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 15, 2012

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Saturday, September 15, 2012


Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2009, four months before Mattie died. I remember this picture very well, because Peter snapped it of us during one of our weekend stays at the Hospital. The night before this photo was taken, I left Peter and Mattie at the hospital, and I went home to get sleep. It was atypical for Peter or I to do this, since for most of the 15 month battle we remained together. But toward the end of Mattie's treatment, there were some nights I did spend at home just to regroup. Living in a hospital 24/7 was no easy task. Mattie's room was small, I slept in a chair at night, and we shared showers with other families. So privacy was non-existent and the lack of control over one's environment was beyond unsettling. But you would be amazed with what the human mind and spirit can get accustomed to!


Quote of the day: Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things. ~ Robert Brault


Peter and I took a three mile walk together around Washington, DC. Along our journey we stopped and sat. While sitting, we noticed several taxis stopping in front of a building. Each taxi was filled to capacity with young adult women, all of whom had a lot of energy and were wearing very revealing outfits. By the time it was all said and done, around 100 women must have been standing on the sidewalk. We weren't the only people to stop and watch this scene unfold. Of course where the young women are, the young men are not far behind. It turns out one of the sororities at the George Washington University was having an event. It looked like a country western event actually, since the women were wearing very short shorts, cowboy boots, and hats. It was hard to believe that a bunch of undergraduates could cause so much commotion on a side walk, but to me this was better than watching reality TV! I am not sure what I found more disturbing, the outfits or the behavior. Needless to say, at one point I turned to Peter and said... "do you see why I can't return to the classroom?" Naturally undergraduates were always at a different developmental place than I was, even back in 2008. The only difference now is I have seen and experienced childhood cancer. I have witnessed the day to day traumas of children and teens battling for their lives, and observed their families feeling powerless to help. It is very hard to live with these visions, and therefore I find at times it is impossible to work with young people who are lucky enough to be healthy. I am quite aware of the typically developing behaviors of late teens and young adults, and realize what I saw today is a right of passage and part of the norm for many. Yet this is no longer my norm, and my patience, understanding, and tolerance for such behavior is much lower than it used to be.

Mattie's cancer battle and death has left me angry and mad at times. This may not be an emotion many around me see, since I try to keep it in check. However, during vulnerable times I can and do lash out at those closest to me. Rest assured when emotionally hurt, I can give out as good as I feel. It is my hope along my grief journey I will once again appreciate the beauty of normal activities, but for now it remains a struggle. In my struggle, I also find that I separate myself from others because I perceive our worlds as being so different. I suppose the key to is learn to live with these differences without isolating myself because of these differences. I recognize this in theory, but it is much harder to accept and follow through emotionally.  
 

September 14, 2012

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday, September 14, 2012


Tonight's picture was taken in March of 2009. At that point in Mattie's treatment, chemotherapy was almost done, we knew Mattie needed a sternotomy to remove the tumors in his lungs, yet we all remained hopeful, never guessing that only six weeks off of chemotherapy, Mattie's cancer was going to spread everywhere. Sometimes NOT knowing is a gift. That particular day in the child life playroom, you can see that Mattie created a VERY interesting hat. Mattie had his playful and silly moments, which was medicine to all of us, because it was through his activity that he gave us hope.


Quote of the day: Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. ~ Dr. Seuss


I am absolutely brain dead and exhausted from a six hour long licensure board meeting today. Between creating legislation, regulating professionals, approving new licensure applicants and sanctioning others, I feel like I have been hit by a truck. So tonight's posting will be short to non-existent. Nonetheless, I came across Dr. Seuss' quote tonight and it made me pause.

I paused because there is a great deal of truth in Seuss' statement. There are NO imaginative characters or rhyme being used here, which was SO typical of Seuss, but instead a whimsical message about being true to one's self. I think understanding "who you are" maybe a constantly evolving process. Certainly at the core we have some solid values and beliefs that remain consistent over time, but even this core can't help but be challenged under certain life circumstances. Mattie's cancer in so many ways crumbled our core, and each day that goes on, we are forced to rebuilt, re-evaluate, and come to terms with just who we are. Who I am now, is quite different from the person I was in 2008. Yet, I have found that those who matter most to me, will listen to what I say, how I am feeling, and though they might not agree with my feelings, they on some level understand. Or try to understand. On the journey of knowing who I am post-cancer, I find that being open and honest with my feelings with others is important to me. It helps me reconcile my changes and in the process try to determine what the future holds for me.
 

September 13, 2012

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2009, a month before Mattie died. In so many ways Mattie's body was ravaged by cancer. In the end, Mattie was literally skin and bones. He couldn't eat or drink ANYTHING. How he remained alive amazes me, but IV fluids definitely helped. Despite the pain and the intensity of his illness, he continued to play. As you can see in this picture, Mattie was doing one of his favorite things in the Hospital, building with Legos. In addition, a friend gave Mattie this pink light up egg, which he thought was just fantastic and different. Though this picture isn't the happiest of photos it does in my opinion capture Mattie's energy and will to live. He fought cancer at every turn, and in the midst of his battle, he wanted to play, build, and create.


Quote of the day: Life is a shipwreck but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats. ~ Voltaire


I came across Voltaire's quote today and I simply love it. There are many times in life where we may feel stuck, like we have reached a crossroads, or feel absolutely ruined. Or as Voltaire puts it..... shipwrecked. Yet lifeboats come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Some lifeboats may be actual things, and some maybe connections we find within others. Needless to say, we constantly need to search for our lifeboats in life, sometimes they are subtle, but they are there if we allow them in.

One of my so called lifeboats this week has been going to zumba. I find moving around to music very therapeutic, and sometimes I wonder if I am going for the exercise, or for the sheer joy of moving around. Not that it matters, but it is a good outlet for me, and it is important I know that. I know so many people have spoken to me about the benefits of yoga and other meditative techniques, but for me music and movement are key. The more movement, the better I like it!

I had the wonderful opportunity to eat lunch outside with my friend Mary today. Not to be confused with the other Mary in my life, who lives in an assisted living facility. My friend Mary and I met at Mattie's preschool. Today was such a glorious weather day, that sitting outside in this perfect weather was in essence another lifeboat. While having lunch with Mary, chatting about all sorts of things, I literally was hit right on the head with something. It went from my head and then onto the table. It was a baby acorn. My interpretation of the acorn was it was a direct message from Mattie, as if he was saying...... "hello, I am thinking of you!" Needless to say, I was touched emotionally about this acorn, and put it right into my purse.

Later in the day, I worked on Foundation items and one of the things I am planning is a check signing ceremony at Georgetown University Hospital at the end of the month. A significant portion of funds ($25,000) we generated from the May Foundation Walk, are going to Georgetown, and I worked with Linda and Tim today to figure out a date and time for this event. Giving Georgetown these funds in September seems very meaningful to me, given that this is the month Mattie died, and September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness month. In many ways the connections we made at Georgetown are another lifeboat for me and through these connections Mattie's memory remains alive. So many people have been touched by Mattie, his story, and his passion for life. I am honored that Mattie has a Georgetown Child Life Fund named after him, because I know his love for Linda (his Child Life Specialist) was real, genuine, and truly beautiful. Allowing others access to Linda and her team (through the Mattie Miracle Fund), is deeply meaningful to Peter and I, and captures the spirit of Mattie and our Foundation's mission.

September 12, 2012

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2009 (the month before Mattie died!). Mattie requested that Peter set up his HUGE camping tent in our living room. The tent was so large it seemed to take over our living and dining rooms! However, this was something Mattie wanted and at night, while home from the hospital, this is where Mattie wanted to sleep. Typically because Peter had to work, I usually took on night duty so Peter could get some sort of rest to partially function the next day. Clearly one morning, Peter snapped a picture of Mattie and I together. Though I had my own mattress within the tent, I usually landed up in Mattie's bed. Cancer left Mattie quite traumatized. He had a great deal of anxiety, depression, and post traumatic stress. To me, there was nothing more overwhelming and disheartening than seeing Mattie battle a host of mental health issues. In addition to the cancer, it made us feel helpless and powerless. I went from a person totally opposed to psychotropic medication for children, to one who learned to embrace it out of necessity! Mattie needed a great deal of reassurance at night. Beside the psychological ramifications of his disease, Mattie was also hooked up to all sorts of IVs while at home. So from my perspective, it wasn't safe to leave him unattended at night, even if he was okay with it (which he wasn't). As I look at tonight's picture, I can safely say that I miss these tender moments.


Quote of the day: We see things not as they are, but as we are. ~ H. M. Tomlinson


Today I was talking to a woman who has two children. In our conversation she mentioned some of the lovely things her teenage son was doing at school and she even shared with me some of his lovely messages he sends her. For example, it is not unusual for this young fellow to send spontaneous text messages to his mom that say, "I love you Mom!" Naturally having been a mom, I know how special such sentiments are, especially when they are not prompted. Even in my zumba class this week, a new mom returned to class. She just had a baby this summer and was talking about some of the feeding issues she was contending with. I happened to chime in, only because I remember colic all too well. It is impossible for me not to respond to these comments that pertain to motherhood, but of course once you start participating, people want to know about my child. It is hard to answer such an innocent question, and my goal is not to make someone feel bad or guilty for asking. I am still trying to find my way around this honestly and some days I respond better than others. But today's commentary had me reflect on how lucky this woman was to have a healthy child and one who loves her. Naturally she has worked hard to contribute to his development, and I am glad she has this beautiful bond. Nonetheless, I am human, and can't help but reflect what she is expressing back upon myself. It makes me feel sad and hollow, that I won't know what it feels like to have a 15 year old, or receive text messages from Mattie. This issue plagues me..... I am a mom, and I am NOT a mom all at the same time. I want others to be happy and enjoy their children, and yet feel anger or bitterness at times that they can and I can't. Not a wonderful thing to admit to, but indeed a mixed emotion I battle with daily.

When I was living in Boston, years ago, I developed three wonderful friendships. It was at Boston College that I met Jen, Colleen, and Angie. It is hard to believe I have known these women for 20 years. What you should know is they are ALL blog readers. We live geographically apart, but our academic experiences bonded us together through many of life's ups and downs. This week, I have been exchanging emails with Jen. Jen was one of the first people I met at Boston College. Literally we sat next to each other at a program orientation meeting and we became instantaneous friends from that point on. Our moms became friends, and her youngest daughter, Caroline (who is around Mattie's age) gravitated to Mattie. I recall their first encounter with each other, though they lived in different states, they seemed to have an immediate understanding for each other.

Jen is the mom of four beautiful children. Two of whom are no longer living at home. Jen commented on the feelings associated with having an emptier nest. As she was talking about this huge adjustment and how this impacts her identity, I realized that what she is feeling is similar to me, a parent who has lost a child. Naturally we both know there are major differences here.... being that Mattie is not coming back and I won't be a part of his future development, and also unlike the independence we expect children to develop as they age which is natural, the separation I have from Mattie was not by choice and is not natural. With that said, putting aside these differences, it was very easy for me to imagine how Jen is feeling now, and also she at the same time can imagine how I am feeling. This developmental journey has caused us to see once again our similarities.

One of the many challenging aspects of grieving for an only child is feeling DIFFERENT from others. So when a friend shares commonalities, I really appreciate it because it helps me feel connected and part of the world around me. It is very easy to become disconnected, in fact, some days it is easier to do just that than become invested in living. It is a constant fight and struggle to live with grief, in a world that seems so different to me now than it did before cancer, and to try to feel all sorts of emotions (even happier ones!) without feeling absolute guilt and betrayal of Mattie.

September 11, 2012

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tuesday, September 11, 2012 -- Mattie died 157 weeks ago today.

 
Tonight's picture was taken on August 6, 2009. The day we found out that Mattie's cancer was terminal. It was a long day for us, and this picture captures a lot in many ways. Peter and I had just come back from a meeting with Mattie's oncologist. While we were in the meeting, Mattie was playing in the clinic, and Kathleen (pictured in pink with flowers), one of his outstanding HEM/ONC nurses from the inpatient unit, came down to also provide company and support. I honestly did not know if I was coming or going that day, and yet Mattie was first and foremost a child and wanted to show us what he just created at the art table in clinic. You can see Mattie was assessing us and our reactions. I held it together, as I always did in front of Mattie, but inside I felt as if I was dying. On the 11th anniversary of September 11th, I can't help but pause and feel for the thousands of families torn apart by this National disaster. Mattie did not die in a terrorist attack, but his death gives me great insight into how a loss of such magnitude can change an entire person's life and that of his/her family.


Quote of the day: 9/11 was a reminder that the bonds of family can be severed in an instant. They are essential, crucial, valuable, and fragile.  ~ Peter Jennings


Eleven years have passed, but the tragedy of 9/11 remains fresh in my mind. I began watching tributes and remembrance specials on TV this past weekend, and I continue to be in amazement over the emotions that such a nightmare evokes. It is quite possible to feel anger, hatred, disgust, hopelessness, fear, sadness, and even hope all at one time. The level of devastation is so profound and how survivors live with the memories of what they saw and experienced is beyond me. I imagine for them each day is a struggle, with many lasting physical and psychological side effects. For the survivors, and every family that lost someone dear on September 11th, my heart goes out to them.

Please know that I have great respect for all the first responders.....firefighters, police officers, medical personnel, and good Samaritans who worked under horrific conditions to save lives 11 years ago. When I got up this morning, in my email inbox, I received a message from the National Parks Service regarding the memorial site in Shanksville, PA. The location where United Flight 93 went down. I attached the video (https://myaccount.nationalparks.org/sslpage.aspx?pid=438&erid=15334497&trid=e375694b-c8d4-42d2-9d81-b99c1c4742df) that came with the email in case you wanted to see it. Flight 93 had 37 passengers and 7 crew members on it that day. I can only imagine the horror of being on that hijacked plane, and then while calling loved ones from the plane, passengers and crew learned that a massive suicide mission was well underway and deduced that the plane they were on was next. I believe that what makes America so special is its spirit, drive, and determination. The passengers and crew abroad flight 93 had two choices, they could remain calm and still and abide by what the terrorists told them to do, or they could fight back and try to divert the plane from hitting another major building and consuming more lives. This isn't an easy decision, and certainly if these people decided to do nothing, it would have been more than understandable given the harrowing and life threatening circumstances. But there is a very powerful message that we received from these Shanksville heroes, and that message is we on the ground were worth saving. They gave up their own lives to protect us. This incredibly selfless act of courage should never be forgotten, they weren't fighting for their family and friends that day, though I am sure that was in the back of their minds, but I imagine they made a decision that if they were going to die, they were going to die with dignity, respect, and honor.

When I went onto the National Parks website and clicked on this link (http://www.nps.gov/flni/photosmultimedia/virtualtour.htm) to the pictures of the passengers and crew, it made this tragedy incredibly real for me and helped me understand exactly who were these brave men and women aboard Flight 93.

We can all remember (assuming we were born at that point), where we were on September 11, 2001. I was home (keep in mind I live in Washington, DC, a stones throw from many of the monuments) and preparing for my classes that I was teaching later in the day. By that point I was two months pregnant with Mattie and when I watched this devastation on TV, I felt paralyzed. Peter was working in Virginia at the time, and he literally got in the car and drove INTO DC! Keep in mind that there was a mass exodus OUT of DC, yet Peter was trying to get back into the city and his description of the chaos he was seeing with people coming out of the city and the isolation of coming into the city is still overwhelming to me even today.

I was saddened to see when looking at The Washington Post today (in print, not the on line version), there wasn't a cover story on 9/11. In fact, I had to really dig through the paper to see any coverage of it at all. Why is that? I honestly do not know how I would react to this if I lost someone on 9/11, but what I have come to understand is that grief and loss is about REMEMBERING and not discussing it and making this visible in a newspaper caught my immediate attention in a negative way.

September 10, 2012

Monday, September 10, 2012

 
Monday, September 10, 2012


Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2008. By this point in Mattie's treatment he had completed all of his limb salvaging surgeries. Naturally the date confirms to me that this was correct, but even if the picture wasn't dated I would know by what Mattie was wearing. After Mattie's second limb salvaging operation, I bought him adaptive clothing. Literally his pants had Velcro seams, so there were no buttons or zippers, and he did not need to step into his pants (which was virtually impossible to do given the host of disabilities he was contending with). Pictured with Mattie is Tricia. Tricia, as my faithful readers know, is an incredible HEM/ONC nurse and one of Johnson and Johnson's Finalists for Outstanding Nurse of the Year. Yes Tricia was Mattie's nurse, but she also looked out for Peter and I in the Hospital, and quickly became a member of our family. Tricia got and understood Mattie and she knew how important his play and building was. If he was in the midst of doing something, she worked around him. This picture captures what I am trying to describe. Notice Tricia's heavy blue gloves.... they are gloves one must wear when administering chemotherapy. At least the highly toxic chemotherapy Mattie was given. Certainly it would have been easier if Mattie was sitting on the bed, but instead, Tricia came down to Mattie's level, and did not skip a beat. The love went both ways, and Tricia and I both distinctly remember one day in the PICU, as Mattie was coming back from the playroom, he called out Tricia's name in the hallway. When Tricia came over to him, Mattie announced... "I Love You!" Frankly neither one of us was expecting this sentiment, but I could tell, it deeply touched Tricia's heart. As we reflect on the passing of Mattie, it would be impossible not to reflect and remember the beauty of Mattie's Georgetown family, of which Tricia is top on our list.  


Quote of the day: Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere. ~ Albert Einstein

As is typical, the days that follow a major milestone are always problematic for us. Milestone dates in a way seem to re-open wounds, wounds which have never fully healed to begin with. Sometimes when feeling so down and depressed, it becomes very easy to just want to stay in bed or shut off the world. A world which I already perceive as cruel, unfair, and at times unbearable. With the anniversary of September 11th being tomorrow, if you doubt my sentiments, all you have to do is stop and reflect on one of our Nation's greatest tragedies. This tragedy magnifies on a grand scale exactly what I am saying about life.

Sometimes when feeling this way, I have to let go of logic and reasoning. Not unlike what Einstein expressed, and instead allow my imagination to take over. To become re-grounded in the world and to see aspects of its beauty (and thereby use my imagination), I go to Roosevelt Island. Today, Peter and I walked the Island and below I will share photos of our time there. The ironic part about today's walk is that at various points we just stopped walking and stood still for minutes on end. When we stopped moving, it was as if we became one with the nature around us. I observed SO many birds, in fact at one point I felt as if I was in a scene from Hitchcock's movie The Birds. We had birds watching and observing US from every angle, rather than the other way around. It was a real lesson today..... when we stopped moving, that is when we observed incredible sights! For example, while I paused on the boardwalk, a deer literally jumped out in front of me to cross over the walkway. I was down right stunned! If we went to the Island to simply walk to exercise, we would have missed all this incredible beauty that surrounded us today.

Last night, I emailed my mom and Karen about the fact that Peter received few to no emails or correspondence about Mattie's death and anniversary. Most people do write to both of us, but the emails come directly to me. I tried to put myself in Peter's shoes, and when doing this I too would be hurt by this. My mom and Karen had their own take on this as well. Later in the evening my dad wrote Peter the following email................... 

"I'm NO writer! If it's not in bullet format my writing style is severely handicapped.. I try to leave all my dull and tiresome prose to as brief a communication as I can. Therefore September 8th comes and goes each year--and I remain silent. I do not find it easy to express my sorrow for the anguish you must endure on this special Anniversary each Year. Be assured my caring and thoughts are with you. I cannot express my grief and caring so I take the easy way out. I remain silent since there is no way I can commiserate my sorrow, sympathy and understanding of the torment you must go through each September 8th and probably each day of the Year."
I asked my dad whether I could post his comment here tonight, because I think it is of value to highlight. Mainly because it provides insights into the topic of SILENCE. The old saying that silence is golden..... well FORGET IT! Silence is very easy to misconstrue for a griever. It is interpreted in my mind as Mattie has been forgotten by you, that his loss and the impact of his loss isn't worth talking about, and worse it means that you aren't on this journey with me. My comments on silence do not pertain to my dad, since I know where he stands regarding Mattie and he conveys this to us often. However, even though he expresses his feelings to us on a regular basis, he decided to stay silent on Mattie's anniversary because of the profound nature of the loss. He did not know what to say! Which is what I suspect perpetuates silence for many who know us..... silence occurs because one is feeling awkward, one has the fear of making things worse for us, and saying the wrong thing. All these fears are well founded and I know all too well that it is easy to say the wrong thing to a griever, I get that, but I think it is far worse to stay silent. I also think it is harder for people to reach out to men who are grieving, and Peter isn't the only male to be facing these issues. Our society has stereotyped men, that men do not need to express feelings, they need to be tough and strong, and some even think that the death of child affects a mom more than a dad. But again, all of these things are myths. In fact, I would go on to say that I have many more socially acceptable outlets to vent my grief than Peter does, and that is simply because of my gender and what society deems NORMAL.
Also today, we received a beautiful email from Tricia. Tricia also expressed that it was difficult to write to us and wasn't even sure what to say over this profound loss. Yet, despite how my dad and Tricia felt, they both wrote, and both messages were so appreciated and caused us to pause and reflect. It takes great courage to express one's feelings, and to even allow one's self to be vulnerable to share these thoughts and feelings with us. Nonetheless, it is in this vulnerability that true and meaningful bonds occur between people.
Tricia wrote, "As we have recently come upon the 3rd anniversary of Mattie's passing, I still find it extremely difficult to believe, accept or at times, even address. I often have to remind myself that it really did happen and between the loss of the most special little boy I've ever had the privilege of knowing and the loss of my two brothers most recently, I find myself in a whirlwind of questions...why do these losses have to happen, why to us, it could've been anyone else but why our precious Mattie, or my 'Big" and "Little" brothers or my special sister back then? I remember when my faith was so strong, but these losses challenge our faith and I find myself wondering about the many unanswered questions that I can't seem to let go of. I still love to care for the children and it's not unusual for me, in my everyday work and life, to see and feel Mattie's presence. Your mother sums it up perfectly...for he is the wind that blows, the sun that shines and the moon that glows and he is all the goodness that surrounds us..everyday... and though this is a wonderful thing...it will never be consolation enough for having lost any of them. I would never say I could ever understand how you must feel, but I know you understand how much I loved Mattie, so as we reach another year gone by without him, I want you both to know I am thinking about you and sending all my love and support to you always."



Along our walk on Roosevelt Island, Peter captured this sight. I entitle it, "The Beauty of Roosevelt Island."

Everything along the boardwalk today was green and beautiful. It was so special to be there when it wasn't crowded with people.

When we stopped for a few minutes and looked up, the first thing we noticed was a Red Bellied Woodpecker. A rather funny name, since its belly is NOT red.

We spent a great deal of time looking at this huge bird in the tree. We were perplexed by this bird because at first glance it looked like a Robin. Yet it did not sound like a robin, so I don't know. But he was glorious to observe. While we were watching him, there had to be at least 50 birds surrounding us, watching us, as we were watching the Robin.

A beautiful Grackle!

As we were walking along the board walk, I commented that the sun was strong and lovely, perfect weather for a lizard. Low and behold, a Blue Tailed Skink appeared. Peter wanted to know if I could predict the lottery with such accuracy.

As we stared at these ducks today, Peter was sure these weren't mallards. He is correct, I looked them up and they are American Black Ducks. A first for me! Their feathers were GLOWING in the sun!

As we were leaving the Island, this mud turtle came up to say hi. He was a beauty, and I loved his red coloring. Mattie was a turtle fan, and he would have absolutely loved each and every sight we came across on the Island today.

 

September 9, 2012

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2008 at Mattie's end of year kindergarten party. I fortunately attended this party and I was able to see Mattie having a great time with his friends. This threesome was very special to me: Charlotte, Mattie, and Campbell. As Charlotte told me, this threesome was going to go to college together and even be roommates.


Quote of the day: He that conceals his grief finds no remedy for it. ~ Turkish Proverb


The day after Mattie's third anniversary of course brings out all sorts of emotions. Our emotions aren't as volatile or explosive as perhaps they once were, now they tend to be more inward. In many ways these inward emotions are hard to live with, because they wear you down and are quite depressing. So I would say for the most part our day was clouded with sadness and depression.

Peter and I reflected on how we acknowledged Mattie's anniversary for the past three years. The first year, we had a tree gathering ceremony at Mattie's school in which Mattie's friends and our friends were in attendance. We all placed origami cranes on Mattie's tree and then I treated those in attendance to the kind of cupcakes Mattie loved, all of which had brightly colored frosting. That was a nice gathering, but a hard one for multiple reasons. One reason I won't do this again is because it was very hard for me to see the children and their parents come and go to this event. For some in attendance, this event was another activity on their calendar, and for us, it was much more than that. It was very evident to me that given schedules, right after the tree gathering, families were running off to the next activity. Naturally this is part of life, and I get that, but I don't have to get it on Mattie's anniversary of his death. It took me a long time to come to peace with that because I felt like I was the one being difficult. Upon reflection, I realize I am not being difficult or not understanding and caring of others, on the contrary, I spent a great deal of time doing just that while Mattie was ill, and now on difficult days for us, I have to think of what is in our best interest. Because at the end of the day if a public forum is only going to further upset and depress me, I don't need to add gasoline to an already well lit fire!

For Mattie's second anniversary, we went out to lunch with friends. This was a less public forum, which was better, but as time moves on, Peter and I feel as if the only ones who truly need to reflect on this day is us. We do not want to pressure others to feel obligated to go through this journey with us, which is why we do not schedule anything on September 8th. Honestly though I do not know what the answer is because spending the day alone does compound the isolation, and we reflected upon this today. Actually a lot of hurt has resulted from Mattie's death, Mattie's battle, and our hopes for how others in our lives would continue to be there for us. Loss is quite pervasive in our lives. Cancer has changed us and our relationships with others, and therefore the ramifications of cancer may appear to be over for us, but they truly aren't, the ramifications are now more subtle. Cancer influences how I see everything, how I experience everyone, and my expectations for how things should be.

 
Yesterday my friend Tina sent me this picture on my Blackberry. When I first saw the picture, I have to admit I was disoriented. I wasn't sure where this beautiful monarch was sitting. It turns out that this butterfly flew right into Tina's lap and sat there for 20 minutes. It is so unusual for a butterfly to do this, and I took this as a sign!
 
Since this butterfly decided to visit with Tina for a while, Tina had the opportunity to talk with others around her about the significance of this creature. As I told Tina yesterday, to me this was a sign from Mattie and she was our messenger. I did not see one butterfly yesterday, yet I do not believe in coincidence, therefore, from my perspective this butterfly was meant to land on my friend. I am so happy she shared it with me and captured it through a photo.