Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2008. Mattie was home and recovering from his second surgery. We had a hospital bed in our living room, and our whole downstairs was transformed. Clearly this picture was taken before we boarded Patches permanently at the vet for over a year (because we couldn't care for her while away at the hospital for weeks on end). Patches was thrilled that we were all home back then and quickly made herself comfortable next to Mattie. That was one very, very difficult recovery time for Mattie. However, as a mother and as a clinician, I knew something was NOT right with him. I diagnosed Mattie with PTSD during that recovery period. It took me quite some time to convince his doctors of this remotely, until they had the opportunity to experience what I was reporting first hand when he came back to the clinic post-recovery. Needless to say, Mattie had a torturous recovery time, and somehow I always associate the Thanksgiving season with Mattie's extreme pain and psychological trauma.
Quote of the day: I try to remind myself that we are never promised anything, and that what control we can exert is not over the events that befall us but how we address ourselves to them. ~ Jeanne DuPrau
My Dad sent me tonight's quote and it resonates with me. I have certainly learned the hard way that nothing is promised to us in life and most definitely we do not control the events that happen to us. At best the only thing we do have control over is how we think, feel, and act as we face and cope with life's circumstances. Peter and I could easily retreat from the world and spend our days bitter, angry, and mad at the world. Honestly at times that seems justified, however, the Foundation is our commitment to rise above these feelings and to make some sort of difference. This is how we "address ourselves" to the aftermath of childhood cancer.
I woke up this morning and was in one of those moods which sent me right back to bed. As the day wore on, I did get up and was motivated to call my mom to wish her a happy birthday. We had a chance to catch up and I got to hear about my parent's Thanksgiving.
Peter and I made plans earlier in the week to visit Becca. Becca is an executive chef at Clyde's. In fact, she used to work at Mattie's favorite restaurant in Alexandria, but has now moved to the Clyde's location in Tyson's Corner. Becca is the chef who donated all the food to our 2011 Foundation Walk, and then not only gave us the food, but grilled it on site that day, and served it to our Walk participants. Becca's food was an absolute hit and we saw an incredible increase in food sales this year. Profits which only further help meet the psychological and social needs of children with cancer. Our goal for visiting Becca today was to let her know that we appreciate her and are thankful for her support of our Foundation's mission. I emailed Becca earlier in the week to let her know that we were coming to visit for lunch today. When we got to the restaurant, she came out of the kitchen to greet us and sat with us for quite some time. I am enjoying the opportunity to get to know Becca as a person not only as a chef. Each time I meet her it becomes further evident to me that this is a woman with not only many skills, but with a deep and compassionate heart. Becca treated us to lunch today at her restaurant, something I wasn't expecting. I wanted her to feel special, and instead what happened is she did that for Peter and I. She said to us that she is thankful for having us in her life. All I can say is WOW! After all, keep in mind that Becca never met Mattie, but she does know about his battle and our affection for Clyde's at the Mark Center (where Mattie loved to eat).
Becca has already placed our Foundation Walk date (Sunday, May 20, 2012) on her calendar and is committed to helping us again this year. As I told her tonight, she is a very special person and I wish the world was filled with more people like her because it would make it a much more beautiful and peaceful place to live. Becca made our day and perhaps our Thanksgiving season, and she further illustrates the extraordinary people who have entered our lives because of Mattie. Needless to say, Peter and I were energized from our connection today.
The ironic part about all of this is I had emailed Karen earlier today about meeting up with Becca. Karen felt quite certain that Becca would want to partner with us again this year. Karen had observed our Walk participants interacting with Becca this year, and she said it was a positive interchange for both parties. Karen got me to step back and see that Becca probably appreciates the opportunity to actually interact with her customers, since she can't always do this when working in the kitchen of her restaurant. I never thought about that but given that Becca is very personable and gregarious, I think our Walk gives her the opportunity to cook for others but also interact with them. Putting that aside, Becca's heart and motivations are truly genuine and when you find a rare gem like this, I immediately want to embrace them and have them on my team!
I would like to end tonight's posting with a message from my friend and colleague. Nancy wrote, "I read the blog this morning and felt great warmth. The love and frustration that Peter and you felt while taking care of Mattie and now yourselves was revealed in a concise, meaningful way. It is this truthfulness that makes the blog a "go - to" piece of many people's day. You are so giving to Mary. She is lucky to have you and in some ways, you, her. She provides a missing link with your grandmother, I suspect. What I mean by this, is that your Grandmother died when you were so young. It was a difficult time for all of you and your Mom got sick herself. Here you can minister to Mary and have some distance. I appreciated your comments about neurological issues and the elderly. It brought back memories of times with Mom, albeit frustrating for me at the time, yet, explained here by you, gives me pause that I did do the best I could to help and care for her. I realize that your sharing about the lights and Peter's continuation of this tradition had to be very emotional. Peter is such a sensitive person and his action speaks volumes of his loss and missing Mattie. Once again I am reminded of the resiliency of human beings. Holidays at home are so challenging in the face of loss and being able to remove oneself from the loss, even for a bit, is the healthiest way to deal with the memories. I'm glad that you had this time with Tamra's daughters and family. Thinking of you today, always and in all ways."