MATTIE MIRACLE VIRTUAL WALK WAS AN $110,000 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

October 27, 2012

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Tonight's picture was taken in October of 2007. We took Mattie to a Fall Festival, and this wooden pumpkin person caught Mattie's attention. It is interesting to me how Mattie gravitated to bright colors like orange and red. Colors which naturally were selected to symbolize his Foundation.











Quote of the day: I feel the capacity to care is the thing which gives life its deepest significance. ~ Pablo Casals


Peter has been struggling with a sinus infection all week, and today, I feel like I am losing the battle. So we are both wiped out, with congested heads, and with not a lot of energy to do much. In fact, I woke up this morning, made breakfast, and then went right back into bed. However, by lunch time, thanks to Sudafed, I was able to get up and out. To somewhat function. We decided to take a walk on Roosevelt Island, since we are bracing for a ton of rain and wind for the next couple of days.



When we got to Roosevelt Island we were greeted by a park ranger who informed us that today was Roosevelt's birthday. Therefore the Island was decorated and celebrating the occasion. As you can see flags lined the bridge onto the Island. The flags were wonderful, we got to see the US Flag with 33 stars on it and one with 25 stars on it, obviously before our flag reflected all of our 50 states. There were also military flags, a commander and chief flag, and a US parks flag. Roosevelt was a renowned ornithologist, an expert on and hunter of big-game animals, but also a pioneering American conservationist. He was a country squire, horseman, socialite and patron of the arts. His love of birds and nature are beautifully captured on this little piece of city paradise. A piece of paradise Mattie always loved visiting!
 
 

This is a piece of the Island we do not always photograph and post on the blog. However, there is a wonderful statue of Teddy, along with some of his powerful quotes on this portion of the Island. As you can see in the picture, there were tents set up. Many of the tents featured hands on experiences for the young and old alike. Animals of all kinds were featured and we could pet and even hold them. There was also a birthday cake offered to visitors! Teddy Roosevelt was our 26th President and was 42 years old when sworn in as President of the United States in 1901, making him the youngest president ever. Roosevelt was a sickly child who suffered from asthma and stayed at home studying natural history. This fact is crucial to understand about Roosevelt, because being sickly enabled him to spend a great deal of time developing his passion and love for nature and animals. Which is why the number one way to celebrate Roosevelt's birthday is to pass along his love for animals and nature to his visitors. The next two pictures capture the festivities and educational hands on activities occurring by the tents.
 
 

Under one of the tents we were introduced to this creature, called a Sugar Glider. A first for me! The sugar glider is a small, omnivorous, arboreal gliding possum belonging to the marsupial infraclass. Sugar gliders are named for their preference for sugary nectarous foods and ability to glide through the air, much like a flying squirrel. Sugar gliders can be found throughout the northern and eastern parts of mainland Australia, and in Tasmania, Papua New Guinea and several associated isles, and certain isles of Indonesia.
 

The next tent featured a ferret. I entitle this picture.... Peter's new buddy! Patches would be SO jealous if she saw this! The ferret is a domesticated mammal. Ferrets are predators with males being substantially larger than females. They typically have brown, black, white, or mixed fur. They have an average length of 20 inches including a 5 inch tail, weigh about 1.5–4 pounds, and have a natural lifespan of 7 to 10 years. Ferrets are crepuscular, which means they spend 14–18 hours a day asleep and are most active around the hours of dawn and dusk. Unlike their polecat ancestors, which are solitary animals, most ferrets will live happily in social groups. Like many other carnivores, ferrets have scent glands, the secretions from which are used in scent marking. As with skunks, ferrets can release their secretions when startled or scared, but the smell is much less potent and dissipates rapidly. The fellow Peter was holding had his scent glands removed!
 

There was also a bunny, mice, and other furry creatures for kids and adults to hold and learn about. After the festivities, we walked around the Island. I snapped this picture on the boardwalk. The trees have definitely changed and have lost most of their leaves.

The beauty of Roosevelt Island during the Fall!
 

Peter heard this bird, before I spotted him on a tree. To me Cardinals symbolize the winter season approaching, which of course isn't true. They are around all year long, but perhaps I can see them better on the trees during the winter season, which is why I associate them with winter. To me they are a bright spot to see during the cold and bleak months ahead.

I entitle this picture.... "Who's watching who?!" Peter made a noise to capture the Cardinal's attention, and as you can see, this bird was staring at us, as we were staring at him.

Toward the end of our walk, we always pass this huge tree. Peter has a favorite pine he loves on the Island and he typically photographs this tree's changes with the seasons. For some reason this tree always captures my attention. Maybe because near it we spotted wild turkeys with Mattie, or near it we saw woodpeckers, or perhaps this tree's size and shape just commands my attention.
 
After our Roosevelt Island excursion, we went out to lunch together. The goal of lunch was to brainstorm the content for an hour long palliative care presentation we are giving at an upcoming conference on November 16, at the Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Peter and I have typically served on palliative care panels, but for this particular conference we have been selected to be the only parent speakers. Peter did not know what hit him today at lunch, mainly because ideas and stories about Mattie and our experiences were flowing right out of my mouth. Mattie and the Foundation are my job, and just like anyone who works full time, one's job tasks and responsibilities become second nature to them. Citing examples about Mattie's health care, lessons to be learned, and advocating for the treatment of both the psychological and physical concerns of a pediatric patient are all topics fresh in my head, and very real in my heart and mind. As I was recalling some of our stories and experiences with Peter, he landed up crying. Which I totally understand, because reliving our story and our experiences are painful. It takes courage, strength, and love to get up on a stage and do this. Because at the end of the conference people go home and on their merry way, whereas for us, we have opened up old wounds and are left to contend with the consequences. It is of course our hope that in sharing our story and insights that this effects how health care providers interact and treat future patients. This is our number one motivator, along with keeping Mattie's memory alive. Something must be learned from Mattie's battle and death, so we push ourselves to do what I would deem emotionally challenging.

October 26, 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012


Tonight's picture was taken in October of 2006. As you can see, Mattie was posing next to the Halloween cards he received as well as the little pumpkin he carved in preschool. Mattie loved receiving mail and simply enjoyed the fun and spirit of Halloween.



Quote of the day: No love, no friendship, can cross the path of our destiny without leaving some mark on it forever. ~ Francois Mocuriac



Today I attended a luncheon I planned for Bonnie, our executive director of the DC counseling licensure board. As I have mentioned before on the blog, Bonnie is retiring in a week. Our board is very fond of her and after a decade working together, there was no way I could see her leaving without acknowledging her in some way. Bonnie is the person sitting in this picture and then standing behind her are the members of the board which is comprised on licensed professional counselors (missing from the picture is the board staff). From left to right are Laurie, Vicki, Art, Terri, and Mirna. As a token of thanks to Bonnie, our board gave her the beautiful necklace and ear rings she is wearing. The wonderful and meaningful part about this gift is that the jewelry was designed and created by Laurie. So these pieces are unique and will hopefully always remind Bonnie of our board and how much we appreciate her professionalism and years of dedication to us and to safeguarding the public.
 
Later in the day, I went to visit my friend Mary, who lives in an assisted living facility. Mary was unable to talk tonight and I could tell she wasn't in the best of moods. Yet somehow sharing this mood with someone can automatically brighten one's day. I always allow and respect Mary to be in whatever mood she is in, I don't try to change it. However, I find as I talk with her and read stories to her from a newspaper about her home town in Massachusetts that this miraculous changes how she feels. One wouldn't be able to assess this change easily, since Mary can't verbalize the difference. But I can see the subtle changes in her facial expression and eyes. Despite Mary's incapacitated state, she always makes me feel appreciated. She is convinced I am an angel or her angel (using her words), which of course I am not. But it is nice to know that in her eyes I am making a difference in her world.
 

October 25, 2012

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Tonight's picture was taken in October of 2006. We took Mattie to a Fall festival and he was very eager to climb up this wall to see what was inside. As you can see right behind Mattie was Peter, spotting him as he climbed up the wall. Mattie loved being outside, adventure, exploration, and he loved having Peter home to do things with him on the weekends.








Quote of the day: Don't let your character change color with your environment. Find out who you are and let it stay its true color. ~ Rachel Joy Scott


The quote I posted tonight I heard during the Rachel's Challenge presentation I attended on Tuesday. It is almost hard to believe that Rachel was only 17 years old, and yet even at that tender age, she just understood what mattered in this world. In a way, she was much more mature than her biological age. Her level of empathy, care, and compassion for others around her, are attributes that are not always associated with her age group. So many teens, clearly NOT all, are self focused, are concerned about their own best interest, and well-being. Some of this is just part of the developmental stage of adolescence, and yet I truly believe that our society, in so many ways, rewards this behavior. Which is why hearing a program like Rachel's Challenge is so refreshing. It is so human and real, which is why I suspect it resonates with teens. It is not the typical rhetoric! It was not an educational lesson, citing research, and stating facts about bullying. It was far more hands on and told through a real life story and tragedy. A story which must be told in order to honor those precious lives lost.

Teens are craving the opportunity to talk about feelings, to share their hurts, and to learn that others around them understand. Yet, so many teens these days can't verbalize feelings. They can't verbalize feelings because the adults in their lives can't do this either. I am sure some of you think I am joking, but there is a significant component of our population who can't describe feelings beyond.... happy, sad, mad, and angry! Yet emoting feelings is just, if NOT, as important as stating a thought. Feelings are what makes us human, it is what connects us with others, and feelings are what sustain us during challenging times. It is Thursday and yet I continue to reflect on Tuesday's presentation. The presentation is so meaningful because it captures your heart, it got you to reflect on feelings, and to evaluate what each of us can do at the most simplistic level to make a difference in the lives of others.

Rachel's quote is so meaningful because what she was saying is that one's character is unique and important. It is also special because it belongs to us, and as such it shouldn't change depending on where and who we are with. Being true to one's character takes courage, but at the end of the day, people might not always agree with us, but they will respect us for having convictions and being consistent. Needless to say, I am happy to hear that so many of you enjoyed hearing about the presentation I went to, and I am thrilled some of you decided to take Rachel's Challenge. A challenge I posed to you last night.

I would like to end tonight's posting with a message from my friend and colleague, Nancy. Nancy wrote, "The last few days on the blog featured two different themes for me. One was Mattie's love of Halloween and a change of seasons along with the creative way that you kept him warm and safe for trick or treating. The other is a deeper learning experience through your selection of the quote of the night and the message that it inspires. Even those days when much of the blog is focused on daily activities for yourself and the Foundation, it is filled with a beautiful message. Your way of expressing yourself is much like Craig's. It is compassionate and genuine and it resonates with many different groups of people. Isabel's call to you signifies the power of transference for me. She was able to take the messages that she heard earlier in the day and took Craig's challenge to let you know how special you are to her. I'm glad that Heidi invited you to the lecture. It appeared to give you another avenue for sharing your story and relating to another human being's extreme loss. Rachel had to have been very unusual for a High Schooler for her brother to take up this cause. I think that is what meant so much to the students is that this young man was discussing a time and space that is easily identified with as these high school students either know someone like "Eric and Dylan" or may even feel like them." 

October 24, 2012

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tonight's picture was taken in October of 2006, at a Fall festival. This was how we spent many of our weekends in the month of October, visiting different fall festivals and picking pumpkins. I love this photo Peter took of Mattie and I with the wonderful pumpkin (which was real) behind us. As you probably can see, Mattie looked just like me and we even smiled the same way.


Quote of the day: I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same. People will never know how far a little kindness can go. ~ Rachel Joy Scott


As promised, last night I went to a presentation given by an organization called Rachel's Challenge. I had never heard of this organization before until my friend Heidi told me about it over lunch. Yesterday afternoon while I was working at home, I had a lovely surprise. I received a phone call from Heidi's daughter, Isabel. Since Mattie's death, my direct communication with the younger generation has clearly dropped off. So to me this phone call was very special. Isabel called me to share her perspective of the Rachel's Challenge presentation she saw earlier in the day at her school. I could hear Isabel's enthusiasm and I noticed that she could easily recount many of the messages conveyed in the presentation. Naturally these are Isabel's skills, but it also told me that the speaker had a way of capturing his audience. Therefore, I was intrigued to go to last night's presentation. Keep in mind this speaker addressed Isabel's school during the day and then the parents and other family members of these teenagers in the evening. In all honesty, I love to learn and I especially love learning about different subject matters when it is told through personal stories and experiences.

The presentation ran for 90 minutes and Craig Scott was the speaker. Based on my calculations, Craig has to be 29 years of age. Craig is a survivor of the Columbine High School Shootings. To refresh your memory about this tragedy..... The Columbine High School massacre was a school shooting which occurred on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Two senior students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, embarked on a shooting spree in which a total of 12 students and one teacher were murdered. They also injured 21 other students directly, with three other people being injured while attempting to escape the school. The pair then committed suicide. It is the fourth-deadliest school massacre in United States history, after the 1927 Bath School disaster (in Michigan), 2007 Virginia Tech massacre and the 1966 University of Texas massacre, and remains the deadliest for an American high school.

Craig was only 16 years old when this massacre occurred. On that day, his sister, Rachel Joy who was 17 years old, was the first student to be killed. She was eating lunch outside on the grass with a friend and was shot several times and then dealt the final bullet execution style. Keep in mind that Eric and Dylan (the perpetrators) were seniors, in the same graduating class as Rachel. Craig said that his sister was killed because she believed in God. In fact, it is reported that right before being shot in the head, Eric asked her if she still believed in God. When she responded positively, Eric then told her that she could join him and shot her in the head.

Meanwhile Craig was inside the school's library with several other teenagers. His teacher told the students to hide under desks, but that did not accomplish much. The killers entered the library and went on a shooting spree killing Craig's two friends sitting right next to him under the desk. One of the teen's was named Isaiah, who was one of the few African American students at the School. Before Isaiah was shoot, the killers spewed the most hateful racial slurs from their mouths. Words that still linger within Craig's head. After his friends were shot, he felt as if his ears from bleeding from the sound. But a voice inside him kept him calm and actually that voice helped him lead several students out of that library and to safety. He has no idea why he wasn't killed, other than his mission on this earth was not completed.

Craig told us his story and that of his sister. His sister, Rachel Joy, had everything going for her. She was bright, beautiful, and had a heart of gold. Integrated within his presentation were videos and snapshots of Rachel and many of her actual journal writings for us to view. Rachel kept a journal and in this journal she made it very clear that she was put on this earth to accomplish something important, that she wasn't going to be average. She also felt that she was going to die young (of course from a mental health standpoint, one could say these were all red flags, except this girl was deeply religious, and this spiritual side of her guided her every decision). In so many ways, while reading through Rachel's own words, you feel as if you are reading a prophesy. Being Catholic, I grew up learning about the ridicule, challenges, and the process ordinary people went through who eventually became saints. Rachel believed that she was God's messenger, and carried out his missions on earth. The whole notion sounds far fetched and it would almost be easy to say that those left behind created this fantasy. But these were Rachel's own words, written in her journal. Words that her family and friends were very familiar with, they heard it enough times. Craig recounted many of Rachel's acts of kindness. Whether is was standing up for kids being bullied at school, being a pen pal and friend to a teen who had no family and whose life was heading down the pathway to crime and drugs, or helping a motorist who broke down by the side of the road. At night no less! She was on a daily mission to do good, and she believed that kindness and compassion were contagious. Meaning that she wanted to react a CHAIN REACTION. These are her words.

Ironically Eric and Dylan also wrote a journal and kept a blog. Within their writings they too used the words.... CHAIN REACTION. However, when they used that term, they had something evil in mind. They wanted to be known and admired for killing people and wanted their acts to be copy catted around the Country. Amazing the same two words, but used in two very different contexts.

Craig goes around the Country educating teens and families. In a way this is character education at its finest. Character education is taught in schools now, but just like everything else it is not taught in a thought provoking and meaningful way. In addition, as I have said time and time again, schools are so busy with monitoring grades and student academic achievement (which by the way continues to keep falling, so this one sided educational approach isn't working!), that true life skills have fallen by the way side. Craig and I have had different life experiences and we are different ages. Yet our traumas have enabled us to talk the same language, which surprised me. We can cut through the meaningless of everyday life, and focus upon what truly matters. Yes learning math, science, history, and English are important, but so are kindness, compassion, and forgiveness. Rachel's Challenge makes character education come alive and they use hands on activities to help build trust among school groups. It is through trust that students can open up about their thoughts and feelings and become vulnerable to help one another, and as a result students can see their lives as being connected and part of a larger community.

Since the content Craig presented last night is very heavy, he interspersed humor within his presentation. Whether it was through funny video clips, or when he actually got up and danced. He even got the audience hugging each other, swaying to the music, and singing. Craig gave our group extra kudos because we actually sang..... "lean on me" while swaying to the music. So there were lighter moments throughout the night. But even within the lighter moments, the goal to this human hugging and swaying, was meaningful. Physical connection reminds us that we are human and touch is a number one way to bond people together in a short period of time.

Craig ended the presentation with a video. One of the final snapshots in the video is a picture of Anne Frank next to Rachel Joy. Rachel admired Anne Frank tremendously and side by side, it was uncanny how much they looked alike.

At the end of the evening, Heidi, her friends, and I went up to thank Craig. We all spoke to him independently. While I was on line waiting to talk with him, a group of teenagers were behind me. They were chatting with each other, and said that they found him inspiring and they wanted to stand up and do something positive for their school. So clearly this fellow resonated with ALL ages. When I finally got up to Craig, I told him briefly that I understood a profound loss, since I lost Mattie. I told him that many of the things he spoke about resonated with me. After all, we are talking about the death of children. I got his anger, I understood his feelings of wanting to disengage with the world, and I also know all too well how difficult it is to get up in front of an audience to share your story. To us it is a story, to him, this is his life.

Craig invited everyone in the audience to take a challenge. A challenge that I am sure he ends every presentation with, whether he is talking with teens or adults. The challenge was to tell five people in your life how important they are to you. Words of kindness are amazing gifts to receive, and making someone happy and feel appreciated has a way of reverberating throughout our society. The moral message is that we all have the power within us to cause a chain reaction, but we have to have the courage to start it. So I pass along the challenge to you, it doesn't take much time or energy. Just consider sending five people you know a message of thanks and let them know you appreciate them. It turns out the gift goes both ways, because when we think outside of ourselves and care for others, this has an amazing affect on ourselves as well. There were great points of sadness for me throughout the presentation, but none greater than knowing that one of my five people couldn't be Mattie. He is not around for me to tell him..... "I love you and you are important to me." Those of you lucky enough to have a child alive, at the very least, if you don't identify five people to contact, make sure you at least tell your children how you feel about them. It is a gift that can't be shared and verbalized enough! 

I attached this link in case you wanted to learn more about Rachel's Challenge. It is a short four minute video. http://www.rachelschallenge.org/big-picture/programs/
 
I would like to end tonight's posting with a lovely message I received this morning from my friend, Heidi. I was deeply touched by this message. Heidi wrote, "I love the quote and the last paragraph of last night’s blog. I believe GOD is working through you and you are making such a difference for so many people and helping keep Mattie’s memory alive. Although I never knew your precious little boy, I feel from getting to know you and reading your blog what a special soul he is…."
 

October 23, 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 -- Mattie died 163 weeks ago today.


Tonight's picture was taken in October of 2006. Mattie was a Calico cat and he and I designed his costume together. However, this costume has a story to it. When I reflect on Mattie's life, I sometimes forget the fact that he did not celebrate Halloween in 2005. In fact, I made this costume for Halloween of 2005, but that year, Mattie developed a terrible infection which brought us to Virginia Hospital Center (VHC). Mattie and I stayed together at VHC for several days as they tried to determine why he was SO ill. However, one of the days in which we were in-patient was Halloween! Unlike Georgetown, VHC has no child life department and at the time it was truly not child friendly. So there were NO Halloween activities in the Hospital of any kind for Mattie to participate in. Needless to say, I packed away the Calico cat costume and fortunately because it was made out of sweat suit material, Mattie was able to wear it in 2006. If you have been watching the progression of costumes over the last couple of nights (through blog photos), you most likely see a trend. Every costume was made out of sweat suit material!

Quote of the day: Have compassion for everyone you meet, even if they don't want it. What appears bad manners, an ill temper or cynicism is always a sign of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen. You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone. ~ Miller Williams


I started my day with going to zumba. I find when I exercise, I have more energy to take on the various components of my day. It was a glorious weather day in Washington, DC, so after class my friend Heidi and I had lunch together outside. While at lunch, Heidi invited me to a lecture tonight by an organization called, Rachel's Challenge. Not having a child in school anymore, I am not up to speed with the various programs offered to children and parents. However, I went to the Rachel's Challenge website (http://www.rachelschallenge.org/) and learned that Rachel was one of the first students killed in Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. The website is very touching and meaningful and clearly this dedicated group has put together a traveling outreach program to help teens, in order to try to prevent another Columbine from happening. So this evening, I will be attending a Rachel's Challenge event and I will report back tomorrow about this experience.

In light of the lecture I am going to, I think tonight's quote is quite meaningful. Because we truly do not know what is going on under the surface of children, teens, and adults we interact with. We come to our own conclusions based on how people treat us, but there is always an explanation for the behavior we see. It is just how patient and compassionate are we going to be to understand this behavior? I realize this is easier said than done. Yet, I am deeply saddened to see the video on Rachel's Challenge website which talks about the significant number of children and teens each day who have an actual plan for suicide. Which is why I think the role of a teacher is far more complicated today than it was when I was growing up. Teachers in many cases are the first responders to the issues they see with children in their classrooms. These are issues most teachers are not trained to contend with, and in our litigious society, I suspect many of the issues spotted get swept up under the rug by administration to avoid confronting the issue. Unfortunately when issues are not dealt with, they only grow bigger not smaller, and as Columbine illustrated to us some issues can implode and take down an entire school.

May we all find the time, energy, and desire within ourselves to stop and listen to those in our lives, even occasionally. Listening is by far one of the greatest gifts we can give another human being.

October 22, 2012

Monday, October 22, 2012

Monday, October 22, 2012

Tonight's picture was taken in October of 2004. Mattie was two and a half years old, and just like the costume photo from last night (taken at age 1), Mattie did not want a cumbersome costume at age two. Soft textures were important to him and together we picked out this Pooh costume. From my perspective, I never saw a cuter Winnie the Pooh!


Quote of the day: Consider the postage stamp: its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing till it gets there. ~ Josh Billings




As I look at the calendar, I realize next week is Halloween. I know that logically but from an emotional standpoint, this is the furthest thing from my mind. Except of course that I see pumpkins, decorations, costumes, and Halloween party discussions all around me. So last night, I decided to go through my October electronic photo files to feature a picture on the blog of Mattie during Halloween. Mattie celebrated six Halloweens, though he died at age 7, he was a month shy of his 7th Halloween celebration. Trick or treating with Mattie was a riot, because unlike the other kids, Mattie could care less about the candy. In fact, Mattie gave the candy to his friends or to me. Which was truly funny. Nonetheless, he enjoyed running around from house to house, seeing how people decorated, and of course loved the fact that he could use a flash light and other light up gear to walk around in the dark. Mattie loved flashlights and had quite a collection. Not unlike Peter, so apparently it runs in the genes!

I came across tonight's quote and it happened to bring a chuckle to my face. Though it may sound funny, there is a great deal of truth to the loyalty of a stamp. The reason a letter gets through the US Postal service to its final destination is because of the stamp. Without the stamp, nothing gets transmitted. In a way, there are many times in life where we too have to be like a stamp. We have to stick to a task, a conviction, or a belief until we accomplish what we set out to do. Now this is easier said than done, in comparison to a stamp. As we know once a stamp is stuck on, it doesn't have to contend with the thoughts, feelings, and highs and lows of other people. All of which can get us side tracked from our ultimate goal.

On a non-Foundation related task, I sit on a parent board at Georgetown University Hospital. One of the things I am very convicted about is changing the admission process at the hospital for long-term patients. At the moment the system is redundant, a complete waste of time and an energy drain on harried parents, not to mention the fact that it is not user friendly. I have been working on this issue since the summer. I have verbalized my concerns, and today I finally submitted them in writing. Before doing this, I had the opportunity to meet with Mattie's sedation nurse angel, Debbi. I wanted Debbi to read my letter and make sure what I was reporting was accurate. It would be very easy to walk away from the Hospital and certainly the whole admissions process. After all, I suffered through it for over a year, so I suppose others can too. But I am not happy with that! So like the stamp, I am stuck on this issue and won't let it go. If you could read the letter I wrote detailing the concerns then I know you would understand just how cumbersome and UNNECESSARY the admissions process is for families.

Certainly acting like a stamp can cause others to do one of two things..... they can truly appreciate our tenacity, or feel as if our energy and passion we are bringing to the issue are over the top. It takes courage to be a human stamp sometimes, but at the end of the day, without tenacity, conviction, and passion, change typically won't occur.
 

October 21, 2012

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Tonight's picture was taken in October of 2003. Mattie was a year and a half old, and had no interest in putting on a Halloween costume that year. Or anything itchy or scratchy for that matter. Yet this pumpkin sweatsuit was the perfect choice. It was fuzzy and cozy and Mattie naturally gravitated to the colors orange and red.


Quote of the day: In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. ~ Albert Schweitzer
 
Today was a beautiful weather day in Washington, DC. Typically Peter and I do not do separate things on the weekends, but I was invited to lunch today by my friend and one of my former clinical supervisors. I met Carla at a restaurant tucked into a lovely neighborhood of Chevy Chase, MD. It was as if we were transported to France and were dining within a french bistro, filled with charming Provincial decor. The setting was lovely on a crisp fall day, surrounded by trees. We had a wonderful brunch together and talked about a whole host of things. Carla and I always had a lot in common, and our love for food and for trying new restaurants is definitely one of them.

We talked about friendships today, and one of the things Carla said which intrigued me was that we select friendships that match our developmental level or need. From a clinical standpoint, one's developmental level does not always match one's biological age! Yet during each of our life stages, we do find that we may gravitate to certain friends because they fill a need or void within our lives. Not all friendships can stand the test of time or the many seasons of our lives. The individuals who can are rare, few and far between, and naturally deemed special. As Carla and I know, so many people come to therapy because of these special voids within their lives. Living in the DC area, or most likely any major city, makes it challenging to develop meaningful and trustworthy relationships. Cities can breed competition, pettiness, and jealousy, which do not form the cornerstones of a solid and lasting relationship. Needless to say, we always have interesting clinical dialogues which get me thinking.



I would like to share three pictures with you this evening. The first one I entitle, "A room with a view." This is the picture window in our living room. At this time of year, the light changes with the Fall season, and yet you can see my geraniums are a glow, and Mattie's beautiful Oak tree (right outside our window) is turning colors. Mattie loved this oak tree because every spring we would pick leaves from this tree to feed to his tent moth caterpillars. It is the only oak tree around us! But what you can see from this picture is that we are surrounded by plants inside and outside. Soon many of our outdoor plants will be coming inside, and it is at that point our living room truly looks like a jungle.
 

In the corner of our living room is this plant stand. I no longer use it for plants, but instead it has become our Mattie corner. The stand is filled with pieces of pottery Mattie created, his hand print in clay, some of his Lego creations, seashells he liked, a huge American Flag he picked out at Home Depot when he had cancer, and on top of the stand is an Indiana Jones hat given to Mattie by his buddy Zachary.

From our balcony we can see this beautiful tree, which looks like it is on fire. Fall is all around us and on a glorious sunny day, I do appreciate the colors that only nature could create.