Tonight's picture was taken in January of 2009. Mattie loved to sit on the floor of his hospital room and play. With Mattie was Liza. Liza is a gem! She was a childlife volunteer and Mattie gravitated to her as soon as he met her. You need to understand that Mattie was discerning. He didn't just play with anyone, nor did he allow whomever wanted to enter his room, admittance. I will always remember Liza for many reasons. Liza has the cutest voice, a bit like Glinda the good witch in the Wizard of Oz. I just loved hearing her talk. Liza loved reading and she introduced Mattie to some wonderful children's books. Liza was versatile though and she could play with just about anything and she really was motivated to give Peter and I a break when she was there. So in my mind she is a sensitive and perceptive young woman. In this picture, Mattie was working with one of his other favorite toys (when not creating with LEGOs), digging through clay to unearth mock dinosaur bones. Pay attention though to Mattie's left leg. This was the ONLY appendage Mattie did not have surgery on, and as such, that leg and foot developed the strength and the agility of an arm and a hand. It is amazing how the mind and the body do compensate. Mattie's left leg was named George, YES both arms and legs developed names while he was fighting cancer. Actually the names were generated by Mattie's orthopaedic surgeon, but Mattie related to and adopted them. Mattie's arms were Sam and Harold, and Mattie's right leg was Steve and his left leg was George, or as we later called it, Curious George. The left leg was always exploring and reaching out at people and even into their pockets, which is why "curious" was the perfect adjective to describe George.
Quote of the day: Let your heart guide you. It whispers, so listen closely. ~ The Land Before Time
My friend Heidi asked me on Tuesday if I was going to attend zumba class today. I typically do not go on Thursdays, but when she mentioned it to me and I knew I had nothing scheduled this morning, I decided to go. I am glad I did! Exercising forces me out of our home, away from working for a bit, and interacting with people. It is through this class that I got reconnected with Jenny. Jenny is the instructor but she was also the room parent in Mattie's kindergarten class. Jenny is supporting the Foundation's walk this year in two ways, she is hosting a free zumba class at our May 20th Walk and is also donating 10 classes toward our annual raffle. I am very grateful to both forms of support and I am happy that I took a leap and decided to go to zumba class. I would have missed a lot if I hadn't tried it.
The other wonderful part about class is my connection with Heidi. Heidi and I have a lot in common and we are now working together on a girl scout troop project. Heidi's daughter is a girl scout and Heidi brought Mattie Miracle to the attention of the troop leaders. Needless to say, this group of 12 girls is raising money and with that money they are going to our local Build a Bear store and creating 100 teddy bears. These bears will be donated to Mattie Miracle, and together we will go to Georgetown University Hospital in February to distribute the bears to children. Stay tuned for more details. I will keep you posted along the way, but I am deeply moved how these young women are coming together to learn more about the Foundation and to help children with cancer.
My friend Ann went to Boston today to assist a family member battling cancer. Because she was going to be there all day, she asked me to help her with her children. In many ways, when I interact with children now, it is almost like a foreign experience. After all, I am not performing motherly duties on a regular basis, my afternoons are not filled with school pick ups, play dates, and school related activities. However, I always try as tonight's quote points out, to listen to my heart. Some days it is harder to hear, but even when it whispers I do try to pay attention. Typically though, around children, what whispers I figuratively hear are Mattie's. I remember what it was like raising him and the skills I developed by being his mother. Today's journey home in the car with Ann's two children was an absolute riot. Ann's son Michael is learning the names of all the bones in the human body. So literally we had an anatomy game going on in the car! Ann's daughter, Abbie was getting a kick out of this, and as I was playing along, I realized my anatomy which I studied in college and graduate school was still in my head.
As I was helping Abbie get ready for her gymnastics lesson, the fun continued. Abbie's hair needs to be tied back and out of her face for class, but we have our own routine with this. It too is a game. At one point, I reached for a hair brush and pretended the brush was actually talking to me and giving me a strategy for how to get Abbie to sit still so I could brush her hair. The thing is Abbie will eventually sit still to have her hair brushed, but not until the game is played out. This might sound strange perhaps to my readers, but it makes perfect sense to me. After the game was over, while Abbie was sitting getting her hair brushed, she asked me two questions. Basically she wanted to know how I understood her need to play a game before getting her hair brushed? To which I answered, "because I raised one just like you!" Her second question which she was dying to ask me was, "what strategy did the brush share with you?" She had me laughing hysterically! To play along, I made up a strategy which she found equally as funny.
So though I may not be raising Mattie now and have no children in my life, Mattie's seven years taught me MANY skills. When I listen to Mattie's inner voice within me, it makes me reflect on the fact that I could handle today because I was and will forever be the mother of a seven year old little boy who taught me skills beyond my years.