Mattie Miracle 8th Annual Walk & Family Festival was an $88,000 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

Random Shots of Mattie, Family and Friends

June 22, 2013

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2005. Mattie was three years old and he was on our deck in his blue beluga whale pool! I am sure when you look at this photo you are thinking that Mattie loved the sheer joy of splashing around in the water and getting wet. Well that would be partially correct! The true enjoyment however of the pool was that Mattie could bring his toys outside and throw them in the pool and play with them. Honestly the pool would be filled with everything from cars, trucks, trains, balls, and cups. You name it and it was probably in there!!!



Quote of the day: How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world. ~ William Shakespeare


Last night Peter and I went back to Wolf Trap, an outdoor amphitheater in Virginia, to see The Tenors. Not unlike the Celtic Woman (the concert we saw last week), we were introduced to The Tenors through PBS. This is quite a foursome with amazing voices. This group has been together for only five years and they are a unique blend of classical, opera, contemporary pop, and world music. They are versatile and can sing in English, Spanish, French, and Italian! Originally they were known as the "Canadian Tenors," since all four of these men are Canadian. However, they had a name change, and are now just "The Tenors." They have two studio albums, of which one has already gone platinum and their 2012 album won the inaugural award for adult contemporary album of the year at the Juno Awards.

Before The Tenors performed last night we were greeted by a young college graduate named Sara L. Prendergast. Sara shared with us a bit of her life story. In essence she grew up with two drug abusive parents and was eventually placed in foster care, which wasn't any better. However, despite her upbringing she remained focused and committed as a student and applied to the Horatio Alger's Association for a college scholarship. She won the scholarship which supported her tuition to attend Georgetown University. She was very appreciative of this support and wanted to illustrate to us that this funding helped to change her life around and now anything is possible for her. Why was she telling us this story? I admit this is a STRANGE way to open up a concert!!! She was telling us this because The Tenors serve as envoys in support of the Horatio Alger Association!!! In this important diplomatic role, the group is committed to advancing the mission and outreach of the Association throughout North America.

The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans is one of the premiere scholarship organizations in the United States. The Horatio Alger Association is one of the foremost charitable organizations in the world and has provided more than $100 million in scholarships to 20,000 at risk and underprivileged students since it’s formation in 1984. Beyond the tremendous financial contributions of the organization, Horatio Alger makes it possible for hundreds of young people to stay in school and provides post-graduate support as they launch careers and graduate study.

In addition to their magnificent voices, it is evident that The Tenors care about people. It comes across not only in their envoy role, but also they invited a woman up on stage and gave her flowers and sang to her. She was invited on the stage because she won a local radio station contest promoting The Tenors. I am not sure what was more adorable, watching them serenade this woman, or watching Linda up there in awe of who she was standing next to! Throughout the evening, each of these men shared a story with us from their lives. We learned about their parents (siblings, grandparents, and children), they told us a little bit about who inspired them to perform (two of them claim to be VERY SHY), and how they learned to sing. They had a genuine way of connecting with their audience. There was NO light show, no big costume changes, just wonderful music. In addition to wonderful voices, they also surround themselves with talented musicians. They introduced us to each musician and really featured their talent along with their own. If you are not familiar with this incredible group, I attached two youtube videos featuring their music.
 


Anchor Me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqsiHRCuJdo
 

As the concert was coming to an end last night, the last song the group sang was their rendition of Alleluia. I am not sure what was more magnificent the song or the fact that a HUGE Mattie Moon had just appears by a corner of the amphitheater. It was kind of a surreal moment in a way as if Mattie was there with us, shining down and enjoying the music.  

June 21, 2013

Friday, June 21, 2013

Friday, June 21, 2013

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2006. This was CLASSIC Mattie! Mattie had access to all sorts of toys! However, other than Legos, I think a close second favorite were cardboard boxes. There really was no telling how Mattie could transform a box!!! He could reshape it, build upon it, and decorate it! Some of his best box creations were an apartment complex with a working elevator as well as a prop plane. I will never forget the prop plane. Mattie built it at Sloan Kettering in NY. Linda, Mattie's Child Life Specialist, contacted the child life specialist in NY and suggested she save boxes for Mattie's arrival. Well this lady saved a very large box for Mattie and several smaller one. The Sloan Kettering folks couldn't get over how Mattie transformed this box. It became a beautiful plane that he painted blue. Mattie was so attached to this plane that we had to take it in a taxi with us to the hotel. Mind you this thing was as big as I am! We took photos of the plane but left it in NY because if we had taken it there wouldn't have been enough room in the car for all of us to get back to DC.

Quote of the day: Time is our most precious treasure because it is limited. We can produce more wealth, but we cannot produce more time. When we give someone our time, we actually give a portion of our life that we will never take back. ~ Alexander the Great


My dad sent me tonight's quote from Alexander the Great. I truly believe in the sentiments of this quote. We live in such a BUSY world today where we really do not have time to even listen and support each other. It is no wonder why the counseling profession is SO BUSY. But giving of our time is actually quite selfless. These are moments we will never get back again and at times these moments may be viewed by others as wasted time. After all, in helping someone else it directly takes away the time one needs for one's self. Yet I do not believe that time spent with others is unidirectional. Some of the best gifts one can receive is the personal connection, understanding, and the sharing of thoughts and feelings that can ONLY occur when you are giving of your own time. The beauty of love and friendship is that it must be nurtured and the only way to nurture something is with the devotion of time. May we all be able to devote time to those around us as well as be the recipient of others' time. Chances are if you think about some of your life's greatest moments I bet they revolve around spending time with someone!

I think dealing with the loss of an only child is like watching a leaky sink faucet. The water is always dripping, that is a constant, yet over time and most days you can ignore the drip. You get used to it! It is there, but manageable. However, sometimes the drip becomes a full fledged problem and water goes everywhere. Not unlike grief, at times the pain from the reality becomes like a flood. You can't compartmentalize it, instead it leaks out and through everything. How you look at the world, the people around you, and tomorrow and the next day. Typically Peter and I both "leak" daily but there are occasions when we both "flood." Mind you it is fortunate that our flooding usually doesn't occur at the same time. That way one of us can support the other. But when the leak becomes a flood for both of us, then the challenges arise. This week, we are both overwhelmed from various things or triggers and it becomes hard to know how to handle this, because it takes a lot of strength to pull one's self out of this funk, and there is very little left over to give to the other person. So this is where we are at. Tonight we are heading back to Wolf Trap, the outdoor amphitheater and it is my hope that a musical distraction will temporarily help the situation. I leave you tonight with a meaningful email that is floating through cyberspace regarding Alexander the Great's last wishes. 

===========================================================
The last wishes of Alexander the Great:
On his death bed, Alexander summoned his generals and told them his three ultimate wishes:

1.  The best doctors should carry his coffin;
2.  The wealth he has accumulated (money, gold, precious stones) should be scattered along the procession to the cemetery, and
3.  His hands should be let loose, hanging outside the coffin for all to see.

One of his generals who was surprised by these unusual requests asked Alexander to explain.

Here is what Alexander the Great had to say:
1.  I want the best doctors to carry my coffin to demonstrate that, in the face of death, even the best doctors in the world have no power to heal.

2.  I want the road to be covered with my treasure so that everybody sees that material wealth acquired on earth, stays on earth.

3.  I want my hands to swing in the wind, so that people understand that we come to this world empty handed and we leave this world empty handed after the most precious treasure of all is exhausted, and that is TIME.

June 20, 2013

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2006. I happen to love this photo. Mattie went with his closest preschool buddy, Zachary to see Thomas the Tank Engine. From my perspective, this photo captured the innocence, energy, and joy between two friends.  




Quote of the day: One swing set, well worn but structurally sound, seeks a new home. Make memories with your kid or kids so that someday he or she or they will look into the backyard and feel the ache of sentimentality as desperately as I did this afternoon. It's all fragile and fleeting, dear reader, but with this swing set, your child(ren) will be introduced to the ups and downs of human life gently and safely, and may also learn the most important lesson of all: No matter how hard you kick, no matter how high you get, you can't go all the way around. ~ John Green


As my faithful readers know, in February of 2012, on a CT scan of my bladder, some unexpected results were found. Since that point, every three to six months, I go to Georgetown University Hospital for a pelvic MRI. This afternoon, I had another MRI. To prepare for the MRI, you have to fast for five hours. No food or drink of any kind. Heading back to Georgetown, especially the MRI radiology department is challenging. Mattie had so many MRI's, I lost count. With Mattie, each MRI brought more bad news and illustrated we were losing his cancer battle. It is hard to separate Mattie and me sometimes, and therefore scanning of any kind can be upsetting.

I felt badly for the tech who was assigned to work with me. She couldn't find a vein to give me an IV. I need an IV, since this is an MRI with contrast. So I was then moved along to another tech! This tech tried to start an IV, and instead hit a tendon in my left arm. Needless to say, I can't bend my left arm now, and it is very painful. I could see this tech was getting frustrated. After his first attempt, he moved on over to my right arm. He couldn't start an IV in my right arm either, so he landed up putting an IV in my right hand. I try to avoid IVs in my hand, since it is super painful, my hand can swell and become black and blue for days. But there was no other choice.

So I came into the MRI already worn out from the IV experience. Georgetown changed its policy and now pelvic MRIs are given while lying on your stomach. Like Mattie, this is not a position I care for. So basically I had to lie on my stomach for 45 minutes, with my head side ways. I am very sensitive to motion and somehow being on my stomach and the MRI table moving, made me completely motion sick! While undergoing the procedure, you also have to hold your breath for 25 seconds at a time. I must have done this at least 20 times. So by the time this procedure was over, I was dizzy, light headed, and sick to my stomach. So the fact that I am writing anything tonight is a feat.

One of the beautiful things however is while I was undergoing the MRI, our friend Tim (who is a Hospital administrator) came to sit with Peter. This means a great deal to me. Tim has his own issues this week with his mom in the Hospital, so the fact that he came to support us I think speaks volumes about Tim and our connection. It is very special to have a friend who wants to be there for us during these stressful moments and I assure you that getting an MRI is stressful for both Peter and me given our history with Mattie.
 

June 19, 2013

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2006. Mattie along with Peter, Mattie's friend Zachary, and Zachary's dad went to a "Day out with Thomas." Mattie loved Thomas the Tank Engine and the entire Thomas train series. Mattie and Zachary could pretend play with Thomas and the other trains from the series for hours! In essence, Mattie loved all things Thomas!!! While at the event, they rode on a train that was a Thomas replica, and as you can see Mattie was quite happy and checking on things outside his window!


Quote of the day: In the Book of Life, The answers aren't in the back. ~ Charles M. Schulz


This afternoon, I was doing laundry, and when I came back upstairs I found a surprise awaiting me on our deck. The surprise was these glorious sunflowers and a book about loss and grief, which was signed by the book's author. However, there was no card with the gift, so I had no idea who they were from. I am good at deducing reasoning, and by the process of elimination, I figured it out. Getting into our complex is challenging, therefore, I knew the flowers and book wasn't from a friend of mine who lives outside of our complex. It had to be from someone who has access to our common doors. So then I thought about our neighbors and given the nature of the book, I realized the gift came from our new neighbors above us. We met these neighbors in our parking garage this weekend. They innocently asked about Mattie's sandbox, since they can see this green frog from their window. They wanted to know if we had children. Peter usually answers this question more diplomatically than I do. Peter usually says "that's a long story." Whereas, I usually state the fact, "we had a son, but he died from cancer at age 7." Neither answer is right or wrong, but my answer can catch people off guard and in this case I could visually see that I upset our neighbors in our parking garage this weekend. After I put our laundry away, we then received a knock at our door and low and behold it was our new neighbor who I figured left us the gift. She handed me the card that slipped out of the flowers when she delivered them. Needless to say, our neighbors have been introduced to Mattie through our blog and clearly his story touched people who never even knew him.

Sunflowers are actually very special to me. They were given to me by Mattie's care community when he was battling cancer. I can't remember how many beautiful bouquets of sunflowers I received during those 15 months that Mattie was in treatment. Receiving these flowers today reminded me of Mattie and it also reminded me of Mattie's care team who supported us daily for over a year. It is funny how the sight of a flower can trigger a whole host of memories.

Last week I reported on the blog about Sarah Murnaghan, the 10 year old girl who was in desperate need of a lung transplant due to her battle with Cystic Fibrosis. I saw this follow up article today and it intrigued me. The "under 12 rule" is explained a bit more here but to me it still seems like an arbitrary cut off, a cut off that really is designed to keep the adult lung transplant organs available to people 12 years old and older. Keep in mind that since 1987, ONLY 11 children in this Country have received an adult lung transplant. In many ways, the demand for organs exceeds the supply, and therefore the controversy unfolds when it is perceived that by giving Sarah a lung, this is taking away another person's chance of survival. I understand that wholeheartedly, but that to me is the general problem with organ donations, not just with the "under 12 rule." Whether the organ went to an adult or a child, the point is someone is getting the organ, while another person isn't! It is really that plain and simple. Of course ethicists have an issue with the fact that the Murnaghan's advocated for their daughter and brought this to the media's attention. They would prefer if the family relied on the system that was in place (to avoid the advocate with the largest voice getting the organ). Frankly if parents relied on the system that is in place, with such scarce organ resources, their child would most likely die. There are currently 30 other children like Sarah in this Country awaiting a lung transplant. What happens to them? 

The article goes on to talk about how the annual organ donations are falling far behind demand, and they suggest the need to give people an incentive to donate organs. Such incentives suggested would include donating organs at death in exchange for a burial benefit or a contribution to the person's estate when the time came. As the article stated, "Compensating donors could spare us the heartbreak of rationing. Saving one person should not mean death for another." This topic could be debated every which way but Sunday, however what it comes down to is when your loved one needs an organ transplant, you are going to do whatever it takes to make sure he/she gets to the top of the list. Relying on standards set by the government and other organizations will most likely mean nothing to you, especially if your child's doctors are saying that an adult organ is the only chance your child has for surviving! This is the message Sarah's parents received, which is why they did whatever was in their power to overturn (even temporarily) this "under 12 rule."

How to Fix the Organ Transplant Shortage
http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2013/06/sarah_murnaghan_s_lung_transplant_organ_donors_should_be_compensated.html
 

June 18, 2013

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tuesday, June 18, 2013 -- Mattie died 197 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken on June 18, 2006, Father's Day! It is hard to believe that this was seven years ago today. None of us knows what the future holds and I certainly never thought we wouldn't be having more Father's Days with Mattie by our side.


Quote of the day: Moral wounds have this peculiarity - they may be hidden, but they never close; always painful, always ready to bleed when touched, they remain fresh and open in the heart. ~  Alexandre Dumas

I had several meetings at Georgetown University Hospital today. One meeting was about the adoption of a psychosocial screening tool (I don't mean a hammer or screwdriver, I am referring to a survey or questionnaire that has both reliability and validity with the childhood cancer population) in the pediatric oncology clinic. I had brought this issue (the need for such a screening) to the medical director's attention about a year and a half ago. Today we all met to discuss this possibility, a possibility that will come to fruition thanks to a grant received by the Hospital. From my standpoint, psychosocial care is as important at the medical care a child and family receives. Therefore, as soon as a child is diagnosed, from my perspective, psychosocial screenings need to be conducted. As it stands now, hospitals tend to provide services only when a psychological issue or crisis arises. By this point, especially in cancer care, too much emotional damage has already occurred. Therefore offering families psychosocial screenings early on in the process, will enable them to get the support they need during each stage of treatment. In addition, the beauty of having a screening tool is that it can help medical professionals determine which families need support and interventions right away.

We had this meeting today in the clinic's library! That may not sound earth shattering to any of you, but perhaps it will when I tell you what this room means to Peter and me. It is within this library that we first met with Mattie's care team to discuss Mattie's cancer, his treatment, and then also broke the news to Mattie that he had cancer. It is within this room that we received test results of Mattie's which indicated his cancer spread, and it is within this room that we learned that there was NOTHING else that could be done for Mattie medically. So in all reality, this is not a room with many good memories. Yet for mostly everyone else in the meeting, the room was just a room! Not sure what to say about this reality, other than it registered with me.

Another fact that registers with me is that few grant making entities want to hear the insights and feedback from parents like myself.... a parent who lost a child to cancer. Therefore, when designing a research study (a study which will be funded) in most cases the conditions of the study stipulate that the parents participating in the research must either have a child in treatment or one who is in the survivorship phase (meaning off treatment with no evidence of disease, or managing the late effects of cancer treatment). I am not sure about you, but this reality is a hard pill for me to swallow. I can't think of a better way to make bereaved parents feel more alone, isolated, and disengaged from the world. Basically such grant making entities are saying that our voices do not need to be heard, or simply they are not willing to fund a study to hear our perspective. Our perspectives do not matter or count because of the outcome. It is a humbling fact, and unfortunately I have faced this ugliness before, not just today!

The second meeting I had at the Hospital was with one of Mattie's nurses. Over a year ago, Anita, asked Mattie Miracle whether we would consider funding a monthly support group luncheon for pediatric nurses. We agreed to this in 2012, and now we are funding this luncheon for the second year in a row. Mattie's nurses are very special and competent individuals. They work extremely hard and need outlets to help them manage difficult situations, crises, and challenges. Peter and I are big nurse advocates and we believe if nurses feel supported they can perform their jobs even more effectively. Anita and I chatted about the group, its progress, and a host of other things. It was lovely to catch up with Anita, but as I reflect back on 2008-2009, many of Mattie's in-patient nurses no longer work at Georgetown.

Switching gears, I came across a story today about a seven year old boy named Miles Ambridge. Miles is in a wheelchair and has a genetic disease called spinal muscular atrophy. The title of the story is Miles Ambridge, 7-Year-Old In Wheelchair, Isolated By Photographer In Class Picture. When I saw this child's class picture, my mind and heart aches. It reminded me of Mattie and how people who passed him by would either glare or ostracize him. Needless to say, when Miles' family saw this class picture they were very upset. It features Miles truly separated from the class!!! I think there is a learning lesson to be found in this story! I do not think the photographer meant to single out Miles, and who knows what his teacher was thinking when this photo was taken. Most likely she was simply trying to manage the entire class and take the photo. But sometimes when you have a child with a special need in your presence, special accommodations do need to be made. Putting that aside, I think we all need to be aware of our surroundings, who is amongst us, and how we would wish to be treated if we were in Miles' shoes. Chances are if everyone around him had that mindset, and not just a mindset but an appreciation and sensitivity for our fellow human beings, such a photo would never have been taken in the first place.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/17/miles-ambridge-wheelchair-class-photo_n_3454857.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular

June 17, 2013

Monday, June 17, 2013

Monday, June 17, 2013

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2006. Mattie was four years old and we took him to Lake Accotink in Springfield, VA to see the famous cardboard boat regatta. Honestly someone could have described this to me, but seeing it in person is something else. People make boats out of cardboard, decorate them, and then enter them in a race. It is truly a family fun day and Mattie's hope was that one day he and Peter would enter this race and build a boat together. We took Mattie to the race in 2006, 2007, and 2008. I included a link so you can see a snippet from 2013's race.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBN0wrsFKS8


Quote of the day: Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. The consciousness of loving and being loved brings a warmth and a richness to life that nothing else can bring. ~ Oscar Wilde


The day after Father's Day somehow doesn't seem any better than Father's Day itself. Peter was in a funk, yet went to work. Which I am sure is hard, since at work he can't appear to be in a funk. This morning, we met with a young professional who is doing an internship at NIH. She is working for ten weeks with one of the psycho-oncologists Mattie Miracle is working diligently with on brainstorming a psychosocial standard of care. The interview was really to shed light on the history of how the psychosocial think tank for a standard of care was born and developed. Which naturally meant sharing part of our Mattie story, the birth of the Foundation, the mission of the Foundation, and how Peter and I had the vision to vocalize a need for such a standard. A standard that would detail the minimal level of psychological care children with cancer and their families should have access to around the Country. Care that is based on empirical research or professional insights and consensus. Right now, psychological care is haphazard. It simply depends on the cancer institution you are seeking treatment, but part of the problem is such treatment isn't well funded and also different professionals provide this treatment at different hospitals across the country. Which makes standardizing things a bit more complicated, but not impossible! Keep in mind that not every hospital has child psychiatrists, psychologists, or Child Life Specialists on staff!

In many ways when we meet with someone like this professional today who is interested in our story and hearing about our experiences, it is very therapeutic for both of us. These are not conversations we have on a regular basis with people, so when we have the opportunity to have them, they are refreshing. I am sure there are many reasons why this is therapeutic for us, but first and foremost I believe these stories allow us to be parents again. We get to talk about Mattie and share his life, spirit, and battle. After all, when we meet with our friends and hear stories about their children, we can't reciprocate with them. Our story is VERY different, our story is every parent's worst nightmare. So therefore it becomes a story that isn't discussed typically. Which is why meetings like this one today are so special.

A friend shared with me an exposé that CNN highlighted last week about cancer charities. I was intrigued so I Googled the coverage for myself so I could hear it first hand. I attached the link below, you might be absolutely amazed by this story. A story in which people are accumulating MILLIONS of dollars a year from the public and yet the majority of the money is going to pay the salaries of the those doing the soliciting. I think to myself, if we could raise $45 million, like some of these groups, there is NO telling what Mattie Miracle could accomplish. I think it is terrible and beyond unethical that people could accept contributions and prey upon the kindness, compassion, and generosity of the public. Armed with this information, I can't imagine what I would feel like if I had contributed to any one of these 50 unscrupulous charities. We live in a world where we must first verify how, where, and who is using the funds we decide to contribute to a charity. Not all 501c3s are created equal and this video clip illustrates this in spades!!!

Above the Law: America's Worst Charities
http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/13/us/worst-charities/index.html?hpt=hp_c2

June 16, 2013

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2006. Mattie was four years old and as you can see Mattie and Peter were wearing matching preschool t-shirts! I happen to like this photo a lot and in honor of Father's Day, I decided to post it. When I snapped this photo years ago, it never dawned on me that taking photos of my two boys together would be FINITE.


A POEM IN HONOR OF FATHER'S DAY................................

A DAD HURTS TOO by Judi Walker

People don’t always see the tears a dad cries,
His heart is broken too when his child dies.
He tries to hold it together and be strong,
Even though his world’s gone wrong.
He holds his wife as her tears fall,
Comforts her through it all,
He goes through his day doing what he’s supposed to do,
But a piece of his heart has been ripped away too.
So when he’s alone he lets out his pain,
And his tears come like falling rain,
His world has crashed in around him,
And a world that was once bright has gone dim.
He feels he has to be strong for others,
But Dads hurt too, not just the Mothers,
He searches for answers but none are to be found,
He hides behind a mask when he is feeling down.
He smiles through his tears,
He struggles and holds in his fears,
But what you see on the outside is not always real,
Men don’t always show how they really feel.
So I’d like to ask a favor of you,
The next time you see a mother hurting 
over the loss of her child, 
please remember…..
A Dad hurts too.


This is our fourth Father's Day without Mattie. I am sure many of our friends and family think that it must be getting easier for us from year to year and that only the first holiday without Mattie is the hardiest!!! If you believe this, then I want to dispel this MYTH right away!!! TIME DOES NOT HEAL ALL WOUNDS and YES GOD DOES GIVE PEOPLE MORE THAN THEY CAN HANDLE!!!!

My faithful reads know how much I LOVE platitudes and some days more than others, I feel the need to step on my soap box and speak out about them. Today is one of those days. I personally like Father's Day just as much as Mother's Day, and if you can't understand what I am trying to say, then simply stated, I dislike both holidays. Holidays have a way of exacerbating pain and what I find worse is that with time people around us absolutely skirt around the issues with us and just don't know what to say. Or perhaps others say nothing because things are perceived as a non-issue because of the lapse of time!!! However, everything about surviving and processing through grief is about REMEMBERING!!! Therefore, though Mattie has been gone for four Father's Days, Peter is still Mattie's dad, and as such I feel that we should acknowledge the day somehow. But how do you do that? After all it isn't like we can easily get together with friends to celebrate the day, and if you are thinking why not then I assure you the awkwardness comes from both sides of the equation! So where do parents of bereaved children fit into the world?! The answer is I DON'T know!!

My friend Jenny sent me a link to a blog the other day, which is written by a mom who also lost her son. In her writings she refers to herself as an alien (the kind from another planet!). I get that feeling wholeheartedly on a daily basis, but it is definitely more pronounced during holidays. Below you will find two things I wanted to share with you. One is a message posted by a mom who lost a son. She asked her husband how he feels about Father's Day, and I found his response very insightful and accurate from my own experience. The second item is a message from my mom to Peter. I think she did a wonderful job capturing the essence of Peter and the connection he had with Mattie.

 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Father's Day after losing a child (From 'Surviving the loss of a child in the real world' blog)

I talked to my husband this week about Father's Day and how a father feels about the holiday and life in general after losing a child. From my husband's perspective this is the information I got--

The father feels responsible for their child's death regardless if they could have prevented it or not.  As the head of the house, as the man of the house, as the protector of the family they often feel responsible for the loss of the child.  They did not protect their child from harm (or illness, etc.), somehow they should have been able to do so.  The father is the strong one in the family, made to keep his family safe and this can result in a lot of guilt or shame or pain if a death results.

The holiday is not one they really want to celebrate since the family isn't whole.  It is not that they do not love their children that are remaining but during this holiday (and most) it becomes terribly obvious that the child is gone.  It is very apparent to all of us in the family that DJ is not here to celebrate with his Dad.

What does a father want for Father's Day?  He wants to hear about his child.  Phone calls, conversations, notes, cards, memories about their child is the best gift.  To hear something wonderful about their child that is gone is the best gift of all.  Do the father's ever ask for this?  Of course not...do they wish everyone knew about this request? Absolutely!

So what are you going to give a bereaved father this weekend?  A memory, a humorous story, a laugh, a cry?  The mention of a father's child is the best gift of all!
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
A Father's Day Tribute by Virginia R. Sardi
 
Your love and commitment to Mattie when he was well gave him six beautiful years of life that made him the incredible person he became. Although only a child he had a mature comprehension of people and the judgment of the wise that in real terms made him a man, many years beyond his young age. You nurtured that understanding and set a shining example of what Fatherhood is all about in the golden period of his life.
 
When Mattie became ill, you were stalwart and constant in your support of him no matter the pressures that pounded you at every turn. He looked to you for attitude and found the signs of strength to emulate which gave him the courage to fight the devil of cancer and never give up while there was life within him. It takes a strong man to accomplish this when his heart is breaking but you never let him down. Even in the depths of despair, you kept your focus and proved that you had the right stuff to be worthy of being honored as a great father. Happy Father's Day!