Tonight's picture was taken in October of 2002. Mattie was five months old and in this picture he was featured in one of his favorite things... tot wheels. Mattie loved when I took his walker outside into our commons area. He literally would race up and down in the space and cover as much territory as possible. Mind you he couldn't crawl (something he never did!) or naturally walk yet, but tot wheels gave him independence and he loved the freedom to move on his own! You can't see Mattie's face straight on here but his jacket and hat were designed to make him look like a cute puppy! The hat had a black nose on it and floppy ears. I loved this jacket and hat on Mattie and I remember it as if it were yesterday!
Quote of the day: The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life. ~ Robert Louis Stevenson
The funny part about Stevenson's quote is you don't realize how special the ORDINARY and daily tasks are until you are unable to do them. Peter and I found this out the hard way. Being a parent is a challenging occupation, it is a 24 by 7 proposition, that leaves little to no time to be an adult or to even remember who you are on some days. This afternoon, Peter and I met a family for lunch. This family lost their oldest of two children to brain cancer last year. At lunch, they brought their son with them, who is three. Seeing this little fellow in action reminded me of Mattie. None of what this little guy was doing today surprised me from his energy level to his desire to play with cars, trains, and planes! I may not be raising a child now, but I remember those "daily duties" and "common work." However, there is something very uncommon and special in common work, and yet we take it for granted while doing it. As I observed this child eating today, I realized how our dining experiences now are just so different. They are quiet, at times lonely (because we know what we are missing), and in many ways it is as if we lost the child rearing years, and are now empty nesters. Except our nest is permanently empty and there is no Mattie to even call and check in with.
During lunch I realized that we had a lot in common with this couple. Certainly the cornerstone being that we both lost a child to cancer, and in the process we also experienced other losses. We lost some of our friends. Even close friends. It has been an interesting life lesson, sometimes your closest friends just can't be there for you during the battle, or perhaps those you went through the battle with and you thought would be there for you always, no longer are. We talked about how the battle may just wear friendships out and particularly now that our children are gone, friends do not know how to talk with us. So the worst happens, things aren't discussed and instead distance ensues between relationships. It is a complex dynamic, but a dynamic that indeed happens. Losing a close friend who you thought would always be there for you in a way provides its own form of devastation, especially when you feel you have lost so much already.
When we got home from lunch, again I went into cleaning out mode. This massive cleaning out process began last February and March, and then I gave up. That is until this February. Today I tackled our linen closet and my desk. However, what I have determined is the more I clean out, the more I feel needs to be done. It is a vicious cycle.