Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2009, during the Mattie March. I missed this whole interchange, but apparently each player on the St. Stephen's and St. Agnes baseball team came up to greet Mattie that day. While that was going on in the right hand side of the picture, on the left hand side you can see someone was pushing Mattie's wheelchair. That would be Brandon, Mattie's big buddy. We never asked Brandon to do this, he willingly stayed with Mattie that day and did what best buddies do, stick together. While Mattie was undergoing treatment, he told Toni (Brandon's mom) that Brandon was his best friend. Brandon understood cancer because he lived through it, and also knew what it was like to live in a hospital for weeks on end. Those commonalities helped to bond them together, despite their age differences. Next to Brandon in the picture is Tricia. Tricia, as my faithful readers know, was one of Mattie's extraordinary HEM/ONC nurses. Tricia will always hold a special place in my heart because besides being extremely competent as a nurse, she has a heart of gold, and can hold her own while advocating for a patient. So though this just looks like a simple picture with a teen in uniform knocking fists with Mattie, there was actually a whole lot more going on in this picture.
Quote of the day: It is often during the worst of times that we see the best of humanity - awakening within the most ordinary of us that which is most sublime. ~ Richard Paul Evans
This afternoon, I had the opportunity to visit Ann's mom, Mary. I met Mary in December of 2008, at her 80th birthday party. A lot has happened to us in these past three years. Mattie battled cancer and died, Mary and I experienced her husband's death, we are both dealing with grief, and a host of physical ailments. We are very different people and yet cancer and grief connect us. It is most likely this connection which motivates me to visit her and keep her company when her daughter is out of town. Since I have known Mary, I have observed a steady decline in her physical and cognitive states. However, this year alone, Mary's condition seems to have reached an all time low. Mary is for the most part mute and on the rare occasion when she is able to talk, it almost sounds like she is talking to you in another language. It is challenging to see someone like this, especially someone I have gotten to know and who I enjoyed talking with. It would be much easier for me to justify not visiting her and rationalizing it off by saying that she won't remember my presence there. But this is where thankfully emotions trump logic. Caring for someone in a nursing home and making frequent visits are deeply seeded in emotions. If it weren't then I suspect most healthy people would be running the other way from these facilities and not looking back.
So though Mary and I no longer have two way conversations, I still believe it is important for her to hear me talking and to be stimulated. So I read to her! As I have mentioned already, in March I began reading Richard Paul Evan's Christmas Box Trilogy to Mary. We have completed The Christmas Box and The Timepiece, and today we began the third book in the trilogy, The Letter. As I began reading this book, I quickly surmised that this whole trilogy was meant for me. It is a series that follows a married couple through the loss of their only child, Andrea (who died in a fire at age 3). The first several chapters of this book had me engrossed. Engrossed because it was almost as if Evans wrote it for me. The book illustrates through Mary and David (a couple we have gotten to know from the first two parts of the trilogy) how challenging a child's death is on a marriage. Mary and David grieve differently, need different things, and in the process have migrated apart from each other. So much so, that Mary decides that after months of living estranged lives with each other, she needs to move out and separate from her husband. In true Evans fashion he is weaving a tale to show us how grief and loss can powerfully transform people and relationships. However, as it is true with all loving, committed, and devoted relationships, they are not always rosy. Every relationship has problems, disagreements, major differences, and at times misunderstandings. Some relationships fizzle out, but others take this adversity and grow and change from it. In the tale of The Letter, Mary and I have hundreds of pages to read and absorb in order to learn how through such great heartache, Mary and David can find healing, growth, and each other. If you want to read more about the book, go to:
Today I wrapped three more raffle baskets. This brings me up to a total of 12 complete and only ONE MORE to go!!! Like the last two nights, I have included pictures of the baskets for you to see along with only a listing of the bigger ticketed items within each basket. I appreciate so many of you going to our on-line raffle ticket website and checking out the items and purchasing tickets!!!
1) Ultrazone Laser Tag Party for 102) Shadowland - Up to 12 Player Mega Arcade Birthday Party
3) Luray Caverns – 2 Ticket Admissions
4) Fairfax Ice Arena – 5 passes for a day on the ice and skate rental
5) 20 PEV’s Paintball passes
6) Sportrock Climbing Center – 8 open belay climbs
7) Build-a-Bear (Bear, Birth Certificate, and $10 Gift Certificate)
American Girl Doll “Girl of the Year” Basket
1) Girl of the Year Doll – McKenna 2) $50 Gift Certificate to American Girl Store/Café 3) Book 4) School Outfit 5) Pajamas 6) Rain boots and Umbrella 7) Brush 8) McKenna's Dog 9) American Girl Tote bag 10) Doll sized tote bag 11) Sporty Wristlet 12) Hairstyle helper (bag with clips and elastic bands) 13) Raspberry colored glasses 14) Sunglasses 15) Casual watch set
1) 2 Tickets to mutually agreed upon game – seats directly below owner’s box (winner needs to contact donor by August 2012) 2) Autographed Mike Knuble Caps Game Hockey Sticks 3) 2XL Caps T-shirt 4) Washington Capitals Cap 5) Mike Knuble signed Bobblehead