Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2009 at Mattie's seventh and last birthday. Mattie celebrated his actual birthday in the Hospital surrounded by his close friends. Pictured with Mattie is Brandon. Brandon was Mattie's big buddy. Despite the age difference, these two were friends, and I think they both met a need in one another. Mattie looked up to Brandon but also felt that Brandon understood how he felt. Mattie did not let many people into his life in the hospital, particularly other patients. But Brandon was different. Brandon will always be a special person to me, and I know a part of Mattie lives on within him.
Quote of the day: In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. ~ Albert Einstein
My close friend Karen today sent me an email that absolutely had me laughing. She basically told me my schedule in any given day is NUTS! As I sit down tonight and reflect on my day, I hate to admit it but Karen is sometimes correct! I began my day at Georgetown University Hospital. I met with Linda (Mattie's Child Life Specialist) and we brainstormed ideas about the Foundation's Walk. Linda is helping me with various walk components and I thoroughly appreciate her support and energy she brings to everything she does. After my meeting with Linda, I then met up with Brandon and Toni (Brandon's mom) at the hospital for lunch. I know many of my faithful readers ask me how Brandon is doing. Brandon is doing fine, he has no evidence of disease, and we hope that Brandon's physical battle with cancer will forever be behind him. However, Brandon does contend with late-effects from treatment and naturally there are also psychosocial issues with being a cancer survivor.
Toni and Brandon made a large birthday drive donation to Mattie Miracle, and soon, I will be compiling all the items we received and delivering them to the hospital. I had a lovely time catching up with Brandon and Toni, exchanging stories, and reflecting on our treatments together!
From the hospital, I then drove to Alexandria, where I met up with Donna, one of the kindergarten teachers at Mattie's school. While in Donna's classroom, I was visited by the "Magic Man" or better known as Mattie's head of the lower school, and Leslie, Mattie's kindergarten teacher. Leslie, Donna, and I had a wonderful chat about friendships, people, as well as grief. Though I do not talk with these women often, they got it right away when I told them that our trip away to the beach was fraught with all sorts of emotional issues. There is a great deal to be said for feeling understood, even when you know that another person can't possibly feel what you are going through. After I set up for tomorrow's art lecture and hands on activity of Picasso, Donna and I sat down, had tea and chatted. My visit to Mattie's school is always stimulating. I love learning about new technologies within the classroom, or new teaching styles, and tonight, I was introduced to "math trees." I attached a link of what a math tree looks like
I also attached a picture of such a tree. Basically a math tree allows one to assess various possible choices or outcomes for an event. The case Donna and I were working on, involved figuring out how many different combinations of ice cream cones we could produce if the givens were that we had three different ice cream flavors and each cone had three scoops of ice cream on it. When Donna first spoke to me about this, my head started spinning. But then she took out the ice cream cut outs and I started fiddling with them. I never learned about math trees, I used almost a punnet square system to cross combinations when I was growing up. So I first had to see examples of a math tree to get the concept. At one point, I was going to call my mom and Karen and have them just tell me the answer. But I was persistent and finally got it. I was able to determine through a tree that if I went into an ice cream store and they only had three flavors to choose from, I could get those three flavors in at least 27 different scoop combinations on a cone. For the mathematically inclined I know this is simple.
When I got home this evening, I started baking goodies for the class tomorrow. After each lecture, I have the kids taste a snack reflective of the culture of the artist. So the first week when we cover Picasso, I make fruit filled empanadas for the children and in the second week when we cover Matisse, I bake for the kids pain au chocolat!
I would like to end tonight's blog with a message from our friend and Mattie's oncologist. Kristen wrote, "This last week has been rough on you I am sure. I was thinking of you both earlier today. I don't know how you lived in the hospital for nearly 13 months nor do I know how you give so much of yourselves each day to make the world a better place for children and families of children who have cancer. I feel so humbled by what you do, by what you have been through, and by what you continue to go through..I just wanted you to know. Thinking of you this Tuesday and everyday."