MATTIE MIRACLE VIRTUAL WALK WAS AN $110,000 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

August 20, 2011

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in Boston during September of 2007. Mattie was five years old and he was surrounded by his cousins. Sydney was 9, Nat was 10, and Will was 6. I decided to post this picture so you could compare it to what Mattie's cousins look like today (see picture below).

Quote of the day:  Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live. ~ Norman Cousins

Cousins' quote caught my attention and my feelings. In many ways, today was a very difficult day emotionally. It affected Peter and I differently, but the end result was we were both upset. As Cousins' wrote, death may NOT be the greatest loss, however, I do think that Mattie's death has impacted us tremendously and therefore affects what's inside of us. "What dies inside us while we live" is SO well stated. Mattie's cancer has killed many things within us and some days it is easier than others to navigate through these feelings. Today wasn't one of those days. On a day like today, the reality of our situation, the reflection upon Mattie's battle, and the prospect of a future like this is daunting and all too much.

We began our day by having breakfast with Peter's brother, sister-in-law, and our two nephews and our niece who were in town from Boston. As you can see from the picture above, Sydney (13), Nat (14), and Will (10) have gotten four years older! It is a beautiful picture we captured today of the three children, and I assure you they are as equally nice as they appear.

Later in the day, I looked at this picture and what hit me was sadness. Not sadness for these children, because they are all thriving and growing beautifully, but sadness because the fourth and youngest one, MATTIE, is missing from this picture. It is hard to see other children growing before my eyes, and yet mine will always remain seven. I will never know what he would have been like at 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, etc... It is a harsh reality, and a reality that made me turn inwards today.

I am typically a talkative person, but when I get overwhelmed with emotion, I can become mute and very tired. I spent a portion of the day by myself, until Peter came upstairs to get me and suggested we sit outside and then go for a walk. Not that the walk made me feel better, but it changed my scenery for a while.

While walking on Roosevelt Island, we were captured by the green growth and the overwhelming buzz made by the cicadas. Cicadas remind me of my maternal grandmother, because she would tell me (as a child) that their song was signaling to me that summer was coming to an end and school would be starting soon. I must admit I DISLIKED cicadas for a very long time because of her tale. Nonetheless, I included a link below to the sound of cicadas because I want you to know what our background noise was while walking.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbJjJkHkxeY

Along our walk, Peter spotted a beautiful great blue heron! That was one of many natural and peaceful sightings along our journey. The walk was a good diversion, but as we talked through dinner, we both got further upset about various aspects of our lives. Sometimes our conversations can become too painful, and therefore, we realize we have to pause them for a time, until we have regrouped to come back to them. However, the death of a child can wreak havoc on a family system, and unfortunately grief and death do not always bring friends and family closer together. Sometimes it severs them apart.

August 19, 2011

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday, August 19, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2007. Mattie attended Construction Club once a week after school during his kindergarten year. Mattie loved this Club because his teacher brought in everyday items for kids to create and build with. As you can see from this picture, Mattie came home with his art piece. In fact, for months, I had these types of pieces all over our home. Finally we agreed to get rid of some to make room for other things. But before we did, we took pictures of each and every one of Mattie's creations. I am so happy Mattie had these creative moments, and that this Club inspired him to love boxes. As many of my readers know, boxes became important objects for him in the hospital. In fact, Linda (Mattie's Childlife Specialist) and Jenny and Jessie (Mattie's art therapists) saved all sorts of great boxes for Mattie. Mattie was thrilled with each box and used his skills to transform it into some incredible art pieces.

Quote of the day: To bury grief, plant a seed. ~ German proverb

I began my day with a sick cat. That is never a fun start to a morning. I then had the opportunity to meet up with Shayla, Mary's (Ann's mom) caregiver, and we talked about her career goals. Shayla wants to be a nurse, and though I did not know much about nursing programs, thanks to the Internet over the past two days, I have learned a lot. Shayla and I had a productive conversation and it is very special to be able to connect and guide some one's educational path.

From Mattie's battle with cancer, I learned very quickly the beauty and importance of nurses. Nurses are the professionals who can make it or break it for you as a patient. They are the ones who are working around the clock and who not only help patients medically but are the ones who are emotionally present for their patients. I have great respect for nurses, and it will be my pleasure one day to introduce Shayla to some of Mattie's incredible nurses.

This evening, Peter and I spent time with Ann's cousin, JP. We took JP to our local Chinese restaurant. To us, this restaurant is our Cheers, where we know the people working there and also our local residents who eat there. After dinner, we walked a couple of blocks to our local Dunkin Donuts and Baskin and Robbins. JP has a wonderful appetite and for most of us if we kept up with his eating schedule we would weigh a ton. We had a night filled with laughter, and we got JP to laugh so hard he cried twice. 

Peter wanted to watch the Red Sox game tonight, and JP and I watched it for a bit, but then Peter got out voted. Nonetheless, JP and I got educated about the Red Sox Nation! Do you know you can be a card carrying member of the Red Sox Nation?! HONESTLY!!!!! Peter pulled his card out of his wallet and showed me this card. I asked him if any other ball team had such an ID card. His answer was NO! So literally this confirms my opinion of this cult like following, however, I had no idea the cult had ID cards! Amazing! When I googled this Red Sox Nation Membership card, here is what I found..... "In 2004 the Boston Red Sox began offering official citizenship in Red Sox Nation. For a small fee, fans received a membership card with the words "Official Red Sox Nation Citizen" and access to additional Red Sox merchandise offers and newsletters." 

August 18, 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2007. As I mentioned in last night's blog picture, we took Mattie to his first Washington National's game that year. Peter and Mattie bought hats that day at the park. One never expects a "thing" to outlast a child. But the hat remains despite the fact that Mattie is no longer with us.

Quote of the day: Love is stronger than death even though it can't stop death from happening, but no matter how hard death tries it can't separate people from love. It can't take away our memories either. In the end, life is stronger than death. ~ Unknown

I began my day by meeting with Marisa. As many of my blog readers know, Marisa was one of Mattie's caregivers in the summer of 2009. Marisa has also been in charge of our Foundation Walk bake sale two years in a row. This summer, Marisa has been working with Peter and I on social networking. Specifically on how to use social media to promote the Foundation. Today, Marisa gave me an hour long tutorial on how to us Twitter. Though I like electronic forms of communication, I haven't taken to Facebook or Twitter. For some reason I just don't like this mass communication capability (funny since I write a blog!). However, for the purposes of the Foundation, I realize we have to get up to speed on these communication networks. After working with Marisa, I feel much more confident in using Twitter. In fact, it is a lot easier for me to understand than Facebook. So as I build up our Twitter followers, we will be using this form of communication as well. Twitter reminds me of an electronic form of a telegram. The messages blasted out to readers are short and to the point. No longer than a sentence typically. I appreciate Marisa's help and support, and we wish her well on her upcoming term abroad to Florence. We will miss her.

I took on various projects at home today and by lunch time, I decided to text message Peter to see if he wanted to meet for lunch. I think transitioning from vacation back to work is very challenging, and I am trying to break up his week for him, because his 12+ hour days can be all consuming. Typically we eat lunch near where he works, but today I changed things up and we went to a new restaurant that was built in our neighborhood. It was nice to try something new, but neither one of us was thrilled with our lunches.

At lunch one of our conversations centered upon life decisions. Specifically how a person can try to be responsible and do all the "right" things to assure one a good future, however, in the end, some times bad things happen anyway.  Despite all the planning and despite all the best intentions. The death of a child illustrates better than any other example that life is really out of our control, and when you learn this lesson, it clouds how you view others, and how you view your future. The future doesn't have the same promise or hope.


The irony is as the day moved on and I continued to feel this way, we had a major storm. Filled with rain, lightning, and horrendous thunder. As the storm was coming to a close, Peter called me outside on our deck to see this sight. He was correct, as quickly as this sign came, it disappeared just as quickly. Seems to me we were meant to see this rainbow tonight.




August 17, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2007 at Redskins Park. At the time the Washington Nationals played in this park. This was before Nats Stadium was built. I frankly forgot all about our trip to the ballpark until I came across this picture. I even had to ask Peter about it. Peter received Nats tickets from his company, and apparently we took Mattie to see his first ball game. Mattie and I were both underwhelmed with sports, which is most likely why this most likely escaped my memory. But what stands out for me is the cap Mattie wore on his head in this picture. This cap is still in his room and thanks to this picture, I now know when and where we bought it for him.

Quote of the day: As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well used brings happy death. ~ Leonardo da Vinci

da Vinci wasn't only a brilliant artist, but as tonight's quote clearly illustrates, he had a profound understanding for life and death. It is never easy to accept the death of any loved one, however, a "life well used" does have the potential to produce "happy death." Or basically death without remorse and without regret for those left behind. The death of a child is NEVER a happy death, and it only signals a life cut short, one that wasn't well used, and a missed opportunity for the world. However in the end, the death of a child produces deep grief, and parents are left behind as shells of their former selves.

I went to visit Mary, Ann's mom, today at her assisted living facility. It was Shayla's (Mary's caregiver) birthday and we wanted to celebrate the occasion. Shayla cares for Mary daily and is a unique individual because she truly loves Mary. Yes it is her job to care for Mary, but you can't pay someone to truly care and feel connected to the person they are caring for. Shayla has worked with Mary for almost two years now, and over this time, Shayla has gotten to know most of Mary's family and friends, and in a way she has become an integral part of Mary's life. As Mary said today, "Shayla is my buddy." Here is an example to illustrate my point about Shayla. Yesterday I asked Shayla how she wanted to spend her birthday. I gave her several options. One of which was I would watch Mary, while she took some free time for herself (since she is a mom of three), or we could all go out to lunch, or we could bring lunch to the facility and eat lunch on the outdoor patio. Shayla chose the latter option, because she knew this would give us more time together and that other residents could be included in the festivities and be able to have cake. So in essence Shayla shared her birthday with others and made three residents very happy today. Ann brought this wonderful chocolate cake for Shayla, and I snapped a picture of Shayla and Mary together!


This evening, Peter and I sat outside and had dinner together. As always Patches was sitting on her own chair between us. She is definitely adjusting to being back home and loving her outdoor time. As we were sitting down to eat, I happened to look up by happenstance at one of our flower boxes. To my utter surprise, I found a hummingbird fluttering right over these flowers. He was so close I could practically touch him. I was stunned, but was able to point out this marvelous sighting to Peter. Peter saw the bird as well. So tonight, I was motivated to clean out my hummingbird feeders and refill them with fresh sugar water. I am happy that our little friend has come back this summer. I frankly can't understand his visits, since we are in the middle of the city, but he came last summer, and has returned once again to share his grace with us. This is a sighting Mattie would have most appreciated!

August 16, 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011 -- Mattie died 101 weeks ago today. Regardless of the amount of time.... WE MISS MATTIE!

Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2007. Mattie was five years old and just began kindergarten that year. This was the follow up picture from last night's posting. It shows Mattie on his uncle's boat with his cousins, Nat, Sydney, and Will. They were cruising down the Charles River in Boston, and as you can see Mattie was having a great time.

Quote of the day: My grief lies all within, And these external manners of lament Are merely shadows to the unseen grief That swells with silence in the tortured soul. ~ William Shakespeare

I began my day by attending my first Zumba class. I was inspired to try Zumba at home, since I participated in three sessions on our cruise. So last night I went on line and googled Zumba classes in my area. I discovered that the easiest way to search for a class is by city and certified instructors. The ironic part is I found an instructor whom I already know. She is a mom of one of the children from Mattie's kindergarten class. It is a small world. I emailed her last night and she invited me to her class today. So for an hour, I experienced my first on LAND Zumba class.

Zumba is a Latin-inspired dance fitness program created by dancer and choreographer Alberto "Beto" Perez in Colombia during the 1990s. Zumba involves dance and aerobic elements. Unlike a typical dance class where counts are used, Zumba involves following the music with repetitive movements.

In the 1990s, Perez forgot his tape of aerobics music for a class he was teaching. He took the tapes available in his car—consisting of traditional Latin salsa and merengue music—and improvised a class using this non-traditional aerobics music. After the initial success in Colombia, he took the class to the United States in 1999. Zumba is considered exercise in disguise, with a typical class burning between 500 and 1000 calories. The Zumba program is recognized by the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America, IDEA Health and Fitness Association, and the American Council on Exercise.

A Today Show Segment on Zumba:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5Hxw_Jf2B4

The class was a good workout and I plan to continue going. There weren't many people in the class today because several participants are on summer vacation. This is actually an ideal way to start, because we all could easily see the instructor and learn the movements. Therefore, it wasn't a frustrating experience like on the ship. The instructor was telling me the process of becoming a certified zumba instructor. Apparently you only have to attend a 9 hour training session to qualify for certification. In addition, apparently Zumba sends all certified instructors music and a dvd of new dances each month. It is then up to the instructor how these new dance additions are integrated into the class. Some instructors follow the exact dvd dance moves to a T and others improvise upon the dances. Therefore it is easy to see that NO two Zumba classes will be alike. It is VERY instructor dependent! 

After the class, I had several chores to do. However, while in a shopping plaza parking lot I realized I had a flat tire. I literally called Peter and asked him what to do. I do have AAA, but they weren't the first person I called. It was approaching the lunch hour, so Peter took his lunch hour to help me. He got into his car and drove out to me. He was in Washington, DC and I was in Alexandria, VA. In the midst of waiting for him, I was chatting back and forth with several friends. Two of whom were willing to come sit with me and help keep me company. The sign of wonderful friends.

When Peter reached my car, he could clearly see I had no air in my right tire. So he got all the equipment out to change the tire. Mind you he was in business attire and it was HOT out (or at least it was for him!). While he was working on the tire, we had all sorts of nice people come over to assist us. At one point I even had AAA on the phone, because we couldn't find the tool to remove the security lug nut. Eventually we found it and my spare tire was placed on the car. I feel like I learned how to change a tire today. Another thing I can add to my resume! I am not sure many husbands would drop work and what they were doing to come out and help their wives. But Peter is that kind of person and husband. I don't refer to his qualities often on the blog, but by now, I imagine my readers have figured out the kind of person he is.

Once my tire was replaced, I hopped back in the car and went to visit my friend Tina. Tina has just renovated the first floor of her house, and I have had the pleasure of tracking the construction progress throughout the summer. Now that it is complete, I got to see the finished product today. It is wonderful to see how rooms can be transformed, brightened, and made to flow smoothly into one another. Tina is the friend who planned the fundraising art show for Mattie Miracle in the spring, and today I got to see some of the wonderful pieces of art Tina has collected over the years from this particular artist. We had a nice afternoon catching up and chatting together.

When I got home this evening, I decided to pick Peter up from work, so he did not have to walk home. He had done more than enough of that today in order to get me in Alexandria. We made dinner together and Patches sat outside with us. Patches has come home very agitated from her boarding experience, but like I assessed, her lab results are negative for a urinary tract infection. I told the vet I highly doubted she had one, but instead told her that Patches' issues are psychological in nature especially while we are away.

August 15, 2011

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2007. Mattie was surrounded by his first cousins, Nat, Sydney, and Will. They were headed on a boating trip with Mattie's uncle, and you can see that Mattie was clearly enjoying the whole adventure! Mattie certainly knew about boats, but when he saw that his uncle owned one, this inspired him. From that point on, he would tell Peter and I periodically that he was saving his money for a boat. In fact, Mattie used to tell others about this desire, and naturally they thought he meant a toy boat. It was only after some clarification did they quickly learn he wasn't talking about a TOY!!!

Quote the day: Grief should be the instructor of the wise. Sorrow is knowledge: they who know the most must mourn the deepest. ~ Lord Byron

Peter and I are adjusting to being back home. Alaska is on Alaska Daylight time, and therefore was four hours behind Washington, DC. So we are dealing with this time change and also trying to get our land legs. For me, I still feel as if I am bobbing up and down in the water, and yet I am on solid ground.

We spent a good portion of the morning taking apart our sprinkler system, weeding, and cleaning up our garden. Unlike in June, all our plants did very well on our trip away. Coming back to dead plants in June was very upsetting, so I am happy to report things are alive and well here.

In fact, as I write tonight's blog, I am sitting outside on our deck with Peter and Patches. Mattie's fountains are running in the background, and though we are in the middle of the city, Mattie's gifts bring us peace. We accomplished more chores today and also picked up Patches from the vet. The vet is running more tests on Patches since she thinks she is sick with a urinary track infection (besides her kidney failure diagnosis that she continues to battle with). When I asked why they thought this, they said because she was going to the bathroom outside her litter box. With that I laughed. I laughed because I said with Patches there is always a psychological component, and I asked whether they considered the fact that she was just acting out because we were away. We shall see who is right in a few days when we get the lab results back!

Peter and I went out for an early dinner. We headed to Mattie's favorite restaurant, but it was closed for renovations until August 22. So we changed plans and ate at another local restaurant and had the opportunity to sit outside, chat, and watch people and dogs pass by!

I would like to end tonight's posting with a message from my friend and colleague, Nancy. Nancy wrote, "I guess it is almost afternoon for you. The quote that you used for Tuesday's blog echoes so many of your feelings during this grieving time. It must have been reassuring to know that others do understand and have walked in your shoes. I know that you would have traded this comradeship quickly for Mattie's recovery and health. My other reaction was this passage gives your reader an opportunity for reflection as to their response to you or any other person experiencing such an unwanted loss. I have appreciated all of your writing so that Mattie and I could be acquainted although we never met. It gave me an understanding of your deep connection and love for each other. Who would have thought that your 7 years would have to last for a lifetime? I am sorry that you've had to go through this, my friend. You have encouraged me to learn how to download pictures from our trip and add them to a travelogue memory book. It will take some time as I never seem to be in one place long enough to take a class for this and our children are all so busy that time isn't available with them right now. I will persevere! The pictures that Peter took are FANTASTIC! We had originally thought of extending our last trip to include Alaska and decided that it would have been too long and expensive. I shall have a vicarious thrill of being there with you as you give the highlights of the trip. I saw on AOL this morning that a glacier dropped near a ship and one person did get hurt. Based on your story of yesterday, I'm glad that it wasn't you. Another happiness for me is that Peter and you are able to do this trip. Nature and Mother Earth are and were so important to your life with Mattie. I think of the picture that Peter brought and know that Mattie is enjoying it with you. Last comment is about the mask that you bought for Mattie in NOLA. I got the same one on an earlier trip. Through the years, it has gotten destroyed, but, I was able to keep a few of the feathers for a memory. Our friendship grows in new ways..."

A video of ice falling off the glacier and onto a small boat injuring a woman (this occurred in Tracy Arm on the SAME day we were there)......

http://overheadbin.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/08/10/7331803-ice-chunks-from-calving-glacier-hit-alaskan-tour-boat

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2003. What I love about this picture was it captured Mattie's look of curiosity and intrigue. Mattie was fascinated by many things and always wanted to explore and understand how things around him worked.


Quote of the day: Bereavement is a darkness impenetrable to the imagination of the unbereaved. ~ Iris Murdoch


Today was an early morning for us since the Sapphire Princess docked in Seattle at 7am. By 8:20am, after having our last meal in the dining room, we headed off the ship. It is hard to imagine that while I am writing this, someone else is in our cabin and starting their voyage to Alaska. This illustrates to me how fragile time is and how quickly it goes by.

We spent several hours at the airport with my parents before boarding our flight back to Washington, DC. Fortunately it was a pretty smooth flight. However, since I have been on the ship for seven days, I still feel like I am floating on water and definitely do not have my equilibrium. It will take my body a few days to adjust to being on solid ground. So in the meantime I took dramamine before flying because I can easily get motion sick if I do not taper down my dramamine consumption. I learned that lesson the hard way before. However, dramamine makes me very sleepy, and I could bearly keep my head up on the plane. Which for someone who hates flying, this is a VERY good thing.

We hit a lot of weather today while flying and in the clouds I could see lightning! Perfect for a person who is an anxious flyer. But our pilot, who was a woman, was absolutely great, and literally there was very little turbulence considering all she was manuvering through.

While in the air, Peter captured some wonderful pictures, which I will share below with you. Tonight's blog is going to be short, because we got home at 10:30pm, we unpacked, did laundry, went grocery shopping, and we are wiped out. Alaska is FOUR hours behind Washington, DC, and I already feel confused time wise.


The Cascade Mountains
The Cascade Mountains
The Cascade Mountains
The Cascade Mountains

The Cascade Mountains -- through the clouds!
We flew right over Chicago, and as you can see our view was quite clear from 30,000 feet!