triumphs over experience -- laughter is the cure for grief -- love is stronger than death. ~ Robert Fulghum


For the past two nights I haven't slept well. Prior to Mattie developing cancer, I never had one issue with sleeping. However, post-cancer and Mattie's death, sleeping can be difficult. I am going through one of these difficult phases again and it makes functioning during the day impossible. I had the opportunity to meet with my friend Alison today for lunch. Some of my faithful blog readers may remember that Alison was instrumental to Team Mattie, as our director of communications and also the manager of Mattie's fund. Despite the march of time and the fact that in September of this year Mattie will be gone from our lives for TWO years, Alison understands that time is irrelevant. That the pain and the loss will always be a part of my life. This is indeed correct, and therefore talking with a friend who grasps that concept right from the beginning helps tremendously. As I told Alison, the second year of grief is almost worse, if possible, than the first. By the second year, the true magnitude of the loss hits you but the only difference is you are left to face these thoughts and feelings alone. Since the majority of one's network by this point has moved on and has refocused on other priorities in their lives. All understandable and I get that, but nonetheless, the feelings of isolation and not fitting in have become more pronounced.

Later this afternoon, I went to visit Ann's mother, Mary. As Mary's disease progresses and begins to take over her body and her mind, the care she needs begins to change. It is challenging to see her rapid decline in just a matter of two years, and tonight was one of the nights in which she was trapped inside of her body and unable to communicate verbally. Fortunately I have gotten to know Mary well enough to know her routine, her likes and dislikes, and to track her eyes and other sounds. I could sense Mary's frustration tonight and tried to alleviate her worries by telling her that perhaps after a good night's sleep, she will be able to chat with me tomorrow. With caregiving, it is a one day at a time philosophy. No two days ever look the same, which is what makes the role of caring for a sick family member or friend so challenging. However, I have learned that instilling hope is crucial to a patient at any age. The last time I met with my friend, Christine, she told me if she ever got sick, she wanted me to take care of her and handle the situation. She likes my bed side manner, but also my ability to manage people in a crisis situation. After leaving Mary's room tonight, I reflected on Christine's comments which have stayed with me since she said them, because I agree with Christine, not everyone is cut out to be a caregiver of someone chronically or terminally ill.

June 30, 2011

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2007. As you can see, Mattie was busy in our living room building with duplos (a form of Legos). Mattie loved building all sorts of structures, and if you look carefully you will see that he had a couple of toy cars, Lego people, and rubberized animals that he added to the structure to make it interesting!


Quote of the day: We have to believe that even the briefest of human connections can heal. Otherwise, life is unbearable. ~ Agate Nesaule

Peter and I found that we were both emotionally exhausted from yesterday's hospital visit and from the donation gathering. In fact, while having dinner last night, Peter dialogued about how challenging it is to go back to the hospital. Actually what he stated was brilliant because I would have to say I relate to his feelings wholeheartedly. I just never put it into words. Basically he was saying that when he knows he has to go to the hospital, he doesn't focus on the process or dwell on it. However, while he is actually in the hospital's physical space and interacting with the people we know, then it hits him that something doesn't feel right internally. In fact, he could see visual signs of anxiety in himself while entering the pediatric unit yesterday. To some extent Peter and I will always be traumatized, it is just how debilitating will each episode be. Peter sometimes can verbalize these feelings better than I can, and I find that with me, I have to detach from the reality of the situation, in order to be able to handle it. Otherwise, I wouldn't be able to enter the pediatric units and even gather in the childilfe playroom yesterday. Nonetheless, my feelings are always on a delayed response, and my post-reactions always lean toward sadness, depression, and anger.

We found out today that the $25,000 we gave to Georgetown University Hospital yesterday has been placed in a restricted fund. We knew about the restricted fund, but I assumed the title of the fund would be "childlife program fund." I learned to my surprise that the Childlife Fund at Georgetown is now called: The Mattie Miracle Child Life Program Support Fund! Mattie would be absolutely thrilled to see his name attached to a program he dearly loved and that made his time in the hospital memorable. I am deeply moved by this fund's title and in a way this is the start of Mattie's legacy. I attached a link below to the press release sent out by the Hospital.

News Room - Donation Funds New Child Life Position to Help ...Washington DC, June 29, 2011) —  Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation today donated $25000 to Georgetown University Hospital to help fund an additional child ...
http://www.georgetownuniversityhospital.org/body.cfm?id=15&UserAction=PressDetails&action=detail&ref=235


This morning I had the opportunity to meet with a social worker who works at The George Washington University. She is working on obtaining a grant from the National Children's Medical Center, Washington, DC to fund a transitions program. This program would help young adults who survived childhood cancer transition to an adult treatment facility. This may sound easy, but in reality, it is very challenging to move away from your pediatric oncologist, a person who you have grown to know, love, and TRUST over the years. In addition, it is equally hard for parents of grown children who survived cancer to relinquish the control and oversight of their child's medical care. This is very understandable for SO many reasons. The reason I met with the social worker is that she is looking for organizations in the community to partner with to help with the study's design and promotion. We had a good dialogue and I love the holistic nature of this survivorship program that is being developed. A program that would give adult childhood cancer survivors access to nutritional counseling, exercise fitness support, medical care, psychological support, and career counseling. Though Mattie Miracle is currently focusing on helping children and their families in the midst of cancer treatment, our overall goal is to assist individuals psychosocially who have been impacted by childhood cancer. So if the grant is won, you will be hearing more about this project.

It is ironic. I attended yesterday's donation gathering, and yet I missed some very important dynamics. Most likely because it is overwhelming and all encompassing for me to try to keep it together while at the hospital. In particular I missed the reactions of two children patients and their family members who were in attendance. Fortunately, my friend Tanja captured the feelings in the room and took the time to write to me last night. I am so happy she did this because what she observed and absorbed are exactly what we hope the Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation will be able to accomplish. Raising funds was a huge accomplishment for us, but changing hearts and minds is profound.

Tanja wrote, "Thank you so much for inviting me to today's event! I am so glad and honored to be there. I could sense Mattie's spirit in the room as well. While he could not be there in person, he touched and inspired all of the people in the room. There were many people present who have known each other before but by the end of today's event many connected on a different level. Their original purpose of being there to be supportive turned into a desire to carry on the torch that Mattie, you and Peter have lit. Its path and extent is not known yet. I did sense a tremendous change in feelings and attitudes and commitments during this event. Initially, many people were there because they cared and wanted to show their support. After Tim, Peter, and you addressed the people and explained your labor, compassion, and commitment to your cause the entire atmosphere and static in the room changed. I could sense the shift in people's feelings and emotions: from being there to being touched by Mattie's spirit who works and lives through you and Peter! People left the event, emotional and being touched to the point of carrying Mattie's spirit and legacy forward to make a tremendous difference in the way childhood cancer patients and there families will be treated and supported! The fact that I am even able to verbalize my feelings is only a tribute to your Son's impact.

Here are my observations about the two girls. One was very little and wearing a mask over her mouth and nose. At first she would not even come into the childlife playroom as we were setting up but a volunteer came and got what she wanted. As the event progressed, she stayed outside the room but continued to be fascinated by the event. She soon was able to come in the room with much more confidence and a look of hope and inspiration on her face. Every time she came in to either snag a cupcake, piece of cake or a game, her eyes were trying to find you. Her entire body language had changed! She was more relaxed and also seemed more hopeful.

The second girl came in the room at the beginning of the event. She was hooked up to many IVs. She sat on a chair and listened to Peter's and your words. So did her mother. At first both were very tense; you truly described their situation. But the more you talked about the support you and Mattie received, the more relaxed and hopeful their expressions and body language became.  As I left, I saw this girl asleep on the bench/seats outside the playroom and even the mother seemed to have relaxed enough to rest her head and close her eyes. Both of these families now truly know how much support and kindness they have available to them in Linda! The fact that you support this cause seemed to have given them hope and some inner peace at least knowing they are not alone in this."

June 29, 2011

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 -- Today marks the granting of our FIRST MATTIE MIRACLE!

Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2007, during our visit to Peter's parent's house in Boston. Peter's mother gave Mattie this large King Tut puzzle. Mattie assembled the puzzle and then decided to lie down next to it to see who was taller! The whole notion of this was hysterical, and I am so happy I snapped a picture of him and his antics.

Quote of the day: Grief can awaken us to new values and new and deeper appreciations. Grief can cause us to reprioritize things in our lives, to recognize what's really important and put it first. Grief can heighten our gratitude as we cease taking the gifts life bestows on us for granted. Grief can give us the wisdom of being with death. Grief can make death the companion on our left who guides us and gives us advice. None of this growth makes the loss good and worthwhile, but it is the good that comes out of the bad.  ~ Roger Bertschausen

Today, Peter and I granted our first Mattie Miracle. We officially donated $25,000 to the Georgetown University Hospital's Childlife Program. We worked hard planning this year's Walk, and after months of being focused and determined, we were able to have this special gathering today in the Childlife playroom at the Hospital. This playroom was our saving grace on some very challenging days. When Mattie first arrived at the Hospital in July of 2008, there was NO playroom. The playroom opened in the Fall of 2008, Mattie was thrilled and so was I. We needed this diversion for mental health purposes! I recall the ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the unveiling of the playroom, and Linda (Mattie's childlife specialist) allowed Mattie to cut the ribbon that day. It seems as if this happened only yesterday. It is hard to believe that almost three years later, I am standing here today, in the room that Mattie and I spent hours in, delivering funds to Linda, surrounded by doctors, nurses, and hospital administrators.

Peter said a few words, as did I, to a crowd of about 30-40 people. We gathered in the childlife playroom, a focal point in Mattie's life. I told attendees that we were here to celebrate this first large Mattie Miracle, but to also celebrate Linda and the fine and vital childlife program she runs at the Hospital. I equated pediatric cancer and its treatment to a tornado. I explained that when a tornado hits, you know it leaves behind devastation. Homes, schools, cars, and belongings are torn to pieces and scattered everywhere. I said that pediatric cancer and its treatment also provides the same sort of devastation, it may not be as visually catastrophic, it may be more subtle, but yet very real for a child and his/her family. I gave examples of the devastation caused by treatment and cancer: a child not wanting to leave his/her room, a child feeling isolated, a child feeling ill or incapacitated, not feeling accepted by friends, being different, afraid of dying, losing one's hair, feeling ugly, not fitting in, and the list goes on. The beauty of childlife is they are the professionals who help children and families cope with this devastation. They work with families in the trenches on a daily basis to help normalize a very abnormal situation. Medicine and treatments are important, but the psychological, social, and emotional care of children with cancer are equally as important. We feel honored to help fund such a vital program that will help hundreds of children and their families throughout the year!
  
Peter and I are pictured with Linda! I love the OVERSIZED check that Georgetown made for us to mark this occasion. I felt like a lottery winner of sorts. As I told the attendees today, I have to imagine that Mattie is proud of this achievement because Linda and the Childlife program meant a great deal to him.
Our group of wonderful supporters!!! From left to right are: Tanja (our friend, Katharina's mom), Brandon (Mattie's Big Buddy), Anita (one of Mattie's HEM/ONC nurses), Ann (our friend and Mattie Miracle Board Member), Linda, Peter, Vicki, Tricia (one of Mattie's favorite HEM/ONC nurses), Debbi (our Sedation Nurse Angel), and Toni (our friend and Brandon's mom)

There is something very cute about this photo, which is why I am posting it! I was surrounded by three women who became integral to my life in the Hospital. Tricia and Linda helped me through some indescribable times. In fact, Tricia is the nurse who confronted me and told me Mattie was dying. No one else had the courage to tell me. While battling cancer, Tricia would bring me tea every morning and she would talk to me and reconnect me to the outside world. Tricia, like Linda, will ALWAYS hold a special place in my heart. As for Toni, Brandon's mom, she is a loving and caring friend and supporter. Though she and Brandon do not live around the corner, they made the trek to the Hospital today to participate and support us. Toni and I spent many days together in the Hospital, worried about our sons. Toni and I have a great deal in common and our view points and outlooks tend to be the same. Which is why we understood each other very well throughout treatment. I did not have many cancer moms I related to, but Toni and I always got each other.

I would like to end tonight's posting with a beautiful message my mom sent me last night. My mom, as I am sure you gathered, has a way with words, and she captured the essence of the Foundation Walk in such a meaningful manner. Even the title captures the imagination and I appreciate her writings, because she absorbs things and has a perspective that I sometimes oversee. 

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Lasting Impressions by Virginia R. Sardi
The 2011 Walkathon was a beautiful celebration of life and further evidence that Mattie’s story is a compelling tale of a life cut short by bone cancer when he was only seven.  It was the second year that Mattie was not with us. Even though the odds were always against him, it was only human to hope as I did at the first Walkathon that he would survive a few more years and become one of the Faces of Hope that so brightened my day this year. It was not to be! Reconciled to the reality that life goes on despite the inevitability of loss and the irreversibility of what has been taken from it, it seemed like a natural evolution to confront the future without him by looking through a new prism of sensitivity in search of Mattie’s presence in our surroundings, finding him in every breathe we take, every rainbow we see, every butterfly that serendipitously crosses our path and every “penny from heaven” that we find on the ground. It is a very human attempt at capturing Mattie’s spiritual essence in a purely symbolic way, to find a spark of the earthly presence that we knew and loved so dearly before he died. Our connection to him was a bond so overflowing with love that much like clogged arteries that can establish continuity of life by diverting the flow of blood to newly formed pathways, unseen pathways open to establish a new spiritual bond between us. The supportive community of people that surrounded him through his illness hoping that a miracle would save Mattie’s life has become a powerful force for his cause after he died. A force consisting of volunteers, the faculty and staff of SSSAS and contributors from the community have made the Walkathons a reality without which the dream of Mattie’s parents, Vicki and Peter to bring awareness for Mattie’s disease to the public might never have achieved the successful track record it has earned in three years. On an impressive scale they are an army of caring warriors whose devotion to improving the chances of survival of children with pediatric cancer has been critical to the establishment of MMCF which is the key vehicle Vicki and Peter have chosen to keep the memory of Mattie’s fight against cancer alive. With the continued support of these loyal warriors, his Odyssey through life will never be forgotten! I thank them for their generosity of time, effort and spirit and remain deeply touched by their efforts to make the MMCF Walkathon a successful annual tradition.

June 28, 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011 -- Mattie died 94 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2007.  Mattie had built a structure out of Lincoln Logs, and I snapped a picture of that moment in time. Mattie liked Lincoln Logs, but they definitely did not even come close to his love for Legos. What possessed me to take pictures of Mattie throughout his life doing normal everyday tasks and activities was beyond me, but looking back now, I am so happy I was camera happy. Otherwise, memories like this one would have been lost forever.


Quote of the day: Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. ~ Kahlil Gibran

I found this quote today and I simply love it. I had to read it multiple times to get the true meaning of it. As it relates to grief, I think it is spot on. We all walk around under the delusion that we understand how the world works, what controls our lives, and that we guide our goals and ultimate destination and future. When you suffer a major loss, grief is in essence the mechanism or FORCE that breaks our "shell." A shell which holds us together, which has guided the principles and philosophy of our lives, and ultimately provides our lives with meaning and UNDERSTANDING. When the shell breaks, our understanding drips out, and with that our world as we know it comes leaking or crashing out. No one teaches us how to repair our shells, if that is even possible. What I suspect is once the shell has broken, that particular one can never be reformed. Instead, I imagine those of us who have experienced the loss of a child either build a whole new shell, which incorporates cancer and the death of a child within our new understanding, or less optimistically, the loss is all consuming, and leaves us permanently shattered or fragmented.  

In addition to flowers on our deck, we are also growing tomatoes, peppers, basil, oregano, thyme and sage. Peter took a close up picture of one of our three tomato plants. The tomatoes are incredible, and they are just as tasty as they look.
Outside of our deck door, is our Meyer lemon tree! You have to understand that I received this tree as a gift from my sister-in-law years ago. It was sent from Florida in a small packing tube. In fact, what was sent was a tiny and fragile stalk of a tree. Maybe a foot long at the most. We honestly did not know whether we could get this to grow. However, Peter loves these kind of challenges. He has cared for this tree over the years, and even despite Mattie's battle with cancer and being relocated for over a year to a friend's home, the tree continued to thrive. It is an amazing tree, which produces incredibly juicy and tasty lemons.  

I baked 24 cupcakes today in honor of Mattie. Tomorrow, Peter and I will be visiting Georgetown University Hospital to give Linda Kim (Mattie's Childlife Specialist) a Foundation check for $25,000. These funds will help support another childlife position at the hospital and assist children and families on scan and procedure days.

Mattie LOVED vanilla cupcakes. In fact, during his treatment, I made dozens and dozens of cupcakes to motivate Mattie to cooperate and do physical therapy. Mattie couldn't eat most days, but he was willing to eat a cupcake. So whatever he would eat, was what we would give him. I did not care whether it was nutritious of not. However, you should NOTE that Mattie (pre-cancer) never liked sweets. I did not condition him, since clearly I consume TONS of sugar, this was just Mattie's natural preferences! However, baking cupcakes now for me is very bittersweet. It is like baking a birthday cake for your child, and yet your child is missing and gone.

At the Hospital on Wednesday, we are having a check presentation gathering. So stay tuned for pictures. My goal is to bring in cake and cupcakes and have a celebration for Linda, and to be able to share the cake and cupcakes with children who are inpatient and naturally our wonderful NURSES.

Unlike my usual summer days, today, I spent the day with a friend. Tanja, Katharina's mom, is a teacher, and today was her first day off for the summer. We covered a lot of territory together. We had a pedicure and chatted, walked around Old Town, Alexandria, went clothes shopping, and had a lovely lunch. Tanja and I both like shopping in Chico's, and while browsing around in there, I got to talking with the manager. She liked the clothing dialogue that Tanja and I were having with each other, and she asked me if I considered working for Chico's. She said if I wanted a job, to consider it. I told her if I decide to give up my current focus, I will come and see her. The irony is my mom is the Chico's guru. She is the one who sends me gifts from there and she is the one who has shown me how to navigate around any store. So my mom would have gotten a major chuckle out of today's conversation.  

Tanja and I have continued our dialogue into this evening, as we are text messaging back and forth. Tanja is a blog reader, is aware that today marks Mattie's 94th week gone from our lives, and also is open to hearing my feelings about this loss. Tanja reminds me that despite my pain and how I am feeling, I always make time for a friend, I am always listening, and caring. She commended Peter and I on the Foundation's successes and basically I was absorbing all she was saying. Sometimes positive feedback and supportive words are very needed and go a long way for all of us.

June 27, 2011

Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday, June 27, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2007. Mattie went for a drive on his uncle's (Peter's brother) boat. Mattie was holding his cousin, Sydney's hand, and he thought the whole experience was fun and exciting. The faster the boat went, and the wilder the ride, the happier he was. He loved waves and motion and I hated it. Those of us closest to Mattie, knew he was saving his pennies and money to buy his own boat in the future. He wasn't referring to a toy boat either, he was referring to a real boat, and his dream was to have one and to be the captain of it. Children have all sorts of goals and desires as they are growing up, and as a parent you try to encourage these aspirations. However, I never guessed that cancer would be the reason why such a dream would be unobtainable.

Quote of the day: The caterpillar dies so the butterfly could be born. And, yet, the caterpillar lives in the butterfly and they are but one. So, when I die, it will be that I have been transformed from the caterpillar of earth to the butterfly of the universe. ~  John Harricharan

I would like to believe, as this quote implies, that all the butterflies I see, embody a part of Mattie's spirit. That his energy and life have been transformed from the ashes that sit in my dining room, into a colorful, quick, and freeing creature. I see butterflies in our garden as well as in Ann's garden on a regular basis.

Today, I added a beautiful hummingbird feeder to our garden. This vibrant colored hand blown glass feeder was given to me by Maria. Maria heads up one of the administrative offices in our complex. She has known us for over 15 years and she was very fond of Mattie. Maria loves our garden and this winter she gave me this special gift to incorporate into our garden to attract hummingbirds. The irony is last summer we were visited several times by hummingbirds, but I had NO feeder to keep them coming back. Peter and I have lived in our home for over 15 years, and yet, until last summer, I have NEVER seen a hummingbird visit us. We live in the heart of the city, so to me this fact isn't surprising. What was surprising was our visit by these special creatures. My hope is this beautiful red glass feeder will catch lots of attention this year.

At the end of each day, Peter and I have dinner outside on our deck. Surrounded by plants and Mattie's fountains. For us it is a way to unwind and reconnect with each other. Patches, our cat, joins us each night and sits with us while we are eating dinner. In a way, she fills the void, since we are used to having three around our table, instead of two. By 7:30pm, each night we have a show of nature unfold on our deck. We have a family of slugs who live in our petunia boxes. At a certain hour they slither out and start climbing up our garden walls. Usually heading to another flower box. I am not sure why this sight intrigues us or makes us laugh. But it is like clock work each evening, and if Mattie were alive, he would be absolutely fascinated by these creatures. So I suppose in a way, they make us reflect on him, because prior to having Mattie, I know I certainly wouldn't have stopped for even a second to watch a bug or any crawling type creature. Mattie has taught me to pause and appreciate the small and even slimy things around me.  

June 26, 2011

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2007. That year Mattie wanted a bigger pool to play in. Peter and he went out one weekend and brought this one back home. It is adorable, but understand that it took up over half of our deck. Nonetheless, I am so happy we did this because Mattie had many hours of enjoyment in the pool playing with boats, cars, trucks, and anything else he decided to throw into the water.

Quote of the day: The human heart feels things the eyes cannot see, and knows what the mind cannot understand. ~ Robert Valett

My friend, Charlie, sent me this quote today. As I reflect on it, I would have to say that it accurately captures what happens with grief. Or at least the grief I experience. On SO many levels my heart, or my emotional side, absorbs every aspect of grief. Which may be why at times there is such incongruence between what I am thinking and what I am feeling. Sometimes I can rationalize grief and yet be unable to emotionally accept my strong feelings and sometimes I am feeling a certain way, but have NO cognitive understanding for why or when it will dissapate.  Yet if I sit back and evaluate my circumstances at any point in time, my heart usually guides me through grief.

Peter and I had a slower day today. In fact, this evening we both sat outside on our deck with Patches for over two hours. We chatted, enjoyed our flowers, and listened to Mattie's fountains. It was very therapeutic, and we both needed it since we are all aches and pains from yesterday's nine hour kitchen tile ordeal.