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

August 31, 2013

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2008. If I had to give this photo a title, it would be "have boxes will travel!" As you can see Mattie claimed three boxes at Georgetown University Hospital, taped them together and was walking down the hallway with them. There is no telling to how Mattie transformed these boxes, but I can assure you they most likely did not look this way for long. Mattie always had a plan and an idea behind his creations.






Quote of the day: Words are like nets -- we hope they'll cover what we mean, but we know they can't possibly hold that much joy, or grief, or wonder. ~ Jodi Picoult

As it is Labor Day weekend, with three days in which we will be home, I knew a plan was in order. Without a plan, Peter and I can easily get into a funk. So earlier in the week, I asked Peter if we could use this time to paint our living room and dining room. That may sound easy, but it is a huge undertaking, especially since I have furniture and collectibles everywhere. Before we went away to Europe, we actually picked out paint colors for every room in our home. We figured one by one, we would tackle this huge task in small dosages. In all reality our upstairs needs reorganization and order first. But frankly I decided to start painting downstairs in hopes that it would motivate me to manage upstairs. Upstairs is far more difficult because of Mattie's bedroom, which I haven't really touched since he died.

In the process of covering our furniture and floors today, we came across a plastic box that we shoveled underneath our dining room break front. We knew exactly what was in this box, but we just never dealt with it. Here are what the contents inside the box looked like! Do you know what they are?! Look closely! I am sure to most of my readers this looks like metal pieces, springs, and there are even things that look like metal loops and nails. However, these are NOT scrap parts. NOT AT ALL!!!! In actuality all of these parts came out of Mattie's body when he was cremated. As many of my faithful readers know, Mattie had four primary bone tumors. Which is VERY rare. With bone cancer, each of the infected bones must be removed from the body. In their place titanium structures were surgically implanted under Mattie's skin and attached to remaining bones. In Mattie's case, Repiphysis technology was used. If you are interested in knowing what that means, go to:
http://www.wmt.com/expandableimplant/patients/learn-about-repiphysis/what-is-repiphysis.asp

I finally removed all the metal pieces today and placed them into a new plastic bag. We put this bag with Mattie's ashes, which sit in our living room in an Italian marquetry jewelry box. I suppose we could have thrown these metal parts away, but that wasn't our decision. The fact that these items were even dealt with today seemed like a huge step.

Peter and I have been at it all day. Just taking pictures off the wall, moving furniture, and covering everything took a great deal of time. We have spent the majority of the day painting the ceilings. The ceilings haven't been touched in over 15 years, so they were more than overdue. But what an exhausting project. I took a picture of the painting chaos for you to see. Needless to say, you know what we will be doing ALL weekend! My hope is it will be worth it and that it will motivate me to continue the work upstairs!

 

August 30, 2013

Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday, August 30, 2013

Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2008. By that point, Mattie had been battling cancer for a month. As I mentioned before on the blog, Mattie LOVED cardboard boxes. As you can see from this photo, we had at least two boxes in our room that evening. Mattie jumped into a box, as if it were a car or a train expecting to be self propelled throughout the room! Mind you, Mattie was connected to an IV which was attached to a huge pole. You would be amazed how Mattie maneuvered around despite being connected to all sorts of IVs! Prior to his second limb salvaging surgery, which occurred in November of 2008, nothing could keep Mattie from moving around.


Quote of the day: In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy. ~ David Steindl-Rast


I find this photo an absolute riot! While walking through Foggy Bottom, this is what I saw!!! A horse going down G Street! I can assure you this isn't a common occurrence in the city. Literally this horse and I practically had the same destination as I was following him for a few blocks. The ironic part though is I was the ONLY one around me who seemed interested or even the least bit curious as to why this horse was in Foggy Bottom. Others just went about their usual routine. Maybe I paused because I like animals, or I found it funny to see a horse on a trafficked street, or who knows! All I know is my reaction was quite different than those around me.

I wonder what the chances are that in just this one week's time, I would have a meeting with two different women, each a survivor of breast cancer. I had meetings scheduled to talk with these women about work related issues and low and behold we landed up talking about cancer and getting to know each other personally. I certainly did not set out on either occasion to talk about cancer or Mattie. However, what this points out to me is that cancer in some shape or form has touched many of our lives. We all know someone who has had a battle with cancer. Although the woman I was talking to today is an adult and she had a different type of cancer than Mattie, we had many commonalities. The commonalities are NOT necessarily in the medicine, the type of treatment, or the side effects. Guess what the commonalities are in? They are in the psychosocial impact of the disease. In this sense, the psychosocial impact unites all cancers together, enabling all of us to speak a common language.

The first commonality is diagnosis day! I haven't met a person yet who has experienced cancer who couldn't vividly share with me their (or their child's) cancer diagnosis day story. They remember the day, the time, the location, and most likely even now (years later!) this date is considered somewhat sacred to them! I am not sure I can give you a real world equivalent that everyone can relate to, but the closest thing I can think of is September 11, 2001. If you were alive on that day, you most likely can remember how you heard and saw the news of planes crashing into the Twin Towers. In a way, a cancer diagnosis is like this but about 10 times worse because it is happening directly to you in real time.  

The second commonality is the overall impact of such a life threatening disease on one's emotional stability. The mental health ramifications of cancer can lead to depression, anxiety, PTSD, abusing a substance, anger, isolation, and feeling different. These pop up for all of us in some shape or form and need to be addressed in order to function. The third commonality I have also heard is a change in priorities, in the sense that what mattered before to us, is not quite the same now. After experiencing cancer and either seeing or escaping death, the trivial things we can fill our lives up with no longer matter. There are many other commonalities that I could list, but the point is medicine treats the physical and yet is the psychosocial that remains ever present and for many of us can haunt our subsequent days moving forward. 

With the more people I talk to, the more I realize that the mission of Mattie Miracle is right on target. Someone needs to be advocating for the psychological, emotional, and social issues of this disease. It is impossible to have physical health without mental health, and the sooner we come to this realization (a realization that other countries understand and implement far better than we do) the stronger our health care will be.  

August 29, 2013

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Thursday, August 29, 2013
 
Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2008. Actually even seeing this photo makes me laugh. I can recall this evening like it were yesterday. Mattie was in one of his more humorous and playful moods. So he decided to try to get the attention of nurses or whomever would walk passed his door. He accomplished this by making rubber glove balloons and literally using them as dancing turkeys in front of his PICU room window. This window faced out into the hallway. I can assure you at first he startled people walking by because in such a serious environment they weren't expecting to see dancing turkeys. Remember Mattie had only been in the hospital for a month at that point. However, it did not take the hospital staff long to get to understand and appreciate Mattie.
 
 
Quote of the day: Having a vested interest in other souls unconditionally creates a ripple effect that produces miracles in the lives of those around us. ~ Molly Friedenfeld
 
 
I have had the opportunity to read through several resources this week as it pertains to coping with the loss of a child. Many of them have come to me in the mail and I felt compelled to glance through them at least. While paging through the articles several words caught my attention, such as "new normal" and "getting over" grief! I did not think it was possible for me to hate anything MORE than NEW NORMAL, but I found a runner up and that is "getting over" grief. Are you kidding me? Like grief is a cold or the flu and you can take two aspirin, rest, and feel better in the morning!! I sometimes wonder about where on earth this terminology comes from. It is insulting when I find that mental health professionals use these terms, but I get down right incensed when I find fellow bereaved parents using them as well! Naturally they are using them because they are all over the literature. Yet just because it is in print and perhaps footnoted doesn't make it valid!!!!
 
Soon after Mattie was diagnosed with cancer, I was introduced to the concept of "new normal." Chances are you have heard of this term. If not, just Google "new normal and cancer" and you will see ALL sorts of things pop up. In theory the concept makes sense, because once diagnosed you would love things to return to normal. Normal being what your world looked like seconds before hearing you or your child has cancer. However, after a diagnosis, you quickly surmise that this normal life of yours is gone, yet those around you try to give you hope with the notion that you can create a new normal. A new way of living, while integrating cancer into your world. Even when I heard this for the first time, my gut reaction was REALLY???!!! How about you spend a couple of hours watching Mattie suffer with this horrific cancer process and we will see what you think of new normal. I always found the term condescending and insulting. In particular, I feel it was a term created to falsely wrap a bow around a present one never asked to receive (cancer). To me new normal implies that I had some sort of control or desire for the change, which of course I didn't in 2008 during Mattie's diagnosis and I am not sure I have any more control over things now in 2013, with Mattie gone from our lives.
 
The word control is an interesting one to me too. I know that how I live and lead my Foundation life may be quite different than how I live my personal life. With Foundation work, I am forced to deal with deadlines, commitments, and interactions with others. If I did not, there would be NO Foundation. However, the things that propel me forward with the Foundation, aren't quite the same motivators in my personal life. It is a hard dichotomy to describe, and yet I know I am living it.
 
To me "getting over" grief is the same cutesy terminology as "new normal." Again it is a false bow put on a very unpleasant package. But why are people so in a hurry for us to get over our grief? Is it for us or for them? Who does our grief really bother?! As a parent who lost a child to cancer, I can turn to diversions, stay busy, get reinvested in activities and people, but the bottom line is I wont be getting over my grief. Perhaps this is a conscious decision on my part, but I know that getting over my grief implies to me a host of negative connotations, of which at the core would mean am I over Mattie? This is also one of the many games grief plays on one's mind because as time moves forward, the ability to recall memories, sounds, and smells of your child fade. The fading is just as hurtful as the grieving itself.
 
My friend Charlie sent me tonight's article which was written by a licensed counselor. Some articles have set me off this week, but this one resonated with me because at the heart of the matter it explained why "getting over" grief on someone else's time line isn't a good plan.
 
How Culture Stops Mourners from Healing
Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT in the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”
 
Our death denying culture continues to send the message to mourners that the healthiness of an individual’s grief is to be measured by how quickly and proficiently the mourner “gets over” the loss and moves into a productive life. I remember a co-worker who was supported by our employer while her husband went through months of chemotherapy to fight cancer. Once her husband died and weeks passed, she was fired because of a lack of productivity.

The wells of compassion for that mourner had gone dry when her grief continued too long. Unfortunately this example is typical of our culture and the corporate, bottom-line world. In our competitive, achievement-oriented culture, grief and mourners are seen as inefficient.

I am sorry if my views seem a little harsh and pessimistic, but too many mourners starting their life path into healthy mourning and healing have their grief short-circuited by our culture. The problem is that our society considers talk about death and grief as morbid and taboo. Living in an atmosphere where grief emotions and mourning are stifled we mourners sometimes feel forced to carry unexpressed grief and unresolved issues concerning a loss throughout our lives.

Most friends and advisors around the mourner give advice with one of two goals in mind. First, well-intentioned advisors want to comfort the mourner out of his or her grief. Everyone hates to see another person in pain. We naturally want to fix the person and make everything all right. Mourners are not broken, and they cannot be fixed or set straight by platitudes, inspirational thoughts and unsolicited advice. Often mourners are in too much pain to be able to hear the comfort in these attempts to influence their grief. Mourners want to be heard and have their stories and experiences affirmed rather than solved or judged.

Second, advisors around the mourner actively seek to shut down the grief process because they do not understand or empathize with the mourner’s need to remember, to experience grief, to adapt to a new reality and to heal. These advisors include the well-intentioned and the uninformed that simply do not know what to do with mourning people. These advisors also include those who do not want to be reminded of the harsh truths of dying, death and bereavement. The majority of our society knows that they all will die and that they all will say good-bye to loved ones in this life. They simply do not want to be reminded of those facts. The open expression of grief reminds them of death’s inevitability.

Experiencing the death of someone we love causes us mourners to review our beliefs and our personal understanding of death, dying and loss. Our loss experience can cause us to prepare for our inevitable end and for the life which still lies ahead for us. When our grief is short-circuited, we are robbed of the possibilities of navigating grief in a healthy fashion and of seeing life and death with a meaningful perspective.

August 28, 2013

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2008. Notice the cardboard box in the background! This was NOT atypical for us. Always, despite the SMALL nature of Mattie's hospital room, we had boxes piled up all over the place. These were boxes used for creativity purposes and building. In fact, even markers weren't just used to color things. As you can see here Mattie connected the markers to build!!! Mattie was about the process of building creatively and thinking outside the box. But his enthusiasm was contagious and he had a way of pushing his playmates (regardless of age!) to also think big, boldly, and with imagination.


Quote of the day: We may not have the ability to change all of the world's wrongs, but we can make a difference where we are. ~ Dillon Burroughs


I spent a good portion of today glued to the computer. I am working on one of the many literature reviews I am doing for our Foundation's national psychosocial standard of care project. I wouldn't be able to do such work if I hadn't spent many years at the George Washington University conducting research and getting a higher degree. When people ask me if I feel bad that I am not using my degree or whether I miss my field, I correct them. Because in my perspective, I am using my degree creatively and actively!

However, in order to conduct such extensive literature reviews, I need access to academic databases. These are not something one can get access to through the Internet, without being connected to an institution of higher learning. In all reality, since I no longer teach at the University, it would be more than fair for them to deny me access to their on-line system. However, my department (which I taught in for years) has enabled me to stay connected to the University by deeming me a research scholar and fellow. I frankly do not care what they call me, as long as I am able to continue the work that I am doing. Needless to say I am grateful for this vital resource, a resource that would be challenging and financially prohibitive to secure on my own!

Switching gears, last week, I came across a resource on-line for parents who lost an only child. The name of the organization is called Alive Alone. Losing a child is a nightmare, but I have found losing an only child is beyond devastating. As Alive Alone states, "the death of an only child compounds bereavement. You experience similar problems and pain as bereaved parents with surviving children. However being childless deepens the heartache as you confront the future. You no longer have someone in whom you can invest your love, time, energy and resources. Knowing that you might never again be a parent or have grandchildren makes you different than other bereaved parents. You are no longer an active parent and that is what makes being childless so unique. Generally speaking, it seems to take a longer period of time for those bereaved parents with no surviving children to reinvest in life than those who have surviving children."

I have learned since Mattie's death to take in information that is helpful to me, process it, and also sift out advice and other things which I deem as not helpful. I have to admit it has taken me years to figure this out, and at times I can still get my feelings hurt. Alive Alone sent me a booklet and within it, it discusses different outlets of support. One of which is through journaling, another is through attending a support group, or identifying with someone else who understands the complexities of grief and has experienced it personally. In fact, many books, including this booklet say that it is important to read books on grief and loss and to attend a support group. Neither of these options worked well for me. Perhaps in time, I will be open to them, but I haven't related to one book on loss yet and frankly attending groups can be a hit or miss given the dynamics and camaraderie within the group. I remember going to my first and last group session in 2009, in which parents were literally competing for floor time and practically insinuating that their circumstances were worse than the next family's story. TOTALLY NOT helpful, and all that proceeded to do for me was build up my anger and hostility over the whole situation!

Coping with the loss of a child is a unique experience for each parent. What works for one person may not necessarily work for another, so when guidebooks are prescriptive, a red flag goes off in my head. The things that I have found so far helpful through my grief journey are: walking (and exercise), talking about Mattie and my feelings, creating something (and some of my faithful readers will most likely remember all the items I designed early on after Mattie's death -- jewelry, flowers, costumes, etc....), and connecting with other people and being needed. So far these things haven't changed, they have remained consistent, and I consider myself fortunate to have figured even this much out so far.  

August 27, 2013

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tuesday, August 27, 2013 -- Mattie died 206 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2008. This had to be one of Mattie's favorite activities, other than building with Legos. Mattie loved creating structures out of cardboard boxes! In fact, Mattie's support team at the Hospital quickly caught onto Mattie's passion with boxes, that they began to collect all sorts of shipping boxes that came into Georgetown Hospital for him! I mean boxes of ALL shapes and sizes. Mattie LOVED every box. You would have been impressed to see how he could transform a box. On this particular occasion, Mattie wanted to create a box to hide in, something cozy and protected! As you can see, he was successful!


Quote of the day: The two most powerful warriors are patience and time. Leo Tolstoy


This morning Peter left out an article for me to read. The title of the article in The Wall Street Journal was "Still Hung Up on Your Past? A Therapy says 'Let it Go." I have to say the title was intriguing especially since I immediately (before even reading the article!!!) came to the conclusion that it would be impossible for me to give UP my past! Therapy or NO therapy! Mainly because my past centers around Mattie, and giving up my past would mean that I perhaps never had a child. Or is that what the article meant? Not quite!

This afternoon, I came home and read the article in more detail and then went on line to see the actual survey (or assessment tool) used by this researcher/psychologist at Stanford University. Dr. Zimbardo feels that redirecting the focus onto the present and future can make people happier, healthier, and lead to better relationships. He calls this method the Time Perspective Therapy. To find out which perspective you lean toward, Dr. Zimbardo designed a 61 multiple choice question survey to help you figured this out. He feels once you know where you stand on the time perspective continuum, it is easier to figure out what specific things you need to focus on, adjust, and work on to achieve greater happiness. Sounds good in theory. The article even claims that this method has helped people with depression and PTSD, when all else has failed.

Zimbardo has classified six different types of time perspective outlooks: 1) the past positive (you love the past), 2) past negative (you have regrets and bad things happened in your past), 3) present hedonism (you enjoy the present and like to reward yourself), 4) present fatalism (you feel that events are beyond your control so why bother?), 5) goal oriented future (you plan ahead and weigh the costs and benefits of any decision), and 6) transcendental future (you live a good life because you believe the reward is a heaven after death).

According to Zimbardo, the best profile to have is a high level of past-positive, a moderately high level of future orientation, and a moderate level of selected present hedonism (in other words, you like your past, work for the future, but not so hard that you become a workaholic, and choose when to seek pleasure in the present). The worst time perspective profile to have is a high level of past negative coupled with a high level of present fatalism (such a person he claims  lives in a negative past and thinks nothing can change it).

Zimbardo believes that time perspectives are influenced by many things, including family and friends, culture, religion, education and life events. If you would like to learn more about Zimbardo's work and to also take his survey, I attached the links below!

The funny part about all of this is I went into this survey rather skeptical! I honestly did not think it was possible for Mattie's death not to influence every question I answered. But to my surprise, I learned that I have a very high past positive score. I suppose that is NO shock, since my past did include Mattie and I also had a very high future orientation. These two factors enable me to fall into Zimbardo's BEST profile to have, but hang in there, I also had a relatively high past negative score (after all what's not to regret about seeing your child get cancer and then die?!) and a high present fatalism score (again, I saw a major event occur which was out of MY CONTROL!), which would deem me has having the worst time perspective profile. So in just one survey I have been able to achieve both a BEST and WORST rating!!! That alone fascinates me.

The one thing I did get out of this survey was that I scored quite low on present hedonism! This may not come as any surprise to those people who truly know me. This particular outlook pertains to how willing one is to reward one's self. In essence how well one takes care of one's self and looks out for one's own interests. I found immediately after I lost Mattie that I didn't feel interested in feeding my own desires and needs. At first I think it was a matter of the fact that I did not think I deserved those things. For example, it took me months after Mattie's death to buy anything for myself (item of clothing, etc). I felt like I did not need or deserve them. Now however, I think the non-rewarding of myself is just more complicated than the simple feeling of not deserving something. I do think losing Mattie has prevented me from experiencing joy, allowing myself that feeling produces guilt and sadness, and therefore caring for others and making their needs supersede mine is the dynamic that has been playing out. Yet this survey helped me to see that this really isn't the best dynamic to set up for myself and in the long run will not help me feel any happier (again, another word I'm not wild about).

At first I thought Zimbardo was going to score my time perspectives and compare them to other people. But the way the score report reads, he does indicate an ideal, but what is more helpful is that you can plot your score against the ideal. It is from this plot that I can potentially be introspective and try to focus on avenues for self-improvement. Do I think this scale is the be all and end all, of course not, but it does give one food for thought. I love self-introspection exercises anyway, so this was of interest to me, as I hope it will be for you.


Information about the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory ( ZTPI):

61 question survey: http://www.thetimeparadox.com/zimbardo-time-perspective-inventory/
 
 
 
 
 

August 26, 2013

Monday, August 26, 2013

Monday, August 26, 2013

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2007. That weekend we took Mattie for a walk on Roosevelt Island. The Island was literally Mattie's second backyard. All sorts of exploration is possible on Roosevelt Island along with having access to all the sights and sounds of mother nature. There is a part on the Island which is nicknamed, "the beach." Mattie was standing on the beach in this photo, with Georgetown University (where the hospital is located) in the background. We journeyed out to the beach often. At the beach location, there was sand to walk on and the water by the sand was very shallow. Dogs also loved frolicking on the beach and Mattie enjoyed watching dogs playing fetch with their owners. Also notice the green thing in Mattie's hands. Right by the "beach" there is a crinkly hedge apple tree, and Mattie loved collecting their fruit! 


Quote of the day: In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks. ~ John Muir



While we were away I received an email from the wonderful company that manufactures our t-shirts for each Foundation Walk. Steve wanted me to know that the national association of which he is a part of is asking for stories from clients that highlight how fundraising and using t-shirt products help to raise money for a worthy cause. I was finally able to sit down today and concentrate on writing such an article. Actually this article was an excellent exercise for me. Because the foundation celebrated its fourth annual Walk this May. It amazes me but in four years time we have raised over $100,000 for childhood cancer. Money which directly goes to helping children and their families. In addition to writing the article, I also put this t-shirt composition together which highlights the t-shirts and themes of each of our Walks for the last three years.

This afternoon, Peter came home from work and we went for a walk on Roosevelt Island together. We haven't visited the Island in months. During the summer months, the Island can get packed with visitors and we really do not like experiencing the Island this way. As we were walking over the bridge today, there were paddle boarders everywhere. These folks fascinate me because this looks so peaceful to do, but probably not unlike kayaking, this too is hard work!

To me this looks like a post card. This is the serenity of Roosevelt Island!













This is today's view of "the beach." The same location in which I snapped a photo of Mattie in 2007.












I honestly wouldn't have guessed what on earth this was, but Peter immediately told me it was a beehive. Something I can appreciate from afar!










I am sure most people do not take photos of tent moth cocoons. But I guess I do! Mattie LOVED, I mean LOVED tent moths. When it was tent moth season in the spring, he would collect these caterpillars in Alexandria, VA (in a cup!)and bring them home with him. Living in DC, we never saw these caterpillars near us. In fact, when Mattie brought these creepy things home, I had to figure out how to contain them and we also had to figure out what they liked to eat! I had a lot to learn that first year! Quickly we learned that these caterpillars HATE maple trees, they only eat oak. We do not have many oak trees around us, but Mattie and I learned where the closest oak to our home was and we would stock up on leaves for his caterpillars to munch over time! Each spring we had metamorphosis occurring right in our living room. Mattie loved the excitement of watching these caterpillars create their own cocoons and then within five days break out of them as moths! I can't tell you how many moth releasing ceremonies we had on our deck!!!

As Peter said, "today must have been butterfly day at Roosevelt Island." I can't tell you how many flew into us and around us!!! Maybe 15 or more at various times. It was like getting our own personal Mattie greeting, and I am sure Mattie has been wondering why on earth we haven't visited the Island sooner! What a welcome back we got!



This is a typical photo Peter takes when visiting Roosevelt Island. He likes to capture how the seasons transform this particular view. So in Peter's honor I snapped this photo today. It is wonderful to see the Island so green and lush, and I only wish we had this weather year round in DC. The sun and heat motivates me, it doesn't take our grief away, but it adds a certain dimension into our world. I can feel the difference within me when the sun is out!
 

 

August 25, 2013

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2006. That day we took Mattie for a walk along the Potomac River, near the Billy Goat trail. Mattie loved an adventure, to be out and among nature, and moving around. Mattie always had an inordinate amount of physical and mental energy and we learned early on that walks and outdoor time were a must! If you look closely at Mattie's t-shirt, you will see a blue train, naturally that was Thomas the Tank Engine. Mattie loved all things Thomas and therefore, I became very adept at trains. Playing with Mattie, educating Mattie, and being there for him was our number one priority. Fortunately it was because we did not get a second chance to get it right.


Quote of the day: Always show kindness and love to others. Your words might be filling the empty places in someone's heart. ~  Mandy Hale


Before we left for our trip to Europe, our faithful readers may recall that Peter flew up to Boston to clean out our Ford Explorer. The Explorer was involved in a minor fend bender, going at less than 10MPH. The scary part about all of this, is the car was deemed totaled. I am still trying to grasp my head around this. Any case, Peter went to Boston in July to clean out our family car. This car held many memories for us and Mattie had squirreled a lot of things in the car. Which is why it was important that one of us cleaned the car out personally.

For weeks now the items from Peter's Explorer have been sitting in bags in our living and dining rooms. Today, Peter is working on clearing them out and consolidating things. You wouldn't believe what is coming out of these bags. A collection of FLASHLIGHTS, of all sizes! I had no idea such a collection existed!!! Guess who liked to collect flashlights?! Yes that would have been Mattie!

The collections Mattie had in the car were noteworthy, not just flashlights, but rubber lizards, rocks of all shapes and sizes, pennies (Mattie always kept his eye out for pennies after being introduced to the concept of the "Penny Fairy" from my parents), sticks (in fact, there was one stick that was at least two feet long -- it now sits on Mattie's wrought iron remembrance stand in our living room), Mattie's sword from the Barnum and Bailey Circus (I guess Mattie never knew when a sword would be needed when driving!!!), and I am sure as Peter goes through more bags, more will be revealed.

The car also held memories of our time in Georgetown University Hospital. Within the bags we found parking stickers for the Hospital, a parking pass during the time Mattie was undergoing treatment, and of course when I think about the Explorer I remember entering the Hospital being a threesome and then on September 8, 2009, we returned to the car with only two of us driving home. It was a feeling I shall never ever forgot, nor will Peter. The Explorer saw so many transitions, adjustments, and tragedies in our life. Saying good-bye to it is like acknowledging another part of our life disappearing or having been taken away. I have learned THINGS, for the most part, are not important anymore in the grand scheme of life. Though some things I deem crucial. These are things that hold meaning, memories, and capture the essence of our time together as a family.... the Explorer was one of those things.