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

November 12, 2011

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2003. Mattie was riding on a scooter throughout the first floor of our home. Something he enjoyed doing! In fact Mattie learned to use wheels to propel himself before he learned to walk. When Mattie was a toddler, he would zoom around our first floor, turning tight corners to easily follow me around. We still have scratches on the floor and our furniture from the tracks left behind from his walker and his scooters! Mattie was turned off to crawling and learning to walk, but was very much in love with flying around the house on wheels.

Quote of the day: Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are. ~ Arthur Golden


Tonight's quote is quite simple and yet very profound. I think adversity tears away and removes most aspects of an individual (other than what is at the core), but it also tears apart everything one comes to understand as real, fair, and just. Mattie's death has caused me to re-evaluate everything from myself, relationships, and the nature of what I do each day. As I told my friend Junko this week, Mattie's death has forced me to reinvent myself. Many full time moms do this later on in their lives when they become empty nesters, but in my case I have experienced this over a decade earlier than most, and I can assure you this in not where I saw or planned my life going. I do not understand why some people experience certain adversities, but I can certainly see how such adversities can send someone for a tail spin, spiraling down hill, and unable to continue living. Finding a way through adversity requires at times inhuman strengths and it has been a painful education about myself and those around me which I never could have learned in school, through a book, or a movie. My lessons are raw, vivid, and real and continue to shape who I am.

Peter was very focused today on Foundation items and we spent most of the day addressing one issue after the other. I must admit this was not how I planned on spending our day, so at first, I was less than pleased with being home and working. However, we were able to accomplish a great deal and in the end I feel good about what we did. We are working on two items in particular that I hope to be able to share in more detail with you shortly.

It was a beautiful weather day so later in the day we went for a walk on Roosevelt Island. Ironically while there we ran into one of Mattie's medical residents. We recognized each other immediately. Part of me wonders if she thinks of Mattie while walking the Island?! I certainly do as I know Peter does, since he walks the Island each weekend morning. The Island was visited by many ducks today, and I naturally couldn't help but remember all the bread and crackers I would bring on our weekend adventures there. Mattie loved feeding the ducks, and the funny part was Mattie would feed the ducks and also help himself to some of the bread at the same time! He was a real character.

November 11, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011


Friday, November 11, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2003 in our kitchen. Peter snapped a picture of me with my dancing buddy. I love Mattie's smile and expression in this picture, to me it speaks volumes. Mattie and I danced together many times, this was not a rare occurrence. I also recall as he got older when we danced, I would spin him around in circles, whirling him through the air, and he absolutely loved it.  

Quote of the day: In the midst of your doubts, don't forget how many of the important questions God does answer. ~ Verne Becker

Before I begin tonight's blog, I do want to acknowledge that today is Veteran's Day and for any of my readers (or their family members) who do or have served in the military we THANK YOU. I am very well aware of the fact that our freedom is not free but is the result of the bravery, courage, and sacrifice made by our service men and women each and every day. In honor of the day, I am posting Trace Adkins' song entitled, Arlington:
http://www.cmt.com/videos/trace-adkins/56305/arlington.jhtml

My friend Charlie sent me tonight's quote and in light of the week I have had with candy sorting, Becker's words really struck a chord with me. After Mattie's death, I admit that I have many doubts, doubts about life, people, and the overall purpose of our existence. Yet when I see an outpouring of community spirit, as generated through bags and bags of candy, I can't help but see that there is a message in all of this. The message is that people care, they have not forgotten about Mattie, and they want to help others going through a childhood cancer battle.

I drove to Georgetown University Hospital this morning with a car FULL of candy. The entire childlife staff at Georgetown came down to help unload the car and it took three carts to accomplish this task. Pictured from left to right are Katie, Jess, and Linda (Mattie's childlife specialist). Linda was able to hire Jess in part due to the contribution Mattie Miracle made to the hospital after the Foundation Walk.


Linda snapped a picture of me with Katie and Jess. I can't look at these red wagons without thinking of Mattie. He absolutely loved these wagons, so much so, that Linda gave him one to take home. Peter and I cherish that red wagon now.




Later in the day, Linda sent me the picture below. Featured with all our candy is Alice Pengra. Alice is a nurse and Pediatric Specialty Director at Georgetown. I am SO happy Linda took this picture at the Hospital because it gives you a much better feeling for the quantity of candy we donated today. For all of you who contributed to this project, you should be feeling very good about your efforts tonight!


I would like to end tonight's posting with a message from my friend and colleague, Nancy. Nancy wrote, "Mattie guides you in so many ways and this idea to have people donate their excess Halloween candy was brilliant! Now to see that another community hospital is looking to the Foundation as a support and reference is a kudo of par excellence. I always knew that there was something special about you both and through these last few years have witnessed the many ways that you championed Mattie and allowed him to experience all of his life experiences in a thoughtful, encouraging, and compassionate way. I've told you many times that you gave him the best that anyone could have done and you honor him each day that you work hard at bringing a bit of "normalcy" to this dreaded family occurrence. May you know greater peace as you continue to heal each day from the devastation of pediatric cancer. The world is lucky to have you both. I hope that you can get a large wagon to help you 'shelp' all of the candy into the hospital."

November 10, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2003 at Peter's parents house in Boston. Peter's mom gave Mattie a hokey pokey Elmo toy for Thanksgiving and I sat behind Elmo (the red Sesame Street character on the floor) and snapped pictures of Mattie. This is one of my favorite pictures that I am sharing with you. I love Mattie's sheer fascination with this animated doll. What you need to understand was this toy was battery powered and literally pretended to sing the hokey pokey and dance, and Elmo even turned around. Mattie never saw a toy do this, it was a first. Mattie was in LOVE with the character of Elmo, so much so that when Elmo was on TV, no matter where he was in the house, he would stop in his tracks and be glued to the TV. A rarity, since Mattie for the most part wasn't a TV person. What this picture doesn't show was after watching Elmo, Mattie  got up on his feet and danced the hokey pokey with the toy. It was a priceless sight!

Quote of the day: Neither fire nor wind, birth nor death can erase our good deeds. ~ Siddhartha Buddha


Somehow being surrounded by 238 pounds of candy (YES PETER WEIGHED IT!!!!) makes tonight's quote much more meaningful to me. Mattie's presence and spirit are felt in the kindness and generosity of his communities! The outpouring of Halloween candy has far exceeded my expectations. Mattie would have been thoroughly impressed with what we all accomplished together in just one week's time, with not much advanced notice.

This morning I spent several hours counting and bagging a good portion of the candy. I am happy to report that the grand total is 8423 candy items which I am bringing to the hospital on Friday. Keep in mind that in July, we donated around 650 pieces of candy, and at the time I thought that was a lot. This delivery certainly surpasses that and when I tell you that our home smells like a candy factory I am not kidding. In fact, too much of something can some times be overwhelming to the senses. I never thought I would say this, but right now, chocolate is NOT appealing. I took a picture of the grand total for my readers and even copied my table of candy quantities below so you can see the incredible success of this project. For all of you who contributed, THANK YOU!!!




Type of Candy
Quantity
Peppermint Patties
64 pieces
Laffy Taffy
127 pieces
Hershey Kisses
264
Butterfingers
252 bars
Nerds
121 mini boxes
Milk Duds
141 mini boxes
Tootsie Rolls
530 pieces
Mini Oreos
15 bags
Mini Pretzels
12 bags
Whoppers (chocolate balls)
459 packs
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
316 cups
Reese's Peanut Butter mini cups
155 pieces
Lollipops
298
Plain M&Ms
237 packets
Peanut M&Ms
74 packets
Twix
245 bars
Kit Kats
536 bars
Candy Bugs
20 pieces
Nestle Crunch
161 bars
Almond Joy
98 bars
Mixed NON-Chocolate candy
1775 pieces
Mixed chocolate bars
2483 pieces
Gummi Bears
40 mini bags
TOTAL:
8423 items

Peter and I received an email yesterday from another local foundation who wants to chat with us about our hospital snack cart. They would like to implement this idea at Children's Hospital in DC, but are looking for some advice and input about how to start such a project. This project can have its challenges especially when you take into account that we live in an era where we need to be conscious of food allergies and other liabilities. So it appears that our newsletter has reached various individuals in our community and we are honored to be consulted on such an important psychosocial service. 

I went to Ann's house to pick up more candy today and while there, I learned that my 11 year old friend, Katharina, was at school and wasn't feeling well. So before dealing with more bags on candy, I went to pick Katharina up at school and drove her home. I haven't had the opportunity to pick a child up at school for quite some time, so this activity seemed so different or foreign to me, and yet not foreign at all. Katharina was happy to see me and we chatted all the way to her home. Katharina, I believe, considers me a friend and reaches out to communicate with me without being prompted. I consider that a great honor, and on some level I feel Katharina, an only child herself, understands the magnitude of Mattie's loss for me.

Later in the day, I went to visit Mary, Ann's mom. I hadn't seen Mary for over a week, and as Mary's disease progresses it does become harder and harder to have a conversation with her. Despite Mary being unable to talk at times, I know she is listening and understands everything I am saying. As I told her tonight, I know her well enough to read her eyes. She loved that comment, and batted her eyelashes at me. When I first arrived in Mary's room, she was resting. So I decided to put away the items from Bath and Body Works that I bought her. After which I then sat on her bed and said hello to her. She opened her eyes and was clearly groggy as if waking from a deep slumber. The next thing I saw was a huge smile. She then opened her mouth and told me she missed me and reached for my hand. It was a lovely interchange and even when she is unable to communicate, I land up sitting with her and telling her stories or my perspective of the day. Communicating with Mary reminds me that so much of the importance of connecting with another human being goes beyond words. Sometimes words aren't needed.

November 9, 2011

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2003. The reason I am showing you this picture, is because Mattie was not simply holding a flashlight and looking cute. At around one year of age, Mattie began taking things apart and then re-assembling them. This activity caught my attention, and I assumed perhaps all kids could do this, until I observed other children and realized Mattie was unique. He loved the challenge of taking everyday objects apart, but then would put them back together. He did this with flashlights, toy cars, pens, and so forth. So this picture shows the beginning of the taking apart process.  


Quote of the day: Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless. ~ Mother Teresa

Tonight's quote resonates with me. I spent the day with my friend, Junko. Many of my faithful readers know that Junko is the friend who would visit me in the hospital, bring me lunch and an amazing chocolate surprise, and then would give me a massage. She did not do this only once, she did it each time she visited me, which was often. I recall while Junko was massaging my back or neck, hospital personnel would be passing by and observing. Those who knew me usually came in to acknowledge the great gift Junko was giving me. Living in the PICU was one stressful hour after another, and Junko seemed to deeply understand this and the ramifications of this stress on my body. Junko and I carry on our massage tradition, and periodically now we meet to go to a local spa for massages. Today was that day, a day we were both looking forward to, because it is during our times together we try to escape stress. 

I met Junko in the summer of 2007. Her son, Kazu, and Mattie were enrolled in their school's summer camp. Mattie was starting kindergarten in the fall of 2007, and my thinking was I wanted Mattie to get acclimated to the campus and perhaps meet a friend or two in camp who would be attending the school in the fall. Mattie and Kazu latched onto each other and developed their friendship in camp, a friendship that I imagine lingers in Kazu's mind and heart even today. When school started in the fall of 2007, Junko and I would see each other weekly in chapel. Every Tuesday (a rather ironic day if you ask me), Junko and I would sit side by side as we watched and participated in the lower school's chapel day. I asked Junko about chapel today, and what I found out is since Mattie died, she hasn't returned to chapel. She doesn't have the heart to do this activity without me and Mattie being there. I was deeply touched by what Junko was telling me. She wasn't telling me this to feel good or bad, she was telling me this because this is honestly how she feels. In fact, like Mother Teresa's quote points out, many of the things Junko said to me today will remain or echo in my mind. 

I typically do not cry in front of people. Well sometimes the moment moves me and I can't control it, but for the most part, I only cry with certain people. Junko is a friend I feel comfortable crying with, there maybe many reasons for this, such as she isn't uncomfortable with this expression of emotion, and typically we are crying together. It is hard for both of us to understand why Mattie isn't here, why he isn't in fourth grade like his friends, and why I was robbed of this chance to see him grow, mature, and be happy. I so appreciate Junko's willingness to feel these things with me and to truly try to understand how this devastation affects Peter and I on a daily basis. Junko doesn't give me platitudes, nor does she try to belittle the feelings regardless of the amount of time that continues to pass. So though we both had a massage, which is a treat, the true treat for me was connecting with my friend and being real. 

However, lunch for us was NOT boring! Why? Because sitting four feet from us at the next table was Clint Eastwood. We both recognized him immediately. He sat next to us for over an hour, and frankly it was tempting to want to get out my camera and ask for an autograph, but Junko and I both respect other people's personal space, and felt it wasn't appropriate to bother him when he was sitting with people trying to have his lunch. In fact, no one was bothering him while at the hotel, and there were times we admitted to being confused because seeing movie stars is not atypical for Los Angeles, but rather irregular for Washington, DC. Needless to say, we both hope to look as good as Clint Eastwood at age 81. 

Later in the day, my friend Nancy and then Junko emailed me to let me know that Clint Eastwood is in Washington, DC for the premier of his latest movie, J. Edgar, held at the Newseum. It now all makes sense.

I went to Ann's house this evening and picked up the final batch of candy for the Mattie Miracle candy drive at the Hospital. My goal is to deliver all the candy on Friday, and based on the quantities Ann was reporting to me today, I knew I would need two days to process it all.

So again tonight, we got out our bins and we were both sitting down and sorting all the candy people have generously donated to the Foundation! This has been an absolutely incredible project. Our communities continue to rise to the challenge to meet the needs of children and their families with cancer, and I know Georgetown Hospital will be very grateful. On Friday, I will give you a grand total of candy collected, but we are talking several thousand at this point! THANK YOU to all our contributors!

I would like to end tonight's posting with a message from my friend and colleague. Nancy wrote, "Vicki, I struggle with putting my feelings into words, at times, and have been stimulated and encouraged by your writing. I feel very fortunate to have friends like you who can go beyond the basics and deal with the hard issues. Once again I find myself challenged by the devastation of cancer. An acquaintance of mine told us that her sister lost her battle just a few days ago. Although I didn't know them as sisters, as a result of my connection to you, I was able to be there with her even though I'm in Florida. I think that is what I find so special about our relationship over the last three years, distance has no bearing on connection. What is important to me, possibly, the most important aspect of a relationship is the ability to do just one simple thing, relate to one another deeply, not to get caught up in one's own 'stuff' and just be with the other person. The last few days of the blog were filled with such richness of spirit and support. The piece about Peter was so special. When you write about him, I am glad that I know him personally now. I was a fan of his through your writing and now I am a fan because of the many deeply moving ways that he is in touch with his feelings. I'm a sucker for a guy who knows how to express all of his emotions. That is a rare gem! I'm glad that you both have each other for to have had to go through this torture alone would have been unbearable. You walk the walk, my friend, not just talk, the talk. Thanks again for what you are giving to others as you attempt to heal yourself. That is the definition of a true humanitarian."

November 8, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 -- Mattie died 113 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2003. Mattie was a year and a half old and this picture reminded me how our whole first level looked like a preschool back then. Mattie transformed our life both in tangible and intangible ways. As I was searching for a picture to post tonight, I came across this one and it made me pause. I remember those chubby and angel soft cheeks so well. This was one of Mattie's favorite things to do, he loved to put his cheek against mine. It was such a sweet and innocent connection, and as today marks our 113th week without Mattie, this is just one of many, many things that I miss.

Quote of the day: Breathe. Listen for my footfall in your heart. I am not gone but merely walk within you. ~ Nicholas Evans



I began the day by going to my zumba class. I did not go last week because I was in a funk about Halloween. Though I am new to this class, it was absolutely lovely to know that people in the class care about me. When I did not show up last week, I got an email from the teacher as well as from my friend, Heidi.

It was good to jump around today and after class, the teacher, Jenny, and I talked about the upcoming Foundation Walk in May. Jenny had some great ideas about how to integrate zumba into the walk this year. I look forward to brainstorming this activity with her, and once you hear the theme of the walk, you may understand the connection that came to my mind immediately today while we were talking. In either case, joining zumba was a very good thing for me to do this Fall. It not only helps my mood, but has connected me with some lovely people.

After class, Heidi invited me back to her house and we chatted and she made lunch for us. The irony is Heidi's house is not far from one of the playgrounds Mattie used to play at with his buddy, Zachary. Since I was a little girl I can always recall my mom's fascination with houses and architecture. In fact, we went to many open houses and toured through several neighborhoods while searching for all the houses we lived in. Unlike most children, I actually found this activity fun. I was interested in design, layouts of homes, and particularly interested in the things people put into their homes. Maybe because these items tell me a lot about their owner. After all, a house takes on its owner's personality and interests. I enjoyed visiting Heidi's house, the colors and her artwork spoke to me. As I continue to try to clean out all the things that have accumulated in during Mattie's illness, I always appreciate being in my friends' homes which seem happy to me and untouched by the death of a child (thankfully!).

Heidi and I had lunch on her porch and we chatted about all sorts of things. But the thing that Heidi's conversation reminded me of today is that I may have once been a mom, but I gained a lot of perspective from my seven years with Mattie. Having been a mom, gives me insights I would never have had otherwise. Heidi and I share the same religion and she understands my struggle that I am having with my own faith. When you lose a child, I have noticed this either brings parents closer to God or further a part. For myself, I have experienced anger and disagreement with God's decision to take Mattie. I also can't grasp a God who punishes children and their families so intensely. Mattie's death rocked my understanding of reality and therefore it also broke down many of the philosophical underpinnings in which I have lived my life in the past. Heidi however asked me an interesting question today. She asked me if I believe God determines our fate or our destiny? Stepping back from the question, my automatic answer was no. I believe God walks with us during good times and in bad, and that he doesn't necessary control our destiny, but is instead with us on this journey. Growing up Catholic, this philosophy was easy to verbalize, but it is a much harder philosophy to embrace and to absorb when things truly go awry in one's life. I have to figure if God is a loving and merciful one, then my questioning and disillusionment will be understandable in his eyes. For me this is part of the grieving process.

This evening, I attended the parent advisory board at Georgetown Hospital. The last meeting I attended was in May. Then the board takes the summer off and reconvenes in September. However, I was traveling in September and October and missed both board meetings. I loved the president of the board last year, but she resigned. She and I were the only members on the board who had lost a child at the hospital. It is very difficult to sit in a room with parents whose children have all survived their battles. In any case, at tonight's meeting a parent who is inpatient with her daughter was invited to the meeting. She was asked to come in and talk about her experiences living in the hospital, the good and the bad. As this mom was talking, I immediately related to her because she is spunky, articulate, and a good advocate. However, while she was talking she kept referring to me and said that I could probably speak to the topic she was addressing. It never dawned on me that she knew who I was. After the meeting was over, she came to find me. She told me she reads the blog and in addition, she wanted to let me know what a huge difference the snack cart and the new childlife specialist are making in her and her daughter's life. She said, "you have certainly given back to the hospital in incredible ways." This is a comment I will hold onto and remember dearly. This is the TRUE reason Peter and I do what we do, we want to make a difference in the lives of those who fight the childhood cancer battle each and every day.

November 7, 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2003 at a local farm. I absolutely love this picture! Mattie wanted to get close to this rooster, but each time he did, the rooster ran away. So it became a chasing match. Mattie's intention was not to hurt the rooster, but to simply get closer to him. Needless to say to me this was a cute and priceless picture, which I entitled, "The Determined Chase." 

Quote of the day: Our lives are like islands in the sea, or like trees in the forest, which co-mingle their roots in the darkness underground. ~ William James

My friend Charlie sent me this quote today. I loved it as soon as I read it because it reminded me of Mattie and Mattie's support communities. People are like islands in many ways, and our communities are like the sea. The one unifying factor in this vast sea of communities has been Mattie. Mattie has co-mingled members of his preschool, his elementary school, my university, Peter's place of work, and Georgetown Hospital. In my opinion, Mattie was a special seven year old boy, not only because he was my son, but because his courage and battle were so powerful he was able to connect these amazing communities together. These communities hoped and fought for Mattie's recovery, and now they advocate for childhood cancer research, services, and care. I often hear from our supporters that they became friends with someone because of Team Mattie. To be such a uniting force will always be a part of Mattie's legacy.

My friend Tina invited me today to a Degas exhibit at a local gallery and lunch. I love art, especially impressionist art, and Degas painted a subject matter I love... the ballet. We were both looking forward to seeing this special collection. Though Tina lives in Virginia and I live in DC, I learned today that Tina has an excellent sense of direction and knows the city better than I do. I wish I was born with a sense of direction, because I can get lost VERY easily, which is frustrating. Over the years, I have just accepted this shortcoming about myself. Thankfully, Peter and Mattie are not like me in this regard!

When Tina and I arrived at the event, we learned that the museum was closed because of a gas leak. We were both very disappointed, especially since a good parking space was secured. We mulled over the idea of walking to another museum or doing something else. But instead, we both decided to stay put, and found a cozy and serene place to sit and have hot tea and then lunch. The art of sitting still and talking maybe considered overrated by some, but something that I greatly appreciate. In fact, as I have learned through Mattie's cancer battle, the greatest gift one friend can give another is time. We all live in a fast paced and hurried world, and it is so easy to lose sight of the preciousness of connecting with another person. However, today, for about four hours, it was as if we unplugged from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and had a good time chatting about all sorts of things. Not to mention eating. We both love to eat and we appreciate the art of food preparation. However, post-cancer I have found that unless I am calm and unhurried, I have trouble consuming food. Food just won't go down, and in addition to this realization, I also know that my level of anxiety can escalate very quickly internally. This inability to regulate anxiety and feelings are not uncommon side effects from surviving a trauma, and despite being two years post-trauma or Mattie's death, the symptoms remain for me. Some days I can regulate them better than others. Bad days still however exist, and they come in waves actually. I continue to have waves in which I can't sleep, eating isn't appealing, and I have a heightened sense of anxiety. I usually can find my way out of this state with time, but the frustrating part is it usually cycles back.

This afternoon, when I got home, I received a phone call from a fellow board member who sits with me on the parent advisory board of the hospital. She wanted me to know that one afternoon she and her son (a cancer survivor), manned the hospital snack cart that the Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation helps to sponsor. She called to tell me how appreciative families are, how they look forward to the cart, and how their faces beamed to receive a free snack as they manage their long and arduous days in the hospital. She said it wasn't just one parent, it was every family she interacted with. In fact, such glowing reports are floating about the hospital, that I hear other hospital units on different floors want to know how they can get such a cart for their patients! I think this feedback is absolutely beautiful, because it is exactly what we hoped this free psychosocial service would achieve. Peter and I continue to count candy, and more is still coming in. We are OVER 3000 pieces of candy so far, which will be delivered this Friday to the hospital! So stay tuned for the final count which is coming soon.

Later today, Peter and I had a conference call with Brett, our lobbyist who works for Mercury, Clark, & Weinstock. Brett continues to be instrumental in his guidance of our public policy agenda and actually on the overall position of the Foundation. He gave us a lot to consider today, and I appreciate his ability to manage me as a client. He understands me as a person, because I am a combination of emotion and logic, and therefore when you talk to me about something I am passionate about (Mattie), it is important to know where I am coming from.

November 6, 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2003 at a local farm. Mattie and I were meeting a donkey, who walked over to us. Mattie was intrigued by the donkey and despite the fact that this animal was much bigger than he was, Mattie did not seem intimidated at all. Mattie was simply curious and wanted to know what donkeys eat and like to do with their time.


Quote of the day: Grief is neither a disorder nor a healing process; it is a sign of health itself, a whole and natural gesture of love. Nor must we see grief as a step towards something better. No matter how much it hurts – and it may be the greatest pain in life – grief can be an end in itself, a pure expression of love. ~ Gerald May


Our home smells like a candy factory!!! In fact, even though I love chocolate, I am overwhelmed by the powerful fragrance this evening. Peter went to Ann's house this morning and picked up all the candy that people have been graciously donating and delivering for the Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation Post Halloween Hospital Candy Drive. When Peter brought the candy to our home, we got out all our Foundation Walk sorting boxes, and Peter spent hours combing through all the candy to make sure each item was securely wrapped and then sorted into an appropriate bin. As you can see even our cat, Patches, was part of the sorting process! I like pre-sorting the candy, because it makes it easier for the hospital staff to store it and to stock the snack cart. For the next few days, I will be counting the items to provide a grand tally on the blog and for our newsletter. So stay tuned, but Peter estimates there is about 40 pounds of candy in our midst, and we know more is still being delivered. All I know is that these donations will be greatly appreciated by all the families at Georgetown University Hospital who are caring for their very sick children.


At the end of the sorting process this is what our current totals look like. Now the fun part for me will be sitting down and counting all of this!
My parents recommended another movie to us, and for a third weekend in a row (an all time record for me!), we went to the movies. We saw the movie, Courageous. Before we saw Dolphin Tale and Moneyball the previous weekends, we read a synopsis of the movie. However for Courageous we went into this movie without reading the synopsis. I had a general idea what it was about, but I did not prepare Peter for the content of the film.

Courageous is actually a courageous film to produce. It in essence is about the challenges of fatherhood. The movie cites research studies that indicate a high correlation between crime and individuals who grow up in fatherless households (or households where the father did not play an active role). The movie takes you on a journey following five fathers. Most of these dads were part of the Georgia Police force, and work extremely hard by day, but by the time they get home, they have no energy for their families, especially their children. They consider themselves "good enough dads!" Well that is until one of the police officers loses his nine year old daughter in a car accident. Her death sends the family reeling and questioning life, reality, God, and the future. In fact, this is one of the first films I have seen that depicts the raw and very real feelings parents go through when grieving the loss of a child. Parts of the movie were almost impossible for us to watch, and at one point Peter got up and walked out of the theatre. He came back within five minutes, but needed space. When he returned, I asked him if he wanted to leave, and he said no.

I could sense Peter's level of discomfort during the movie, but as long as he was okay, then we decided to stick it out. Crying and all! However, it was worth it, because the story line was indeed quite powerful! I wish more fathers would be willing to sit down and assess their level of true involvement and commitment to their families. A commitment that must go beyond financial support in order to have a meaningful and a lasting impact on their children. Clinically, time and time again, I have observed that families who experience difficulties with their children, particularly sons, is due to an emotional disconnect between the father and the child. I am proud of this movie company for taking on this subject matter and for getting its audience to think and reflect. The sad part about all of this is that Peter was NEVER the kind of father who needed to see this movie to get pointers on fatherhood. Peter worked very hard by day, but also by night. When he came home from work, he never sat in front of the tv, computer, or read a book. He was a devoted dad, an engaged dad, and needed NO prompting to spend time with his son. That is the sad reality of our picture.

Here is the published synopsis of this movie:
Four men, one calling: To serve and protect. As law enforcement officers, Adam Mitchell, Nathan Hayes, David Thomson, and Shane Fuller are confident and focused. Yet at the end of the day, they face a challenge that none of them are truly prepared to tackle: fatherhood. While they consistently give their best on the job, good enough seems to be all they can muster as dads. But they're quickly discovering that their standard is missing the mark. When tragedy hits home, these men are left wrestling with their hopes, their fears, their faith, and their fathering. Can a new found urgency help these dads draw closer to God ... and to their children? Filled with action-packed police drama, COURAGEOUS is the fourth film from Sherwood Pictures, the movie making ministry of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia. Riveted moviegoers will once again find themselves laughing, crying, and cheering as they are challenged and inspired by everyday heroes who long to be the kinds of dads that make a lifelong impact on their children.  Protecting the streets is second nature to these men. Raising their children in a God-honoring way? That's courageous.

As many of my faithful readers know, since Mattie's death I have a very challenging time connecting with God and my religion. This movie, was financed by Sherwood Pictures, which is run by a Baptist church in Albany, GA. This company has produced three other movies, which I haven't seen, but I have included a link to the movie, which includes the trailer below for you to see. The father who lost his daughter in the movie, turned to God, and by doing so, became motivated to evaluate what God wanted from him as a person and as a father. It was a moving and spiritual journey to watch.
http://www.courageousthemovie.com/themovie

I admit I was interested in learning more about Sherwood Pictures tonight. So I googled them and found the link below if this interests you as well. I guess I am absolutely stunned that a movie like this is out there in the theatres, because I can assure you this is NOT something Hollywood would OR COULD have produced.
http://sherwoodpictures.com/how-we-do-it/