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

March 30, 2013

Saturday, March 30, 2013


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2004, on the day we celebrated Mattie's second birthday. As last night's blog photo indicated, Mattie's first birthday theme was ELMO. Mattie's second birthday theme was TRAINS. Mattie LOVED trains and we created train tracks on our ceiling made out of streamers. Mattie's first three birthdays I held in our home and I literally ran the parties with games, activities for the kids, and we even transformed our hallway wall. We lined it with paper and all sorts of puzzles and games so that kids could draw on it and color. This activity wall was always a huge hit! Mattie loved it so much, we would keep it up for days after his party was over for him to continue creating.

Quote of the day: There is no teacher more discriminating or transforming than loss. ~ Pat Conroy


There are many reasons why I write and continue to write Mattie's blog. It is most definitely a labor of love, especially considering that I write it EVERY day and have done so since July of 2008. This coming July, will mark the blog's FIVE year anniversary of daily writing. Writing daily takes discipline and I would add courage. Especially since the blog does hit on very real emotional content for us. I know I have friends who at times tell me they no longer read the blog. I am sure there are various reasons for this, one of which I have been told is that some feel I am not being completely honest on the blog. I absorb this commentary, but in all reality, my daily writings do reflect for the most part where I am at. Sure I spare readers insights on some things, call it writer's intuition or prerogative, or the need for some privacy on certain things. But the blog is indeed me, Peter, and reflections of our Mattie. So when someone tells me they don't read the blog because it doesn't capture our "true" reality, this does bother me. Whether I write my every conscious thought or not isn't the point of the blog. The point is I write and through this writing Mattie's memory remains very much alive for all of us. Even for people who never met Mattie before.

One of the special things about Mattie's blog is that it connects me to so many amazing and incredible people. Some of these people I have never met before and therefore I do not know them. This morning, as my eyes opened up, I turned to my Blackberry. It is a habit I developed while Mattie had cancer and this routine is embedded within me. My blackberry is never far from me. The first message I read this morning was from a person I do not know, but I know she is a blog reader, and that we are part of the unique club... the club of moms who lost a child. I call this friend, "Hugs from Burbank." I have given her this title because this is how she signs her blog postings to me.

"Hugs from Burbank's" posting is below. I copied it here because I realize some of my readers may not have seen it attached to last night's posting.


===========================================

Dear Vicki,
I hope your headaches subside soon so
you can enjoy a relaxing time away. As Mattie's birthday approaches, I understand your pain and truly empathize with you and Peter.

We just went through our girl's first birthday without her, she would've been 21, and Monday will be one year since she left us. Such is life, but it doesn't make any sense, and it sure doesn't get any easier. We promised her that we would be okay, so she could go ahead and move on to her next mission, and we are doing our best on a daily basis, but some days are just too much.

I truly appreciate and respect you, for you never stop sharing about Mattie, no matter how bad a day you are having. That speaks not only of your undeniable love for your beautiful boy, but of the commitment you have to keeping his memory alive and sharing him with all of us. Please know that you are not alone, that your readers understand you and are with you, that I understand you and am with you. I find myself nodding in agreement many times when you express the feelings you and Peter go through. It's unfathomable, unless you have lived through such horror.

Praying for better, sunnier days ahead, and sending you healing hugs from Burbank.
===========================================

After I read this message this morning, I found it so meaningful that I landed up crying. It is just horrible that this family lost a beautiful 20 year old, who would have just celebrated her 21st birthday!!! My thoughts go out to my Burbank friend who I know has to be in deep pain as she reflects on the fact that she never saw her daughter turn 21 and on the back of that reality is now faced with the one year anniversary of her daughter's death on Monday. The first year without one's child is a gut wrenching pain that is indescribable but as "Hugs" is so perceptive to already, she understands that grief as a result of the death of a child is a lifelong feeling and process. I completely agree with "Hugs from Burbank." We understand each other because we have both "lived through such horror." No matter how much we write about it or verbalize it to others, at the end of the day, it is only us who are living with this trauma and loss. For us this is our life and our future. This email means a lot to me for SO many reasons. I can see Mattie's story has made it all the way across the Country, I can see that the death of a child has a way of uniting people, even people who never met one another, and I am also comforted on some level that what I am writing about resonates with other parents who also lost a child. In essence Mattie's cancer and death must have a purpose. There really is no purpose that brings me peace, but I think what I am trying to say is self explanatory.  



We had another slow day because neither one of us has the energy to do much. I started out feeling better headache wise, but by this evening I am right back where I started. In the mornings, we have the routine of sitting outside on the deck to breathe in the fresh air for at least two hours. Each day we have been greeted by this Red Headed Finch. He has a glorious voice and he sits right near us bringing a serenade.



This afternoon we were getting stir crazy, so we decided to go for a walk on a new trail (for us) called the Sea Hawk Trail. This trail was a pip! It was supposed to be a lovely 1.5 mile walk. However, look at what this trail required...... one to jump over water!!! I said to Peter that this couldn't possibly be the trail, but I did make a flying leap. Peter was getting ready to catch me, until I did a running dancing leap across the water. With that Peter laughed and told me, I needed NO help at all. Needless to say we walked about five more minutes on this path and then we turned around because to me this wasn't how the path was described and I figured we made a wrong turn. Needless to say, I had to make the same flying leap back!



Along the trail, we were able to see the Indian River and its Bridge! The water was absolutely beautiful and peaceful!












We weren't alone at the Indian River..... there was a beautiful Great White Heron who claimed a lagoon in the River. I am glad we went out even for a little bit today and got to see the water and these new sights.

March 29, 2013

Friday, March 29, 2013

Friday, March 29, 2013

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2003, during Mattie's first birthday party. Starting last night, I decided to feature a birthday photo of Mattie (in chronological order) for the next week! Which will bring us to Mattie's 11th birthday on April 4th. Mattie's first birthday party theme was ELMO! Mattie was never a couch potato, nor was he ever glued to the TV or any other device for that matter. Mattie was a creatively active child from day one. However, if Sesame Street was on TV, and Mattie heard ELMO, he would stop whatever he was doing and stare at the TV. ELMO captured Mattie's attention. I am not sure if it was ELMO's voice or color, but it was clear that ELMO meant something to Mattie. Therefore when selecting a birthday theme, I picked something that clearly Mattie loved.

Quote of the day: When love dies, the heart's ashes do not leave on the wind—they rest on the mantelpiece of the soul, darkening the sunrise we once saw to be beautiful. ~ A.M. Hudson


Last night there was a beautiful FULL moon sitting right over the ocean. Peter went outside and captured some wonderful photos of Mattie Moon. You may think there is some sort of haziness or blur to this photo. However, what Peter was able to capture besides the moon, was a beautiful moon beam. I have heard of moon beams but not until last night had I ever seen one.


I had a difficult night of sleep and woke up with just as an intense headache as I went to bed with. I have had an excruciating headache for over two weeks straight. It is beyond pain, it is debilitating. Peter has me on a three day NO work schedule. If he sees me working or even focusing on work, he remedies the situation. This morning, though it was cold out, the sun was glorious. So we sat outside on the deck. It maybe March, but Peter's skin burns easily, so he was all covered up. I thought this look was so funny, I snapped a photo of him! Notice the Boston Red Sox blanket! Mattie was given this blanket when he was battling cancer and it is one of many that I still have and we use.

While sitting on the deck, this is the view of the Atlantic Ocean that we can see. I think the highlight of my day was just sitting still, listening to the birds and ocean, and spending time with Peter chatting. We carry a lot of sadness around with us and when I stop moving and working, this is usually when I begin to cry. It doesn't take much to set me off, especially when I have such intense head pain. Such pain is frightening because the greatest fear is when or if it will end? Before we left Washington, DC, Peter said something to me that caught my attention. We focus on helping people daily in both our personal and professional lives and all of this helping is draining. Yet both of us have so much that we are working through individually and with each other. So his point was we need to get away and have these moments to make sure we are okay as people and as a couple. My joke with Peter is that he missed his calling as a therapist! His insights are usually spot on. I am hoping a weekend of not working on anything Foundation related restores some sort of balance in my life and body.
 

March 28, 2013

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Tonight's picture was taken on April 4, 2002, the day Mattie was born. Mattie was born at 12:53 am, and as Peter says, I was OUT OF IT. I had a hard labor and delivery, almost 48 hours long, with an 102 fever, and my first migraine. In addition, during an emergency C-section, a grapefruit size tumor was found on my bladder. So as Mattie made his way to the nursery, I underwent surgery. Peter stayed with Mattie the whole time and took this beautiful picture of Mattie greeting the world in the nursery. Mattie was born VERY alert. Mattie LOVED hearing me tell his birth story to him, and on April 4th, I will share this story once again with my readers. The last time I retold this story to Mattie was on August 5, 2009, the day we found out his cancer case was terminal. Mattie and I were sitting in the hospital garden, and out of the blue, he wanted to sit in my lap and hear his birth story once again! I remember that moment in time like it were yesterday. He knew something was gravely wrong before all of us. Hearing the story that day made us briefly forget the horror that was before us.


Quote of the day: If a mother is mourning not for what she has lost but for what her dead child has lost, it is a comfort to believe that the child has not lost the end for which it was created. And it is a comfort to believe that she herself, in losing her chief or only natural happiness, has not lost a greater thing. The specifically maternal happiness must be written off. Never, in any place or time, will she have her son on her knees, or bathe him, or tell him a story, or plan for his future, or see her grandchild. ~  C.S. Lewis


Today Peter and I drove to Delaware. It took us about two hours. I know I was sitting next to Peter, but I was mentally out of it. We had the radio on the whole time, and listened to various broadcasts. I had trouble even concentrating on what the person was talking about on the radio. Which registers how tired I am. As we were crossing the Bay Bridge, I got out my camera to start taking pictures. 

While on the bridge, I snapped a picture of these tankers on Chesapeake Bay. It was a cold day in the 40's and rather grey. Yet despite the weather, the sea birds are a wonderful sight to see. 















Maybe because I live in the city, but I am fascinated with farms and farming trucks, like this Fertilizer. This big green thing was driving right next to us, and all I could imagine was if Mattie was with us he would be screaming with excitement in the back seat. I had absolutely NO interest in trucks, cars, trains, or planes before Mattie came into my life. But Mattie gravitated to anything with wheels and therefore I too got an education about the different trucks and forms of locomotion. Mattie may no longer be with me physically, but his excitement over seeing such vehicles lives on in me. 


Peter passed this farm rather quickly, but I tried snapping a photo of it anyway. Those of you who know me well, know I LOVE cows. Particularly Holstein cows. Their black and white patterns just capture my attention. Peter is always perplexed with my love of cows, and today as we were passing fields, farms, and cows, all I could smell was manure! So now I get why Peter was perplexed! 

On the car trip to the beach, there seems to be miles and miles of farms. As far as the eye can see. When we got to our friend Ellen's house, the ocean looked very grey. As the sky changed throughout the afternoon, the color of the water was also transforming. Though it was too cold in my book to walk along the water, I could see it, and that alone is a special sighting!


March 27, 2013

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tonight's picture was taken on Easter of 2006. We took Mattie out to his favorite restaurant for Easter Brunch. What we weren't expecting was a visit from the Easter Bunny. When this large bunny first approached our table, Mattie was scared. However he was braver than I was at his age, because I would have dove right under the table to hide. Mattie did pose with the bunny and this has to be one of my favorite Easter pictures of Mattie. I think what I love about it is that it just happened. None of us planned it, and yet this photo captures a very special moment in time!


Quote of the day: There is something about the presence of a cat...that seems to take the bite out of being alone. ~ Louis Camuti


Tonight's quote resonates with me. Patches, in her own furry way managed to fill up our home. Her presence made us feel connected to something and she was an important part of our family unit. When I go up and down the stairs now, I find I am still looking for her. When I am putting laundry away, I am expecting a meowing commentary, and most definitely when my feet touch the floor in the morning, I am expecting her to shuttle me downstairs for a treat. Of course none of this is happening anymore! All week, while making the bed, I find I am singing (it is a spontaneous song, I am not thinking about it).... I've grown accustomed to her face! That may not mean much to my readers, unless you are a "My Fair Lady" affectionado, like myself. I have gotten so used to Patches routines, that not having her around, causes a cascade of emotions, feelings, and thoughts. She is missed, and not having my day time buddy, co-worker, and companion around makes for a very lonely existence.

I did all sorts of chores today to get ready to leave tomorrow for Delaware. Before I returned home, I went to visit my friend Mary, who lives in an assisted living facility. Earlier in the week, I brought Mary a miniature pink rose for Easter and a few weeks ago, I planted an amaryllis bulb in a flower pot in her room. We are watching these living things grow together, which in my opinion such greenery is crucial to have around you when living in an institution.

Mary was completely mute today, but she is able to blink. So when I ask her questions now I have her blink once for yes and two for no. It seems to be working. Mary loves to hold tissues in her right hand, but today she dropped the tissues and extended her hand. So literally I grabbed her hand and held it for quite some time until her dinner arrived. I think a lot can be conveyed through one's eyes and the touch of one's hand. While holding Mary's hand, I began to massage her hand. What surprised me is that Mary's index finger was rubbing my hand back in the process. It was very touching.


Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2006. You can see Patches on our staircase but also featured was Mattie, along with the play scheme he devised. Mattie decided to put the cat's toy on the staircase and try to coax her to play with it and him. I am not sure how successful this venture turned out to be but it occupied Mattie's attention and he was definitely determined. I will never forget Patches loyalty and good nature toward Mattie! 

 

March 26, 2013

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 -- Mattie died 185 weeks ago today.


Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2006. I took Mattie to the Reston Zoo that day and as you can see the Zoo was ready for Easter. Mattie loved the thrill of hunting for eggs, however, as my faithful readers know, Mattie disliked candy and most sweets. On this particular issue, the apple fell VERY far from the tree. The funny part about Mattie was he would collect candy and give it all to me. Most parents give candy to their children, in my case it was the exact opposite!!! Sometimes I just had to laugh over Mattie's choices and preferences.



Quote of the day: Cats are dangerous companions for writers because cat watching is a near-perfect method of writing avoidance. ~ Dan Greenburg

I began my day back at Virginia Hospital Center. I feel like I might as well set up a tent at a hospital! This morning I went to see my internist because I couldn't take the headache pain ANY longer. I could have seen my neurologist, but I have to be in the mood for his attitude. Which is why my nickname for him is "Mr. Personality." I had a horrible night of sleep, and between that and intense pain, I told my doctor I was ready to put a screw threw my head just to get rid of the pressure.

Based on the seasonal time of year, we both arrived at the conclusion that my daily headaches could be worse because of a sinus infection. Thank goodness there is an explanation for this. So I am hoping that antibiotics help my head pain. After my doctor's visit and trip to the pharmacy, my goal was to run a few more chores and then try to have a relatively stress free day. FUNNY! That did not happen.

I went to Virginia today to pick up our Foundation mail. When I returned to my car in an outdoor parking lot, I found a couple looking, pointing, and staring at my car. When I got closer, they asked if that was my car. When I said it was, they had me come to the front passenger side. What I saw was horrible..... it was like Niagara Falls coming out of my car, and the fluid was pink to a light red color. It literally looked like the car was bleeding. When I saw this, I was NOT happy. Especially since we just had the car serviced last week!

Upon reflection I had two blessings happen to me today. The first was that this couple saw this flood and told me about it. Because I later learned that an O ring exploded and all my coolant burst out of the car. If I had driven the car, I could have done great damage to the engine. So while I wasn't in the mood to deal with this, they could have potentially saved my life. Because if I drove on the highway, the car dealer told Peter, the car wouldn't have made it far!

Because I am tired and not feeling well, my brain wasn't functioning today. Literally I couldn't even think through what to do with this pink pooling car. So I called Peter and we came up with a plan. So thankfully AAA came to my car's rescue, and my second blessing is my friend Tina came to mine.

Tina sat with me while I waited for AAA and then after this was all over, she drove me back home to DC. Mind you she is getting ready to take her children on spring break tomorrow, yet found time to help me. This means a lot to me, especially when I am not feeling well. Tina always makes me feel connected to something and always includes me in her plans. In fact, she is the first mom friend I made after Mattie's death. We are not bound by ties between our children, but instead through our own mutual interests, preferences, and care.

This afternoon, I wanted to do laundry, so that when I get home from our time away I won't have additional things to clean. While I was in our complex's laundry room, I met one of my neighbors who lives above me. She wanted me to know how much she LOVES our garden and can't wait to see what we put together this spring. She truly feels our garden makes a difference in her life and in those around us. I love my secret garden and I am happy my neighbors above us appreciate it too. Somehow her comment just made me smile, feel appreciated, and special. It is nice to know that what Peter and I do in our garden brings joy to others.  


I end tonight's posting with this photo of Patches taken in May of 2006. Mattie wasn't the only one who loved outdoor time and the frog sandbox. As spring approaches, I will miss my two buddies coming outside with me into our garden!









 

March 25, 2013

Monday, March 25, 2013

Monday, March 25, 2013

Tonight's picture was taken in March of 2005. Mattie was almost three years old. Peter and I took Mattie to Butler's Orchard in Maryland every fall and spring. In the Spring, the farm put together a "Bunnyville" event that was absolutely adorable. Mattie loved riding on the tractors and he especially appreciated how all the activities were done in big and wide open spaces! As you can see, Mattie and I posed in front of this wonderful bunny haystack!







Quote of the day: Perhaps it is because cats do not live by human patterns, do not fit themselves into prescribed behavior, that they are so united to creative people. ~ Andre Norton


It is almost the end of March and it is still cold, damp, and YES we even have snow. I went to Georgetown Hospital today to meet with one of our nursing friends and as I parked the car, I felt that this sight was worth a picture. I think it captures the greyness of the day and the newly fallen snow! Winter just won't go away!


This evening Peter took me to Virginia Hospital Center for a neck and spine MRI. The tech asked me if I ever had an MRI before. I told him I had and therefore I guess he figured this was old hat for me. Unlike the techs at Georgetown, this tech did not give me breaks between images, nor did he tell me how much longer I was going to be in the scanner. That was very disorienting not knowing the timing and to hear constant banging for 40 minutes straight is challenging. None the less, I kept my eyes closed and just managed through it!

The highlight of the hospital trip greeted me, after the scan, in the MRI waiting area. When I headed out to Peter, I found Tim, our friend and administrator from Georgetown University Hospital sitting with Peter. Tim always surprises me at Georgetown and has sat with me in both the MRI waiting area and in the adult oncology clinic as I waited to see my doctor. However, I never suspected that Tim would keep up this touching tradition in another hospital. It was a very special gift to see a friend after the MRI, and it was so thoughtful to know that someone was thinking about Peter while he was sitting waiting for me. Sometimes the waiting is worse than the test itself. Tim understands this!

We waited together after my MRI was over, because I needed my images put on a disc. After about 15 minutes of waiting, the radiology assistant brought out my images on a disc for me. She had me sign a form and then said... "I'm sure you are very happy to get out of here now!" I told her the waiting wasn't that bad because I had a friend surprise me with a visit. She turned to look at Tim, and then she asked me, how ever did I find such a good friend?! In all reality it is a long story, which of course would involve Mattie, his cancer battle, and naturally the Foundation. We spared her the story, but Tim's visit reminds me once again how important human connections are and what a difference they make in my life.


If I were to title this picture, I would call it, "The Escape!" If Patches did not like the noise around her or if she deemed Mattie dangerous to her, she would literally jump onto our sideboard and then from there jump onto our staircase and escape upstairs. In the early years, we had a gate that prevented Mattie from climbing up the stairs. So Patches knew if she got to the staircase she was SAFE! Patches never scratched, pawed at, or hissed at Mattie. She just understood that this behavior wouldn't be tolerated. But it was deeper than that. Patches deemed herself as part of the family, and family members are not supposed to hurt one another. This was just instinct to her!
 

March 24, 2013

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2004. That day, Peter and I took Mattie to the National Zoo. Peter captured a precious moment in time between us and some of the photos snapped minutes apart from each other were an absolute riot. This was just naturally Mattie, he did not know Peter was taking pictures of us. I typically don't show more than one photo of Mattie a night, but since there were several in this series, I decided it would make sense to illustrate Mattie in action!


Quote of the day:  A meow massages the heart. ~ Stuart McMillan


This next photo may look posed, but I assure you it was not! It happened minutes after the photo above was taken. Mattie had his affectionate moments and one of the things he absolutely loved was rubbing cheek to cheek!




Peter and I worked on Foundation items this morning, and unlike my usual weekends, this weekend I was actually productive. I got a lot done in the morning and then Peter and I ventured out in the afternoon. There have been many adjustments for us now without Patches. For example, Peter told me that he walked down the cat food aisle in the grocery store this weekend. He has been conditioned for 17 years to buy food for Patches. So it is hard habit to break, not unlike the habit we had to break when we went to Target, a gift store, or any other kind of shopping after Mattie died. For seven years we were used to buying things for Mattie, picking up toys or other items we thought he would like. It took us a while to understand that these kid aisles no longer applied to us. It was a painful but very real rude awakening. Just like having to by-pass the cat food aisle now!

Tomorrow evening (yes 7:30pm!) I have been scheduled for an MRI. The imaging is of my neck and spine to try to figure out why I have been having numbness and pain since January. I am told that I will be in the machine for an hour! Seems like a perfect place for someone with a massive headache. I have taken MRIs in three different locations around Washington, DC. But I selected to return to the hospital that Mattie was born in and where he was diagnosed with cancer for tomorrow night's testing. Last week I saw an orthopedist who specializes in backs. Ironically there are not a ton of people who specialize in backs, which surprised me. This doctor was a good listener, and when I told him about Mattie, he was deeply sorry, and also understood why I would have great concern given these long-term symptoms. As I told him, I am good at living with pain, I just rather hear from his mouth that this pain is normal rather than falsely determine this on my own.


I end tonight's posting with this photo I took in December of 2004. Mattie was two years old and as you can see both he and Patches were fascinated with the Christmas packing box being stored under our staircase. Patches wanted to rub against it and Mattie wanted to open it. They were quite a duo!