Tonight's picture was taken at Mattie's first birthday party. Mattie was a HUGE Elmo (Sesame Street Character) fan, and therefore it just made sense to decorate and do an Elmo themed party that year! Mattie always loved the color red and where ever Mattie was in our home, he would stop in his tracks to hear Elmo. As you can see in this picture, Mattie was fascinated by his Elmo cake and literally was reaching out for it, most likely to put his hands right into the frosting.
Quote of the day: The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers, and cities; but to know someone here and there who thinks and feels with us, and though distant, is close to us in spirit, this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden. ~ Goethe
There were two options for today. One was either to bury one's self in thoughts and sadness, or two, try to do something with the day. Since Peter was already up by the time I awoke, that motivated me to get moving and see what he wanted to do today. As it is Mattie's tenth birthday, I can't help but realize that our day would look very different if he were alive. Instead we have to remove ourselves from our daily reality to be able to cope with the profound nature of the day. I want to thank so many of you for contributing to the Foundation between yesterday and today in honor of Mattie's birthday and of course for all the emails of remembrance. I will explain our day through the pictures below.
Yesterday while driving to Delaware, we passed rows and rows of beautiful forsythia along the road. Typically we do not see the forsythia because of the time of year we visit the area, so this was a real visual surprise.
Those of you who know me well, know I love black and white cows. I have for the longest time, I am not sure why, perhaps it is the contrast of color. As Peter was driving yesterday on our journey, I managed to take this photo. I am surprised that it wasn't blurry especially since the car was moving.
Last night, at dusk, we walked through Ellen's neighborhood. I like to walk at that time of day because without disappointment, I always see bunnies. Last night, this huge bunny was crossing the road, and I snapped a picture! Mattie would have absolutely LOVED this! I remember one year we rented a house in Duck, NC. The house was in a neighborhood with a lot of vegetation. At dusk, the bunnies would come out, and Mattie simply loved this special treat. A treat that we would never be able to see living in the heart of Washington, DC. So in honor of Mattie, we go bunny seeking at dusk!
After spotting the bunny, we then walked to the ocean. Mattie Moon was there right above the ocean to greet us!
This is the first sight Peter saw this morning, which rang in Mattie's birthday. This was the sunrise Peter could see from Ellen's deck.
When I got up this morning, Peter encouraged me to take a walk on the beach. Some people need coffee in the morning to function, I need a hot shower. So it was a first for me to just fling on clothes and go out walking. But I did it. Along our journey, we were greeted by a seagull who seemed to be the welcoming committee to the beach. While walking, I spotted a horse shoe crab stuck in the sand, with no possible way to get back into the water. So Peter picked up this fellow, and walked him back to the ocean. Several residents were on the beach, and apparently were watching us. They later came over to thank us for a job well done! Rather funny I think!!!
Though I felt lethargic, Peter suggested we try to bicycle ride on Cape Henlopen State Park. We did this last May and enjoyed it so much that I was happy to do it again. With an admission fee to the park, you can get access to bicycles for free which is a lovely way to see the park.
Along our bicycle ride, we saw such lovely scrub pines and other beach-like vegetation that instantly alerted us to our new terrain.
Along the bicycle path, I saw this beautiful forsythia bush and jumped off the bicycle to get a picture with it. The forsythia makes Cape Henlopen look like it is glowing!
At the end of our bicycle journey, we saw Lewes Light! This was a first for me, since last May we did not make it this far along the trail. I am a lighthouse affectionato, I love their history, their structure, the stories behind them, the families and people who operated them, and of course the fact that they are considered the guardians of the sea.
After bicycle riding, Peter took me to Dairy Queen. If you want to see an instant smile on my face, you just need to buy me ice cream. We had vanilla ice cream in honor of Mattie! As we were driving back to Ellen's home, we passed a lovely farm, with its beautiful irrigation system working its magic.
This afternoon, I prepared lunch, and we took it with us to the beach and sat, watched the waves, and ate. While walking to the beach, with camera in tow, I snapped a beautiful flower bed which I entitle, "spring has sprung!" I just loved the composition and colors.
When I got home from the beach today, I received a fluttering of emails from my friend Tina. In one email, Tina sent me this picture and in the body of the message it said, "love you!" What this means, was it is a message of love from Mattie. As Tina knows, I seem to connect the sighting of butterflies with the spirit and presence of Mattie. So today I received an electronic message of love.
However, the pictures from Tina kept coming. She then sent me pictures of bees! Mattie loved all kinds of bugs, and I was trying to determine what these pictures were trying to tell me. Then I received a couple of text messages from Ann. She was sending me pictures besides Mattie's remembrance tree. So I put two and two together and realized Tina and Ann were together.
Tina went to a floral supply store and found these charming and playful bugs in honor of Mattie. Tina is a very sentimental type like myself, and she took it upon herself to find a way to acknowledge Mattie's tenth birthday. What better way than by going to Mattie's oak tree and decorating it with bugs. Ann and Tanja joined Tina as they remembered Mattie together! This is a fascinating oak tree. In the winter it does NOT lose its leaves. The leaves dry out red, but they never fall off the tree. Then in the spring, I suppose the old leaves fall off and the new leaves are born. But this tree is NEVER barren. As my faithful readers know, I have nicknamed Mattie's tree the Twinkling Tree. Over the years, I have placed many wonderful ornaments on it, that the tree has a glimmering life of its own!
When the kindergartners saw Tina, Ann, and Tanja, decorating the tree, they came over to help and admire the tree.
Here is a picture of the Twinkling Tree! You may be able to see the blue butterflies on it that I made in honor of Mattie's second anniversary (September 8, 2011), and red pine cones I placed on the tree for Christmas of 2011. However, the tree also hosts origami cranes that my dear friend Junko and her mom made for Mattie's first anniversary of his death in 2010, a bird house my mother-in-law gave me for the tree, a wind chime, and a beautiful golden butterfly our preschool friend Erica gave us for the tree in Christmas of 2010. All the pieces on this tree have meaning. Which is why Tina's gesture today to add bugs is so thoughtful and symbolic. Mattie does not have a grave site, but the symbol of his life is alive and well on his school's campus. A symbol which can be visited not just by us, but by all who knew and loved him.
Ann sent me this beautiful picture today. This plaque sits right by Mattie's tree, but the new addition to it were all the playful bugs around the plaque. Mattie would have thought this was very funny, but I look upon it not as funny, but as the impact my son had on the adults in his life.
I would like to end tonight's birthday posting with some of the messages I received. The first message came to me yesterday from Mattie's head of school. Joan wrote, "I know that Mattie's birthday is tomorrow. His light still shines brightly at our school! Thinking of you and Peter."
The second message is from Katie, a Child Life specialist at Georgetown University Hospital who has been working closely with me and the Girl Scouts. Katie wrote, "Just wanted you to know that I am thinking about you today since it is Mattie's birthday. Even though I never met Mattie, I feel like I am getting to know him through you both. He was such a lucky boy to have such great parents. Thank you for all you do for the Child Life department at Georgetown. You both continue to amaze me in all that you do for us and the families that we service. I hope you are enjoying your time at the beach!"
The third message is from Mattie's art teacher. Debbie wrote, "Thinking of you on Mattie's birthday and most every day!"
The fourth message is from our friend Debbie, who also happens to be our co-chair of the children's activities committee for the Foundation Walk (three years in a row!). Debbie wrote, "We Keefe's are thinking of Mattie on his birthday. Thank you for the lessons you teach us about how to live life . What a wonderful tribute to your son!"
The fifth message is from our friend and instrumental leader of Team Mattie. Alison wrote, "You are in my thoughts and prayers, everyday, but never more than on special occasions, like today. Hard to believe ten years have passed since Mattie was born. I'm sure in some ways it seems like yesterday, in some ways like a million years ago, and in still other ways, as though it was all a dream. I know that it will be a very difficult day, but I hope that you are able to remember the happiness this day brought you with the arrival of your special angel - the joy and smiles and even the tears. Here's hoping Mattie is smiling in heaven, surrounded by vanilla frosted cupcakes."
The sixth message is from my friend and freshman college roommate. Leslie wrote, "I've been following all your wonderful foundation activities on your blog. You should be very proud and exhausted! I got up this morning and realized it was the 4th and thus Mattie's birthday. So I wanted to send an email to let you know I am thinking of both of you today."
The final message is from our friend and Mattie Miracle Board member. Tamra wrote, "Today is the birthday of a beautiful boy who impacted so many with spunk, genius, sweetness, tough, bravery, cupcake connoisseur gregarious, lost too soon. Ken, Louise, Meredith and I honor his birthday and will never forget our friend. In memory of Mattie. We love you with all of our hearts."