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 9, 2011

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2007. Mattie was holding one of the jars we used each spring to place his tent moth caterpillars in. In this particular picture, you can see that the caterpillar had spun a cocoon and Mattie was awaiting for the miraculous transformation of it into a moth. I can't help but reflect on all the moths we released over the years on our deck, and I always wonder if the moths that visit us now are related to one of Mattie's. Even if they are not, I would like to imagine that they are. That something Mattie helped to feed and nurture is flying over us.

Quote of the day: We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee. ~ Marion Wright Edelman

I find this quote very powerful, because in all reality it is the small differences we make each day that have a very meaningful impact on us and others. Small differences like listening to someone's feelings and thoughts, and even sharing a smile. I have noticed lately, more than ever, that when I smile at someone it is very hard for them NOT to smile back. Even a complete stranger.

Peter and I worked together to get him ready and packed for his trip tonight to Nigeria. He flew to Frankfurt first, which is an 8 hour flight, and then from Frankfurt he flies to Nigeria, which is another 6 hour flight. With a three hour lay over in between. He is well on his way to Frankfurt now. 
I took two pictures of Patches today which capture her feelings about Peter leaving. This picture shows her calm and relaxed on our deck. She was out there with us while we were having lunch. This is the last of the calm and happy cat I will see until Peter returns!
As Peter was packing, the anxiety started! Patches jumped on Peter's luggage and if she could have prevented him from leaving, I think she really would have!
This evening I met up with Ann and her family and we visited Mary, her mom. Mary loved seeing all her grandchildren and hearing about their upcoming vacation plans. After the visit, I had dinner with Ann's family. I was explaining to Ann that this year more than last, it has become harder for me to connect with my friends and for my friends to connect with me. As more time lapses since Mattie's death, my role and activities as a mom become non-existent. I live very different lives from my friends who have children. Ann asked me whether I thought friends had to share such commonalities. My answer is YES. Certainly I think women who have children can be friends with women who do not have children. But here is the difference. I was a woman who had a child, and lost the child to cancer. My networks were built around the fact that I had Mattie and Mattie played with their children. So in my case, I definitely do believe that such a commonality is important to my friendships. In addition to that issue, I am trying to come to terms with my own feelings. I am very aware of the fact that hearing about the good times families are having with each other this summer bothers me. It bothers me so much that I don't want to hear about it and instead would prefer to isolate myself. From my perspective, I can't process what others are doing around me. I can't because this isn't a part of my life anymore and on a very deep level I HATE these differences and I am jealous that I can't have what other parents have, a live and healthy child. I could write more about this subject, but the anger, the feelings, and the resentments are all very real. Yet, to compound the problem, I also feel guilty for having these feelings.  

July 8, 2011

Friday, July 8, 2011

Friday, July 8, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2007. As you can see behind Mattie was one of his great creations made out of tinker toys. Mattie and I built a windmill together. Mattie had the creativity and basically I was there to help and to chat with him. Mattie and I spent a great deal of time together each day. I was his mom, but as most parents of only children will tell you, they also serve as the main play companion for their child. Which is why parenting an only child is a complex undertaking because the roles you play with your child are very focused and at times very intense.

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

I began my day with my monthly professional counseling licensure board meeting. This is an activity that I continue to really love and I enjoy the challenges I am asked to face from helping to create the laws and regulations guiding the practice of professional counseling in the District of Columbia, advocating for the rights of our profession, granting licenses to applicants, and presiding over ethical violation hearings. Each month always has something that stimulates my mind and causes me to feel good about my participation and role.

Peter worked a full day from home today. He was on conference calls for a good part of the day, and I worked around him. Naturally Patches was thoroughly thrilled that her buddy was home and near her. She has a total rude awakening tomorrow night, or let me restate that, I have a total rude awakening ahead of me when Peter leaves for Nigeria. Patches is a very anxious cat and when Peter isn't around, she is literally unstable. She roams around our home MOANING throughout the night, so sleep isn't something I get much of when Peter leaves.


Patches spent a good portion of the day out on our deck. She loves the new chair cushions I bought and I have entitled this picture "The Happy Cat."

This afternoon, I went for a walk around our complex. Over the course of the past year, our complex has removed many mature trees. Three of which I was NOT happy about. Mostly because those three trees were special trees to Mattie. Two were large pine trees, and Mattie loved collecting their fallen pine cones each year. The third tree was a maple tree. Mattie and I loved this maple because we would collect the whirligigs that came off of it and then would stick them to our noses. Any case as I was walking today, the reality of the missing maple hit me. For months I have known that tree was gone, but it wasn't until today did I realize the impact of the loss of that tree. In fact, this afternoon I visited many of the locations around our complex that Mattie and I would explore together. Mattie and I spent a great deal of time outside as he was growing up. Even as a baby, he seemed to respond better to fresh air. He seemed happier, less tense, and agitated outside. So therefore, I adapted. An inside girl, became an outdoors girl. If it made Mattie happier, it made me more relaxed.

This evening, Peter and I sat outside and had dinner. As I have reported before, by 7pm, our Slugs come out in droves. They are like clock work each night, climbing up the wall together. We NEVER had slugs before this year. Okay maybe one of two, but not 20 or 30 a night! I can't help but think of Mattie and how he would have been overjoyed with this slimy sight.
The final destination for the slugs are my petunias. We have placed many petunia boxes on our walls this year, and each night a pilgrimage takes place. I love watching the process! Peter makes fun of me because he hates petunias. I love them and plant them every year. He is slowly coming around to my point of view, but he jokes with me that all my petunias are calling out every slug possible in the area!


This evening I have heard from a couple of friends who I will be getting together with over the next couple of days. I appreciate them reaching out to me. Especially since during the summer, everyone around me is so BUSY, but for me the summer is quite different without Mattie in my life. I also heard from my friend Tanja today. She is on a cruise to Alaska with her family, and today they saw a moose. She said they all thought of Mattie, and how much he would have loved this sighting. Indeed! Alaska is right up Mattie's alley. Though this was an electronic message, I felt connected to their trip and to them.  

I would like to first end tonight's posting with a message from my friend and colleague, Nancy. Following Nancy's message, is a link to a Josh Groban song which I was listening to tonight. I was introduced to Josh Groban while Mattie was in the hospital and I find his music very meaningful. Any case You Are Loved, was something I needed to focus upon today.

Nancy wrote, "Although it has been a week or so since I've written, you haven't been far from my thoughts. I was sad to read of your temporary hearing loss with this latest migraine and thrilled to read that it was just that, temporary. I am glad when you don't write too much at times. It means that you are as genuine as always and not trying to fill the page so that others will feel connected. That is something that I cherish about you, your genuineness. I think that is one of your greatest gifts and I don't have many people in my life who possess this trait. Writing a blog like you do takes great energy and is very emotional. If one is real in their writing, there will be times when the emotions are stronger than the concepts that we want to explore with our words."

Josh Groban's You are Loved: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGLSk3AVcUU

July 7, 2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2007, in Lancaster, PA. We took Mattie to Amish Country that summer and we all had a wonderful time together. We stopped at a local store, and as you can see Mattie LOVED the cow statue out front..... most likely because he knew all about my affection for black and white cows.

Quote of the day: You don't think you'll live past it and you don't really. The person you were is gone. But the half of you that's still alive wakes up one day and takes over again. ~ Barbara Kingsolver


Several things transpired this evening which have changed my already fragile mood into a full blown rotten mood. I have sat before the computer tonight attempting to write the blog but for the past 20 minutes, however all I did was stare at the picture of Mattie with the cow. Writing for me tends to just happen, I suppose that is the case, since I have been writing this blog each night for the past three years. However, there are some nights, like tonight, where the writing and thoughts are just not there.

I think Peter put it quite well this evening. In many ways we feel as if we are living in limbo. We no longer have Mattie around to define our days and really our plans for the future. Instead, without him as our family compass, we are a bit directionless and at times future less. Jobs and tasks are just that, they are activities, which do not seem to have the same richness and texture to them as they once did. Before they were means to an ends, an ends to provide a future for our family.

Peter recalled with me tonight one weekend adventure when we took Mattie to a park, but a park that was off the beaten track. The park eventually landed us next to the Potomac River and we sat and had a picnic together, and then Mattie and Peter explored a stream nearby and threw sticks and rocks into the water. Peter asked me why he did not appreciate that time more when he had it? A natural and honest question, but as I told him, it is human nature to be programmed to look toward the future. On some level I know he did appreciate that moment, but my hunch is he probably thought he would have many more moments like that with Mattie. The consequence of cancer is life altering, because it changes your perspective from living for the future to living in the moment. Unfortunately our "moments" now are not always happy ones, which provides a major challenge to one's everyday existence.

So I leave it at that tonight and hope that tomorrow provides us with a different perspective. However, with Peter leaving for Nigeria on Saturday, a perspective change may not be coming anytime soon for me.

July 6, 2011

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2007, in our front hallway. Mattie was my laundry buddy. From the time he was a baby, he got used to doing laundry with me. For him it was an adventure, traversing our hallways to the laundry room. When he was a baby carrying him and balancing the laundry was a riot. As he got older and could walk, it got easier, but he always found an interesting way to join me on this chore. He either would jump into the laundry cart (as you can see here) or would ride his bicycle through the halls with me. Either case, "super Mattie" was always by my side. Many of the people in our laundry room got used to seeing Mattie. He was entertaining, engaging, and helpful to them! I recall the first year after Mattie died, it was hard to go down to the laundry room without him and most definitely hard not to see Mattie's little clothes being washed. Not that it is easier now, but I have gotten used to the absence of his clothes, but certainly not the absence of his presence.

Quote of the day: I would say to those who mourn…look upon each day that comes as a challenge, as a test of courage. The pain will come in waves, some days worse than others, for no apparent reason. Accept the pain. Do not suppress it. Never attempt to hide grief. ~ Daphne du Maurier

Today Mattie Miracle visited Capitol Hill! As our readers know, on May 10, 2011, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX) introduced the psychosocial Resolution (HR 262) that we crafted together (http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=hr112-262). We consider these Congressman pioneers in a way, because they are the first legislators to advocate for supporting efforts to raise awareness, improve education, and encourage research and treatment of the psychosocial needs of children, adolescents, and young adults diagnosed with a childhood cancer and their families. Since their introduction of the Resolution, around ten other Representatives have also come aboard to co-sponsor the bill. The Resolution continues to build support and momentum and the goal of today's visit was two fold. First, we wanted to visit the offices of Representatives Van Hollen and McCaul to thank them and to connect with the new health legislative assistants who we will be working with.

Peter and I said good-bye to Ray Thorn in Van Hollen's Office and Laura Bunten in McCaul's office this spring. Both of these Health Legislative Assistants will be missed and we very much appreciated their efforts to listen to our stories and our concerns and to proactively address them with their bosses and within months help to introduce a House Resolution. Today was our first introduction to meeting the new Health Legislative Assistants, Erika Appel in Van Hollen's office and Andy Taylor in McCaul's office. Unfortunately I did not take pictures of this wonderful and productive meeting. But toward the end of that meeting, we actually had the opportunity to meet with Rep. Van Hollen personally, to shake his hand, and to thank him for his dedication to pediatric cancer. Seemed like the perfect camera moment, for the person who is obsessed with pictures as I am, but some how it just did not seem like the appropriate thing to do. Nonetheless, as we were leaving, Rep. Van Hollen addressed Erika and Andy (who met us in Van Hollen's office) and encouraged them to work hard to get this Resolution passed.

The second reason for our trip to the Hill was to meet with staffers in Senate offices to try to bring further awareness of the psychosocial needs of children with cancer to the Senate and to work on drafting a similar Resolution there. Some of my readers may recall that I went to the Hill in March to have our first set of Senate meetings. Today, we met with two senate staffers. Accompanying us on these meetings was Greg Stanford, a manager at Mercury (the high stakes public strategy firm working with Mattie Miracle). Peter came with me to one of the meetings, and then I ventured to the second one with Greg.

Pictured from left to right: Laura Goodspeed, Shae Fitzpatrick, Vicki, and Peter
Our first visit was to Senator Scott Brown's (R-MA) office. We met with Shae Fitzpatrick and Laura Goodspeed (Health Legislative Aides). It was nice to visit an office that represents the State where Peter was born and raised. Shae (who is the lady standing right next to me) is delightful and a real cancer advocate. Unfortunately Shae is leaving the Hill and will be attending Boston College Law School in the Fall. Laura will be replacing Shae and we look forward to our further connections with this office. Needless to say, Peter loved the Boston memorabilia hanging all over the office, from Red Sox photos to lighthouse prints.

Pictured from left to right: Greg Stanford, Vicki, and Peter Gwynn-Sackson

The second visit was to Senator Mary Landrieu's (D-LA) office. I met with Peter Gwynn-Sackson (Health Legislative Assistant) and we had a good conversation. Every staffer we spoke to today was receptive to our story and seemed genuinely interested in our cause.


Hill visits can be taxing though, especially because we are telling our story and trying to advocate for an issue that took the life of Mattie. As I was riding home on the Metro, my migraine headache caused me to develop motion sickness. So by the time I got home, I was on overload. So I spent a good portion of the afternoon in a dark and cool room, with the hopes that this migraine will end sometime soon.

July 5, 2011

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tuesday, July 5, 2011 -- Mattie died 95 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2007 in Los Angeles. What I love about this picture was it showed Mattie's growing confidence in the water and by a pool. Confidence that we worked on developing that summer. Like with everything else in Mattie's life, when he was ready to do or accomplish something, he did it! This was a lesson Peter and I learned early on with him, we just needed to have the patience and the faith in Mattie.

Quote of the day: An important way to cope with grief is having an outlet, be it interpersonal, be it artistic, that will allow you to not have to contain your grief, but will give you an opportunity to express it, to externalize it to some degree.  ~ R. Benyamin Cirlin


It is hard to believe it is another Tuesday, a week that marks Mattie's 95th week gone from our lives. The numbers keep getting higher each week, but the reality of the situation only becomes MORE profound and real. I have been battling a migraine headache now for over five days and also haven't been sleeping well. Today's newest symptom associated with my migraine was hearing loss. That was scary and it put me off balance for a bit. However, I decided to get up and out and do my walking routine in hopes that the fresh air, change of scenery, and listening to music while I was walking would help my headache. After an hour of walking in the heat, I regained my hearing completely.

After walking I ran some chores, and then stopped by briefly to visit Ann's mom, Mary during lunch. I sat with Mary, Shayla (Mary's caregiver), and 3 other residents. I actually had a wonderful time getting to know Mary's table mates and one simply loved the fact that I was born and raised in New York. She was from New Jersey and felt camaraderie. It was very cute.

I met up with my friend Tina today for lunch. We chatted for hours about all sorts of subjects and thoughts. We can cover a lot of territory together. We had a fascinating conversation about friendships and what qualities attract us to our friends. It was an interesting notion, which I must admit I never thought much about until Tina talked about this today. As I was absorbing what she was saying, I came to the conclusion about myself. A person becomes my friend first and foremost because of the emotional connection and bond I feel we share. As I look at my friends over the years, there certainly has not been a commonality for me in terms of political viewpoints, religion, socioeconomic status, and the list goes on. In fact, all those things fall by the way side, and the unifying factor that attracts me to a friend is the ability to be able to communicate and relate to someone on an emotional level.  

Tonight when Peter got home from work, I was too exhausted to even move and contend with dinner. Eventually I got myself up and moving and we made dinner together and sat outside on the deck with the cat for about two hours. We chatted about our day, about Peter's trip this week to Nigeria, and in the midst of this, just enjoyed our secret garden and fountains. By the end of the day with a pounding headache, the garden is very needed.

I end tonight's posting with a message from Mattie's oncologist and our friend. Though Kristen is on vacation, she still emailed me today. Kristen wrote, "Thinking of you on this Tuesday and everyday."

July 4, 2011

The Fourth of July

Monday, July 4, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2003 in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Mattie was one and this was his first trip to the beach! We celebrated the Fourth of July there and though Mattie wasn't wild about the sand or the ocean that year, you can see his little hand bunched up into a fist. This was one of the tell tale signs that Mattie was taking in his environment. His fingers were like antennae that grabbed and hooked onto information that he would bring back toward his body in the form of a FIST.

Quote of the day: When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares. ~ Henri Nouwen

I selected this quote tonight because throughout our grief process, I have heard from many people about their uncertainty of how to help and support someone who is grieving. This quote responds to those concerns in a very meaningful way. Helping and supporting someone through grief is challenging, tedious, frustrating, and at times hopeless. Which is why friends have a hard time supporting each other through it. But with grief, there are NO magic words, pills, routines, or recipes to follow that provides healing. In fact I dare to say that the loss of a child is a lifelong healing process. A process that few people want to walk with you or commit to. It isn't a commentary, but a simple fact of life. However from my experience the best help we can offer someone who is grieving is our presence. A presence that isn't judgmental, isn't looking for an answer and a fix, and most importantly a presence that understands the powerlessness of the situation, and yet believes that the bond between two people can in and of itself be healing enough to help the bereaved cope with the complexities of grief.

I began my morning reading an article in The Washington Post entitled, Lost Pieces of the Past. I attached a link to the article below because it fascinated me. I suppose it interested me for MANY reasons. First, I was struck by the level of patriotism in this Country in 1976, and also by the fact that I never heard of the bicentennial Wagon Trains and the 22 million Americans who signed Rededication scrolls. Basically Americans signed these scrolls to symbolize their commitment to America on her 200th birthday. These scrolls were going to be placed in a time capsule and opened in 100 years. This was not just a piece of paper someone signed. No! Signing this document was taken VERY seriously. Some people quit their jobs to operate a wagon train, a wagon that would roam across states to seek signatures. Remember we did not have the Internet back then. These were Americans committed to a cause, a Country, and to preserving posterity. However, the sad part about all of this is NO ONE knows what happened to these scrolls. They were never buried at Valley Forge as promised, and it is said that we are talking about a stack of scrolls equivalent to a 20 story building!!! So where did they go?! It is a mystery. Nonetheless, every July 4th, "the wagon train participants who are still living travel to Valley Forge to reminisce about the year they spent together on covered wagons, full of optimism about America and what it meant." To read the story, click below:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/bicentennial-wagon-train-signatures-are-lost-pieces-of-american-past/2011/06/30/AGo7zxwH_story.html

Peter and I do not like traveling through the city by car on July 4th. Mainly because road closures are challenging! So instead, we walked to our local movie theatre. I rarely see movies because for the most part there is nothing playing that interests me. I need a movie with a plot, story line, dialogue and meaning. Unfortunately, this is NOT something Hollywood provides us with, or sadly even knows how to create anymore. However, for five years, Peter and I have been awaiting a Cars sequel. A movie that Mattie LOVED and gave us a great deal of pleasure watching OVER and OVER as a family. So in honor of Mattie, we decided to go see Cars 2 today.

I can honestly say I HATED this movie! It had absolutely NO redeeming value. In fact, the spy plot was most likely over the heads of our younger viewers because most children will not understand the complexities of oil versus alternative fuels. Putting the politically charged plot aside, I take great issue with the characters. In fact, I would imagine if you did not see the first movie, the sequel may not make much sense, because in Cars 2, there is no character development, the relationship between the cars seems perfunctory rather than meaningful, and just like everything else we expose our children to today..... the content was introduced quickly, furiously, with action, and without thought to feelings and emotions. I loved The Washington Post's review of this movie, especially this line... "Unfortunately, the sequel shortchanges the very relationships that gave the first movie its surprising heart." There was NO heart in this movie and the wonderful moral lessons in the first movie did not carry over into its sequel. I am not sure what Peter and I were hoping to find today, but I suspect I was hoping that a part of the magic that we felt in the first movie would be recaptured in some way.

One of the advantages of living in the City is experienced on July 4th. We can literally walk right out of our home and can see the Washington, DC fireworks at our doorstep. We do not have to stand in the crowds and we do not need to travel anywhere. Mattie loved this feature about where we live, though Patches our cat, isn't as happy about the loud noises. We hope our readers had a happy July 4th and as always thank you for including the blog in part of your day. In celebration of the day, I leave you with two things. The first link is an animated card featuring flowers from our 50 states. Mattie loved this card company and in the hospital we would watch these types of videos for hours. The second item I am sharing with you are some of the pictures of fireworks we took tonight. The National Capitol fireworks show is 17 minutes long, but it seems to just FLY by!  

Enjoy seeing what it looks like if you put all 50 state flowers together in a bouquet.
Click link: http://www.jacquielawson.com/viewcard.asp?code=1221321706636&source=jl999









 








 

July 3, 2011

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sunday, July 3, 2011
Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2007 in Los Angeles. We took Mattie out to California every summer to visit and spend time with my parents. He enjoyed that adventure, from the plane trip to sight seeing. I snapped this picture because Mattie was starting to learn to swim and we were all very proud of him. Peter was pointing at Mattie to call our attention outside the pool to our fish in the water. Throughout that summer, I would take Mattie to our University pool in the afternoons. I would get in the water with him and try to get him acclimated to floating, kicking, paddling, and swimming to me. However, Mattie was like me, we both have a respect for the water and are not strong swimmers. But all our practicing together, in a way, built up to this picture you see here.... Mattie swimming to Peter!

Quote of the day: Joy and sorrow are inseparable. . . together they come and when one sits alone with you . . . remember that the other is asleep upon your bed. ~ Kahlil Gibran

Today was filled with all sorts of Mattie signs! FIVE to be exact! Peter began his morning by finding the FIRST sign... a quarter at the grocery store. Naturally it reminded him of Mattie. However, the funny story about this was when Mattie was a toddler and preschooler, he was an ace at spotting coins just about anywhere. We both can recall being in the grocery store with Mattie one day, and literally he dove between the checkout girl's legs to retrieve a dime! Collecting coins was serious business for him!

The SECOND sign came to me while I was driving to visit Ann's mom, Mary. In front of me was a car, and on its license plate was... MJB! Naturally in my mind all I could think of was Matthew Joseph Brown!

After I visited Mary today and was about the head home, the sky looked ominous. In fact, Peter was worried about me even driving since we were under a major storm warning. However, I didn't linger about, and was focused on getting home. As I approached DC, the sky was literally dark grey and it looked as if we were going to get torrential rains. However, what caught my attention, was five rays of sunshine peering through the clouds. It almost looked like a ghostly or spiritual sight, especially since everything else around me was indicating a violent storm approaching. I viewed these five rays as my THIRD sign from Mattie!

When I got home tonight, Peter and I cooked dinner together. During this process, Peter went out into our garden and picked several sprigs of basil. When he brought it inside, out from the basil flew a HUGE moth. The irony is Peter did not see the moth when he picked the basil, but as soon as he came back inside, the moth was flying all over the kitchen. To me this was the FOURTH sign from Mattie. Mattie and I had a spring ritual of collecting tent moth caterpillars, feeding them oak leaves, watching them spin a cocoon, and then five or so days later after metamorphosis we would release the moths into the air. I joked with Peter tonight, that this was one of Mattie's moths visiting. Or at least a decendant of it!

After dinner, it had finally stopped raining, and we went outside. Outside our deck is a large flat commons space. After any rain, water accumulates in this commons areas and produces what looks like a mini pond. I couldn't help but stop and reflect with Peter about the puddle I was seeing tonight. This is the FIFTH sign, because this reminded us of Mattie, all the fun he had in the water, and all the splashing he would have done tonight if he were with us.


Tonight I am sharing some pictures we took this weekend of our garden's newest addition! Peter planted gladiola bulbs this March. He has always wanted to grow gladiolas and now four months later, they are actually blooming and looking quite lovely. Here is one of our purple gladiolas! A color that only nature could produce.
Each of the gladiolas are a different color. This red one is simply vibrant!
Peter brought 3 gladiolas inside for me to enjoy.
I would like to end tonight's posting with a message from my friend and colleague. Nancy wrote, "I am overwhelmed as my emotions swirl around the information of the last half week. From Wednesday on, you, both, have had to revisit the place that was 'home' during Mattie's illness. I appreciated Vicki sharing your thoughts, Peter, because it helps affirm all the pain that both of you share. As Vicki said, you were able to perfectly articulate what she feels she is unable to express. I don't agree with Vicki's assessment as she so vividly describes the pictures and tells each of us devoted blog readers so many of her thoughts, feelings,and actions. I do realize that there are deeper feelings that she might not share so this might be what she was referencing to. After reading the Einstein quote and seeing the dedication on the cake at Wednesday's celebration, plus Vicki's Mom's beautiful tribute, miracles do happen more often than many people realize. Mattie had to be proud of his Mom and Dad. I know that he felt your devotion and love. It is true how nature has taken on a new importance for many of us as a result of Mattie's life and spirit. Butterflies have become a symbol that I share with many friends along with the two of you. Their grace and individuality are two attributes of Mattie and the way that he battled his disease so fiercely. Your stories about Mary and comments about caregiving are special to me personally. I couldn't have gotten through some of the rough times during my own Mom's decline without Vicki's tender ministrations. Vicki is a miracle in herself with all that she does in spite of her deep pain. You are both my heroes. I am so honored to have both of you as friends. Vicki, you have given me many opportunities professionally to use my talents to serve our counseling community too and words can't express the depth of my gratitude.  I know that this weekend is so hard for both of you. I am confident that you will get through it with the style and grace in which you tackle many avenues of your life."