Mattie Miracle 10th Anniversary Walk was an $119,000 success!

Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation Promotional Video

Thank you for keeping Mattie's memory alive!

Dear Mattie Blog Readers,

It means a great deal to us that you take the time to write to us and to share your thoughts, feelings, and reflections on Mattie's battle and death. Your messages are very meaningful to us and help support us through very challenging times. To you we are forever grateful. As my readers know, I promised to write the blog for a year after Mattie's death, which would mean that I could technically stop writing on September 9, 2010. However, at the moment, I feel like our journey with grief still needs to be processed and fortunately I have a willing support network still committed to reading. Therefore, the blog continues on. If I should find the need to stop writing, I assure you I will give you advanced notice. In the mean time, thank you for reading, thank you for having the courage to share this journey with us, and most importantly thank you for keeping Mattie's memory alive.


As Mattie would say, Ooga Booga (meaning, I LOVE YOU)! Vicki and Peter



The Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation celebrates its 7th anniversary!

The Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation was created in the honor of Mattie.

We are a 501(c)(3) Public Charity. We are dedicated to increasing childhood cancer awareness, education, advocacy, research and psychosocial support services to children, their families and medical personnel. Children and their families will be supported throughout the cancer treatment journey, to ensure access to quality psychosocial and mental health care, and to enable children to cope with cancer so they can lead happy and productive lives. Please visit the website at: www.mattiemiracle.com and take some time to explore the site.

We have only gotten this far because of people like yourself, who have supported us through thick and thin. So thank you for your continued support and caring, and remember:

.... Let's Make the Miracle Happen and Stomp Out Childhood Cancer!

A Remembrance Video of Mattie

September 1, 2012

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Saturday, September 1, 2012


Tonight's picture was taken on April 4, 2002, the day Mattie was born. Mattie and I were in labor together for 26 hours, and yet from my perspective (mind you I am biased) he was born a beautiful and perfect baby. I can assure you he looked a lot better than I did at that hour!


Quote of the day: What is love after all but trusting in the unknown. ~ Marty Rubin




Today we ventured to Concord, New Hampshire. Which is about an hour's drive from Boston. The town is very charming and walkable. In a way the town invites you to explore its streets and history. Peter's parents like to antique shop, and when I was living in Boston in the 1990s, I too would go on their adventures, and began many of my own collections. Before Mattie was born, I developed quite an extensive glass collection. In addition, I also have quite a collection of china patterns. I have at least seven patterns that easily come to my mind right now. I love the art of china, glass, and pottery! Not to mention antique jewelry. So I can hold my own antique shopping to say the least. We all had a good time searching for collectibles and having lunch in town.  

After lunch we continued walking in town and we landed up at the Granite State Candy Shoppe. This was like NO other candy shop I have been in. They literally make all their products on site, along with their ice cream. As soon as you walked into the store, it smelled like chocolate heaven. I am disappointed I did not think of snapping a picture of this store, but my senses will remember it for a long time to come! Literally there were rows and rows of home made chocolates in all sorts of shapes and sizes! I couldn't resist and bought several items, along with ice cream. Outside the store, I snapped a picture of Peter with his parents. Today is officially Peter's parents anniversary, so I felt that this day should be remembered.


When we came back to Boston, we took a walk around Horn Pond. I brought my camera today and Peter captured many of the wonderful sights along our walk. The first sight is of this swan with her cygnets (the gray swans and the babies).

I saw many glorious sunflowers in Giverny, and am entralled by these flowers. The ones you see in this photo are growing naturally by the pond. To me sunflowers are happy and also remind me of Mattie's battle with cancer. Many Team Mattie members would deliver me sunflowers to cheer me up during Mattie's battle, and I still remember those special deliveries of kindness.

Along our walk we also saw a Great Blue Heron.

It was a glorious weather day, and even the turtles were out catching the sun!

In honor of Mattie, Peter snapped this picture of a chipmunk, or as Mattie would call him, "Chippy!"

As our walk was coming to an end, we were greeted by this beautiful monarch. Another symbol that connects me with Mattie. There were aspects of our day yesterday that still bring me great sadness upon reflection, but these signs from nature today helped me reconnect with our memory of Mattie.

August 31, 2012

Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday, August 31, 2012


Tonight's picture was taken on April 4, 2002, the day Mattie was born. Mattie came into this world VERY alert and all his Apgar scores were high. All the indications that he was a healthy baby. Peter went with Mattie into the nursery to be cleaned up and weighed, while I remained in the operating room. In the process of giving birth to Mattie, his doctor found a tumor the size of a grapefruit on my bladder. So immediately after the c-section, I had bladder surgery. Though I had my own issues, I wanted Peter to be with Mattie. It was on that day, that I saw how vital a role an anesthesiologist plays within surgery. Dr. Mike will forever remain in my memory, because he did not only deal with my pain management, he was my surgery coach and talked me through everything that was happening to me, since I was conscious for the entire surgery.


Quote of the day: We must look for the opportunity in every difficulty, instead of being paralyzed at the thought of the difficulty in every opportunity. ~ Walter Cole



























We began our day by walking with Peter's parents around their local pond, called Horn Pond. This pond is an mini oasis in the middle of the town, not unlike our Roosevelt Island. The pond attracts all sorts of wildlife and birds. We saw Great Blue Herons, geese, swans, ducks, and turtles. I just couldn't get over the aggressive nature of the swans, they had no problem taking on the geese or hissing at us if we got in their way.

We did various things today from shopping, seeing some sights around town, and then we met up with Peter's brother and his family for dinner. We got together as a family to celebrate Peter's parents anniversary. We ate at a restaurant in Newton, MA. Going to Newton always reminds me of my days attending Boston College, which isn't far from Newton's town center. In a way, it is like a walk back in time for me, or as I usually refer to it as.... easier times. We have two lives in a way, a precancer life and a postcancer life. When we sat down at dinner tonight, we had made a reservation for nine people, yet they sat us at a table for 10. It was glaringly obvious to me who should have been in this tenth seat! I am not sure if the restaurant just made a mistake by setting a table with one too many seats, or if this was a subtle message sent to us by Mattie. 

At dinner with us were our two nephews and our niece. We have watched them grow up over the years and yet when I am with them, I feel the absence of Mattie even more profoundly. It is also then in which I see just how different our lives are, and also how different our futures will be. Once I had Mattie, I assumed that our home would be bustling with family and friend activities as well as holiday gatherings. Not unlike how I grew up. I like to cook and I also like to host parties, but these two things seemed to have died right along with Mattie. Mattie's death is a grave loss, but the loss trickles down to every aspect of our lives. It is hard to accept this change, a change we never asked for, and at times it is hard to be able to put this into context and accept that others are happy, that their lives continue, and that they get to see their children happy, healthy, and evolving. A gift we were not given. If Mattie were only in that 10th chair tonight, our lives would be quite different today.   

August 30, 2012

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Today's picture was taken in April of 2002, a day or two after Mattie was born. Labor and delivery was complicated for me, and therefore, we remained in the hospital for five days. As we approach, September 8, the day Mattie died, I feel it is appropriate to go back to Mattie's newborn days and share that happier time with you.


Quote of the day: Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile. ~ Albert Einstein


Peter and I are packing up again, this time to go on a road trip to Boston, Massachusetts. Peter's parents are celebrating a milestone anniversary this Saturday and their one request was that both of their sons be there to celebrate it with them. I tried getting there by plane or train, but the cost of tickets for Labor Day weekend were outrageous. So instead, we will be driving, which I am sure will have its own excitement.

I spent part of yesterday preparing the blog for the next five days. Going away doesn't only involve packing and boarding Patches, but it also involves blog work. I have noticed after our two week trip, our dear Patches has come back from the vet an absolute mess. She is howling and crying throughout the day and night (so no sleep is happening this week for us!). She gets very anxious when we are away. I feel guilty each time I board her, but as a sickly cat, she needs access to medical attention if we are not around to observe her.

We will be in the car all day today, so I decided to post today's submission early. Tomorrow evening, I will be writing to you from Boston. Thanks for checking in with us and it is my hope that all our readers have a good Labor Day weekend.
 

August 29, 2012

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2002. Mattie was five months old. All over his face was rice cereal, one of his favorite things to eat. You will notice however that Mattie was eating in his car seat. That is because he despised his high chair. He ate in his car seat up until the day he did not fit in it anymore, and then eventually he learned to tolerate the high chair. I just love the smile in this picture, and as Peter jokes with me all the time, it was a Mattie smile that was only reserved for me.
 

Quote of the day: It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up. ~ Vince Lombardi


The third anniversary of Mattie's death is quickly approaching. With that a whole host of emotions swirl around in my head. When I am in one of these emotional moods, I can easily come to certain conclusions and decisions. One of the decisions I was thinking about was ending the blog on September 8, 2012. My family cautioned me as I was making this decision because they felt that my motivation for ending the blog wasn't for the right reasons. Nonetheless, I have been writing daily since July of 2008. DAILY! When Mattie was alive, there was a real purpose to my writing, my goal was to inform our community on Mattie's treatment and progress. The first year after Mattie died, the purpose was to remain connected with our community and to share our grief together. However, over the years the nature and purpose for the blog has changed and evolved, and with that I have taken stock on why am I writing the blog now? Who am I writing it for? Me or others? Perhaps the blog's purpose was always for both me and for others, and now I think the same applies. Except I would add that currently the blog is for me, others, and MATTIE. Writing the blog is very tied up into my relationship with Mattie. Somehow writing enables me to keep him alive and ever present in my life. I think to some extent stopping the blog is symbolic of a true death of Mattie in my mind. Some of you nurture you real children daily, whereas I am left to nurture mine through writing. So until I can come to some conclusions and understandings about my own feelings, I will continue to write.

With that said, today I received an email from a mom all the way from Manila, in the Philippines. It turns out that this mom has been reading Mattie's blog from its inception all the way up through today. I was so touched by this and very honored to receive her thoughts, feelings, and feedback. She wrote to me because she is looking for some resources to help her friend's daughter who was diagnosed this summer with Ewings Sarcoma, a type of bone cancer. In a way this mom's email was a great gift to me because she helped me to see how my writings are and continue to make a difference to others. Others who I may not even know are reading. In a way this email couldn't have come at a better time, when I feel I am at a crossroads with my own writing.

I also had an email exchange today with my friend Carolyn (our Foundation's raffle chair). Carolyn's children just started a new school this week, and she was reflecting with me how her daughter became friends this week with a girl named Maddie and her son became friends with a boy named Brandon. Naturally I got what she was telling me immediately.... Maddie and Brandon!!! Not unlike my Mattie and his big buddy Brandon! What are the chances of this coincidence? I am not sure, but Carolyn is sure that Mattie has been intervening here and I have come to believe that anything is possible. However, what I most appreciate about Carolyn's email is two fold. She knows that transitions back from vacation to home are always challenging for me and she is also aware of the fact that school is starting for all of Mattie's friends, and yet this isn't a part of my life anymore. Her reaching out to me made me feel appreciated and it also made me feel that Mattie was, on a very spiritual level, involved with her children's school process.

At some point during my day today, I was walking through the George Washington University Campus. While walking I bumped into our former department chair. We stopped and spoke for a while, and she immediately knew that Mattie's third year anniversary was next week. I am not sure how she remembered that, but somehow I feel better knowing that we are not alone in this. That others remember, that others reflect, and most importantly that others find the courage to acknowledge and say something to us.   

August 28, 2012

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tuesday, August 28, 2012 -- Mattie died 155 weeks ago today.


Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2002. Mattie was three months old. When I came across this picture today, I chuckled. I laughed because so many moms swore by this bouncing seat. Basically this chair had batteries in it, so it would bounce up and down and also play music on its own. I remember being desperate to find something Mattie would sit in for half of a second, other than my arms. So I decided to purchase this chair. What a terrible mistake! Mattie hated it! He hated being seat belted into it and in all reality I think I could count on one hand how many times he used this chair.


Quote of the day: Life offers its wisdom generously. Everything teaches. Not everyone learns. ~ Rachel Naomi Remen


I think there is a lot of truth in tonight's quote. One of the incredible aspects of life is that there is always something to learn at every turn. One just needs to be open to it. I think as we age, we can fall into some false sense of complacence, thinking that we understand and know how the world works and that we understand those around us. However, focusing solely upon human dynamics, I think it is safe to say that there is a lesson to be learned everyday. Because of the complexities of each individual, it would be impossible to think that we know how someone is feeling or doing 100% of the time. Based on the experience and history we may have with a person, we may expect certain patterns and reactions from that individual. Nonetheless, the beauty of human connections is that they are fluid, changeable, and most of all require work, patience, compassion, and care. To stop learning, to be closed off to another's opinions and feelings, and to think one knows as much as possible about a particular field or subject, in so many ways signals to me a lack of wisdom. Wisdom is not necessarily knowing every fact possible, but it is seeing the beautiful opportunities within things and others around us, embracing them, and trying to learn from them.

I went back to my zumba class today, and it was a good way to start the day. I could have easily skipped the class, since I am all aches and pains from sitting at London's airport and on a plane for 16 hours straight, but I figured moving around would help. It did! After class, I went by to visit my friend Mary at her assisted living facility. Mary's caregiver was expecting me, and we all sat outside on the patio in the glorious weather for hours together. Seeing the sun and having warm weather are a welcomed change from the British Isles. Literally on our 15 day vacation, we had overcast weather and rain each day. Occasionally the sun would come out, but it never stayed out for long! This may explain why each of the countries we visited was so green and lush! However two weeks without sun was hard, so spending time outside today was a treat. Though Mary is unable to participate in our conversations, she enjoys hearing us talk about all sorts of things. While we were sitting outside, a woman and her family was sitting near us visiting a relative in the facility. This woman had a baby two weeks ago, and had the baby in her arms. I asked the woman to come over so Mary could see the infant. Mary loves children, and I had a feeling she would want to see this peaceful sight.

The woman sat down and chatted with us and was telling me how she is balancing a 20 month old and a newborn at home. She was talking about the unending laundry with a newborn, and I just nodded my head and tried to listen and empathize. She also told me her husband wanted a boy, but now has two girls instead. I told her I understood, but that as long as they are both healthy, it is a blessing. As I was looking at this newborn, I remembered Mattie at this stage. Some days it is hard to believe and accept that a healthy and active baby and child could develop cancer and die at age 7. After all, at two weeks old, he looked as healthy as the baby I saw today! I suppose this is not something I will ever comprehend, nor do I understand why Mattie or any other child for that matter is chosen to have cancer. I do sometimes pause though and wonder why some parents are forced to lose their children, not get the joys of watching them grow and develop, and in turn be singled out as DIFFERENT. Again, I have no answers, but on good days I can rationalize this, and on not such good days, it is easy to become bitter, angry, and resentful. Surviving the loss of a child is a daily battle of learning and processing, and the funny part is you just never know what things or people will trigger these learning moments.
 

August 27, 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012


Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2002. Mattie was three months old. If I had to give a title to this photo, it would be... "Do you hear what I hear?!" Even at a very young age Mattie was alert, curious, and inquisitive. He was born on and ready to go!




Quote of the day: Generosity is not giving me that which I need more than you do, but it is giving me that which you need more than I do. ~ Kahlil Gibran

As promised, I finally downloaded some of my photos of Monet's house and gardens onto the blog. I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I do. Monet's gardens were spectacular and I am not sure the photos do it justice. It was very special to be walking through the gardens that inspired the creativity of such a wonderful painter. Seeing his home and gardens help me to understand the inner beauty within the man. Monet's life was also touched by tragedy.... his first wife died of cancer, one of his son's was killed in a car accident, and he himself died of lung cancer. All facts I did not know, but facts which help me to relate to him even more.



There are two parts to Monet's garden: a flower garden called "Clos Normand" in front of his house and a Japanese inspired water garden, across the street from his house. The two parts of Monet's garden contrast and complement one another. This is a picture of Monet's Norman Garden ("Clos Normand"). When Monet and his family settled in Giverny in 1883 the piece of land sloping gently down from the house to the road was planted with an orchard and enclosed by high stone walls. A central alley bordered with pines separated it into two parts. Monet had the pines cut down and planted a garden full of perspectives, symmetries, and colors.



The land is divided into flowerbeds where flower clumps of different heights create volume. Monet mixed the simplest flowers (daisies and poppies) with the most rare varieties.

Claude Monet did not like organized nor constrained gardens. He married flowers according to their colors and left them to grow rather freely. He was quoted as saying, "All my money goes into my garden, but also I am in raptures."

In 1893, ten years after his arrival at Giverny, Monet bought the piece of land neighboring his property on the other side of the railway.Monet had the first small pond dug even though his neighbors were opposed. They were afraid that his strange plants would poison the water and thereby their animals. Later on the pond would be enlarged to its present day size. The water garden is full of asymmetries and curves. It is inspired by the Japanese gardens that Monet knew from the prints he collected avidly.



In this water garden you can see the famous Japanese bridge covered with wisterias, other smaller bridges, weeping willows, a bamboo wood and above all the famous water lilies which bloom all summer long.

Never before had a painter shaped his subjects in nature before painting them. In essence, he created his works twice (first by planting and staging his environment, and then by actually painting it). Monet found his inspiration in this water garden for more than twenty years.

Around 500,000 visitors discover Monet's gardens each year during the seven months that it is open.

Beauty as far as the eye can see!

After Claude Monet's death in 1926, his son Michel inherited the house and garden of Giverny. He did not live there and it was Monet's step-daughter Blanche who took care of the property. Unfortunately after the Second World War the house and garden were neglected. Almost ten years were necessary to restore the garden and the house to their former magnificence. Not much was left. The greenhouse panes and the windows in the house were reduced to shards after the bombings. Floors and ceiling beams had rotted away, a staircase had collapsed. Three trees were even growing in the big studio. The pond had to be dug again. In the Clos Normand, soil was removed to find the original ground level. Then the same flower species as those discovered by Monet in his time were planted. Thanks to generous donors, mostly from the USA, the house was given a face lift. The ancient furniture and the Japanese prints were restored. The property has been open to the public since September 1980.




It is said that Monet found this property one day while riding on a train. While passing the property, it caught his attention and he decided to rent the property first, since he couldn't afford to purchase it at the time. Monet was married twice. His first wife died from cancer, and he had two children with her. He married his second wife Alice (also a widow, by the way her first husband was Monet's closest friend), who had four children from a previous marriage. In this house lived Monet, Alice, and their six children! The pink color of the outside walls and the green of the shutters was chosen by Monet. In those times, shutters were traditionally painted grey. For pictures of the interior of the house, go to: http://giverny.org/monet/home/. I have to admit that the interior of the house was NOTHING like I would have imagined it to be. Monet chose bold colors like yellow and blue in some of his rooms, and his impressionist style clearly visible outside the house was not carried over inside the house.



We took about 200 pictures within Monet's gardens, and I wish I could share them all with you. We loved the unique beauty of this incredible flower.

Purple was everywhere!

Monet's love of sunflowers was very evident in his gardens. To me sunflowers are happy flowers, they respond to the sun shine, and we were very lucky that day to have some sun before it rained for the rest of the day. I hope I was able to transport you to Giverny for just a short while and that I have impressed upon you the glory of Monet's gardens!

August 26, 2012

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunday, August, 26, 2012


Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2002, at Mattie's baptism. I remember this day as if it were yesterday. Father James Greenfield baptized Mattie. I met Father Jim at the George Washington University, when I was a graduate student. In fact, in my first semester at the University, I needed to find a client  to work with, in order to counsel him/her and then write a case report. It was Jim who gave me my first clinical client and also supervised my work. Jim is an incredible priest, he gave Peter and I pre-cana before we married, he baptized Mattie at a private ceremony, and also presided over Mattie's funeral.


Quote of the day: You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body. ~ C.S. Lewis



Peter and I are not sure whether we are coming or going today. We are both exhausted, yet woke up early because we are still on England time. We accomplished a great deal of chores today. Patches is thrilled to be home and is sticking close to her buddy Peter! Peter and I worked in our garden for a while and I am happy to report that our plants did very well for two weeks because our friend Maria gave our garden tender loving care. I find it very upsetting to come home to dead plants, and this has happened many times in the past. This is the first time we asked Maria to watch over our garden and I can say that our plants appreciated her care, and they are thriving!


The glorious sunflowers you see in this picture were at Claude Monet's garden in Giverny. Hopefully this week, I will be able to post more pictures, but imagine sunflowers everywhere. It was a garden that only someone with great love of color, light, and nature could have planted.





We were sifting through two weeks worth of mail, and in one envelope I received this beautiful painted purple flag. This is NOT just any flag, this was Mattie's flag! He painted it when he was in Kathy's preschool class, and it has his name and preschool symbol (Mattie Magnet) on the back of the flag. Kathy is preparing her classroom for school, and in the process came across this flag and sent it to me with a beautiful note. It was a very thoughtful and kind gesture on Kathy's part, and I consider this a very special gift. The gift is priceless because it is a reminder of Mattie, of Mattie's existence, and also of a memory Kathy had with Mattie. So many families we know are getting ready for the school year to begin and yet we of course are not. Not by choice but because of cancer. For so many, September symbolizes the beginning of a new school year, while for me, September symbolizes the month Mattie died. I shall never forget Mattie's preschool teachers. They are extraordinary ladies, teachers, and people, and Kathy's gift is just one of many examples why Mattie's teachers are also my friends.