Tonight's picture was taken in October of 2006. Mattie was four years old and wearing the calico cat costume I sewed and designed with Mattie's help. Mattie chose to be a calico cat, because he loved Patches, our cat. Ironically Mattie and I made this costume together when he was three. However, a day before Halloween in 2005, Mattie was hospitalized with sepsis and never got to wear the costume or go trick or treating that year. We certainly could have used Linda's (Mattie childlife specialist) help back then! Any case, the following year, Mattie was able to wear the costume and as you can see, he was a very cute cat!
Quote of the day: Those whom we loved never really leave us. They live on forever in our hearts, and cast their radiant light onto our every shadow. ~ Sylvana Rossetti
Peter and I are thrilled that Tricia, one of Mattie's outstanding HEM/ONC nurses, became a finalist in the Johnson and Johnson amazing nurse contest. As some of my readers may recall, I completed the on-line contest application for Tricia and submitted it before I went to visit my parents in Los Angeles in September. I wanted to give Tricia something special for her birthday, so I decided to surprise her with a copy of my nomination essay. I am deeply moved that my 300 word essay (which was impossible to write, since it is hard to express the true depths of a person in only 300 words!) has made it this far, and is deemed to reflect how special Tricia is as a nurse and person. Remember that 1200 applications were received by Johnson and Johnson. From 1200 applications, Tricia became one of the 20 semifinalists. Thanks to ALL OF YOUR voting and support, Tricia has now achieved a finalist spot. I received this email today from my mom about Tricia and the contest and wanted to share it with you.
My mom wrote, "We are happy to hear of the overwhelming response your letter to JNJ produced in support of Tricia's nomination to the Amazing Nurse Contest held online by JNJ. Your letter documented why her selection as one of the 5 finalists was justified. It is a great tribute to you and your letter of recommendation that Tricia, a pediatric oncology nurse on the staff of Georgetown University Hospital, inspired such popular support that she came out a winner again. Her professionalism and her compassionate humanitarian spirit are attributes of a great nurse. She was blessed with a vivacious personality and has innate social skills which gives her an advantage in her work with children. These qualities were major factors in helping Mattie cope with his long and vicious battle with cancer that he eventually lost. Unfortunately, there was nothing modern medicine could do to save his life. But he fought valiantly and she encouraged him every step of the way. She could be irresistibly playful when he was in a funk changing his mood in a New York Minute from sad to happy. She knew how to relate to him as a child and could interact with him on this level which was so important because he was isolated from his friends when he was in the hospital undergoing treatment. She was his nurse, his friend, and his playmate and she ministered to you and Peter when things went awry. She was also an outspoken advocate for him when his treatments were not producing the desired results. I have seen her take on doctors whenever she felt it was necessary and her input always took into account how Mattie was feeling recognizing he was a boy who wanted some control over what was happening to him. For her devotion to Mattie, you and Peter over the 15 months Mattie was in the hospital, she deserves this special recognition from JNJ. This is a terrific moment in time for Tricia and the hospital and wherever Mattie is he is smiling down and applauding your accomplishments on his behalf. But most of all, his joy comes from what these wondrous things mean for Georgetown Hospital and for Tricia. Her contribution to children in the pediatric oncology division of the hospital are now well known beyond the environs of the hospital and Georgetown's sterling reputation for outstanding medicine is being acknowledged through Tricia's selection. In my heart, I know that Tricia is the one! Now it is up to the judges to make the final decision and my only recommendation is that we all engage in collective prayer until the final selection is made. From our hearts to the hearts of the final arbiters of the contest, please let Tricia be the one!!"
This afternoon, I went to visit Mary, Ann's mom. When I arrived in Mary's room, she was awake and seemed out of sorts. So I helped make her more comfortable in bed and then sat on her bed to chat with her. While sitting she reached out to me to hold my hand. Which is not unusual for Mary. I think when one lives in an institutional like setting, the power of touch and connecting is so important. In fact, I find when I walk down the hallway of Mary's facility and pass older adults in wheelchairs they all try to reach out to hold my hand. Needless to say, if a hand comes my way, I always reach back in return!
While sitting with Mary, she asked me about her husband and how he died. In a way, Mary knows I was with her when her husband died, but she is sketchy on the details of his death. Yet she wants to hear about them. So tonight we relived and reminisced about the time her husband died. I walked her through the whole evening, and then walked her through what the weeks looked like after her husband died. After all, Mary and I were both grieving losses at the same time. I told her that after her husband died we spent a great deal of time together. I told her about how we packed up her husband's things and rearranged her room. She was very intrigued at listening to my stories, and then paused to let me know that she did remember many of the things I was telling her about. But mostly she wanted me to know that she remembered our time together. Mary and I have known each other for about two and a half years, and yet, we always joke that it seems much longer. But I think helping someone lose a loved one and then sitting with them through the long grieving process, can bond people together in an intense and unforgettable way.