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

January 18, 2014

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in January of 2005. Mattie attended a birthday party with his cousins, who lived in the Washington, DC area back then. As you can see the children were eating a cupcake. Seeing Mattie's plate doesn't surprise me in the least. Mattie just did not like sweets! In fact, he usually landed up giving me his cakes and treats. In that sense Mattie and I were the exact opposite. Also of note in the photo was Mattie's sippy cup! A sippy cup came with us at all times, EVERYWHERE. Mattie did not like water and he also didn't like juice. His drink of choice was always MILK. Rather ironic that of all the cancers Mattie could get, he got bone cancer. Our joke prior to Mattie's cancer diagnosis was that Mattie most likely had the strongest bones from all the milk he consumed. 


Quote of the day: Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart.  Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. ~ Carl Jung


Peter and I started the day with a plan. A plan on the weekend is always a good thing for us. Believe it or not, four years into Mattie's death, and the weekends are still very challenging for us. Mainly because weekends symbolize family time and how we used to spend our Saturdays and Sundays no longer exists. Our world changed, we lost our son, but the reality is the world in which our friends live has remained the same. They still have sport activities, school events, and other social gatherings. These things occur without us, which I must admit is earth shattering to a bereaved parent. For us our world ended when we lost our child and at times it is hard to grasp that others are still standing, breathing and going about their every day business. Almost as if we are living in an alternative universe where nothing makes much sense anymore.

I have to say that starting to clean out Mattie's room was very difficult for me to do this Fall. I really took on this challenge by myself and it was no small physical or emotional task. Yet by having the courage to address Mattie's space, I was able to reclaim it so that I can showcase Mattie's art work and his spirit in a more meaningful way. However, it has been like a domino effect. Once I tackled Mattie's room, I think it inspired Peter and I to address other areas throughout our home. Today we went running around together looking for two new chairs for our living room. We purchased one today and dragged it home together. Slowly we are trying to change the look of our surroundings so that we can feel comfortable once again in our own home. It has taken quite a bit of time to reach this stage.

This evening we joined our friend at a DC tradition, called the Capitol Steps. Peter and I saw this show a decade ago. But the beauty of this show is it changes from year to year because it is basically political satire set to music. It makes fun of both political parties, and it does it in a light, humorous, and witty manner. Needless to say if this show doesn't make you laugh, nothing will. For those of you not familiar with this show, here is some history on the Capitol Steps group:

The Capitol Steps began as a group of Senate staffers who set out to satirize the very people and places that employed them. The group was born in December, 1981 when some staffers for Senator Charles Percy were planning entertainment for a Christmas party. Their first idea was to stage a nativity play, but in the whole Congress they couldn't find three wise men or a virgin. So, they decided to dig into the headlines of the day, and they created song parodies & skits which conveyed a special brand of satirical humor. In the years that followed, many of the Steps ignored the conventional wisdom ("Don't quit your day job!"), and although not all of the current members of the Steps are former Capitol Hill staffers, taken together the performers have worked in a total of eighteen Congressional offices and represent 62 years of collective House and Senate staff experience. Since they began, the Capitol Steps have recorded over 30 albums, including their latest, Fiscal Shades of Gray. They've been featured on NBC, CBS, ABC, and PBS, and can be heard 4 times a year on National Public Radio stations nationwide during their Politics Takes a Holiday radio specials.

I think laughter is very good medicine. Literally! Peter and I haven't laughed this hard in years, nor felt free enough to allow ourselves to laugh. Tonight was an excellent diversion that did not remind us of cancer or our loss. Sometimes when reflecting upon the loss of Mattie, we feel paralyzed and guilty. Unable to enjoy anything around us. As Peter said, today I was not in a fog or cloud. Which I typical am in.

When we arrived home from the show, we were greeted outside by our upstairs neighbors. They were having a "SIDEWALK ASTRONOMERS" party in memory of John Dobson. I learned today that Dobson died on January 15, 2014 in Burbank, CA (where my parents live). In the 1960s, Dobson co-founded the San Francisco Sidewalk Astronomers, an amateur astronomy organization that aimed to popularize astronomy among people on the street, along with Bruce Sams and Jeffery Roloff. Sams had built a large telescope but because he was only 12 at the time he was not eligible for membership in the only local club, the San Francisco Amateur Astronomers, thus the "San Francisco Sidewalk Astronomers" was born. It was also at this time that Dobson's simple form of telescope, which came to be known as the Dobsonian, became well known after he started teaching classes to the public on how to make your own telescope.

Needless to say, I had the opportunity to look at stars and even the MOON tonight through a high powered telescope. I have never seen Mattie Moon so close up. I could see the craters on the moon and naturally I had to wonder whether Mattie was looking back at us. I can see Mattie Moon outside the window, but the view through the telescope was truly remarkable and made me feel slightly closer to Mattie tonight. 

January 17, 2014

Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday, January 17, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in January of 2004.
This was SO Mattie! He was doing one of his favorite things.... building and creating with boxes! At an early age Mattie understood the art of using tape and even a glue gun. In fact, it was Mattie who taught me, since I never used a glue gun in my life. The irony is learning from Mattie, I can now create just about anything with a glue gun. Needless to say whenever I use a glue gun, I think of Mattie. 


Quote of the day: We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers. ~ Carl Sagan


When my alarm went off this morning, I was completely disoriented. Do not ask me the content of my dream or what I was even doing in it. All I can remember was that Mattie was in it. It actually seemed so real that when I woke up, I thought perhaps Mattie was really with me. I guess on some level he was/is! Soon after Mattie died, the incredible loss and longing for him was very intense. Not that I don't wish to see and experience Mattie now, I do, but the mind gets used to this physical loss. It is that part of losing a child that becomes ingrained in you over the years. I know Mattie died, he isn't coming back, and therefore, I won't be hearing his voice and footsteps (that too is part of the whole nasty loss picture). It takes time to get to that place, and through that journey there are unpleasant feelings and thoughts along the way. Yet having a dream like the one I awoke to today, in a way brings me back to my earlier days of grieving. Which is why I am quite sure that grief isn't predictable and most definitely not logical. There are days I feel as if I have mastery over my grief and then there are days when I feel like I am back to square one trying to determine how I am going to make it through the day, another week, or another year?!


This week I have been working on the Foundation's Combined Federal Campaign application (which is now off my plate and has been submitted!), planning for our February 13th think tank meeting in Tampa, FL, and beginning intense plans for our annual Foundation Walk on May 18th. But in the midst of that I will be teaching at the George Washington University in a week, trying to plan a keynote speech and I have also been invited to write a book chapter on psychosocial issues associated with childhood cancer. The chapter will include the importance of advocacy work and how parents play a vital role in treatment and beyond. This book is being edited by Mattie's surgeon and the focus of the book is sarcomas. Any one of these tasks I mentioned could keep me busy, but in totality, I am beginning to feel like I need a staff. I certainly know there would be no way I could accomplish what I am doing if I was working outside of the Foundation. When I reflect back on my role as President, from 2009 to now, I realize that it has been a steep educational curve and an adjustment process to transition from Mattie's mom to Mattie Miracle's president. These roles are NOT one in of the same, but for me back in 2009, I saw NO distinction.  



I snapped this photo tonight because I wanted to share my latest glue gun creation. I transformed some white picture frames by adding sunflowers and glass pebbles to them. When Mattie was battling cancer, friends would visit (when I was home) and drop off sunflowers for me. I find the sunflower such a happy and strong flower. So I wanted to incorporate that memory into Mattie's room. I will never forget my sunflower gifts or the sentiments behind them. Also today while I was at the Hallmark store, I found this cute wooden frame saying..... love you to the moon and back! That saying immediately caught my attention because that is exactly what I always said to Mattie!!! 

January 16, 2014

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in January of 2004. Mattie was my side kick at all times. If I went into the kitchen, there he would be! It is ironic that when you are a parent of an active (VERY active!!!) toddler, there are times that you wish for just two minutes of alone time. Time to catch your breath and sit still. As our children age, we quickly realize that these precious toddler and preschool years go by way too fast. Of course experiencing Mattie's death has only furthered my feelings that I made the right decision to be a full time mom so that I could spend my days with Mattie and not miss out on his short life and development. 


Quote of the day: The tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives. ~ Albert Einstein


My dad had to have day surgery procedure today. Since my parents live in Los Angeles, it does make it a bit harder to help and be supportive from a distance. Yet thanks to modern technology, my mom and I were in constant communication. But even day surgery lands up being just that..... A FULL DAY! Naturally before any surgery, and keep in mind the best surgery to have is NO SURGERY, one always feels anxious and scared. In our family, just entering a hospital can be traumatic. Which of course is the result of Mattie's cancer battle and death. 

At one point today, my mom informed me that my dad finally made it into the recovery room. As I learned all too well from Mattie's three massive surgeries (some of which were over 8 hours long), the recovery process is almost worse than the surgery itself. But just the mention of "recovery" actually makes me very uneasy. It did because in my mind I can still picture Mattie in the recovery unit. 

After Mattie's three surgeries, he was always taken to the PACU (Post-Anesthesia Care Unit). In my perspective the PACU is like a war zone and it requires a special team of nurses and physicians to work in this space. Mainly because people are waking up from anesthesia and a whole host of reactions can happen from that, both physically and psychologically. In addition to coming off of anesthesia, pain also set in. 

Typically when Peter and I were called inside the PACU (which means going through a closed set of doors), I could hear Mattie screaming and crying all the way down the hallway. It is blood curdling and even worse to observe. Mattie was frightened, immobilized, and in tremendous pain. To top it off, you are surrounded by other patients. All around you! It is like one big room with a ton of hospital beds. So in essence you are experiencing the pain, but magnified. Magnified by every patient within the room! Seeing Mattie after limb salvaging surgery was overwhelming. Mattie was bandaged up, with drainage tubes everywhere, he was disoriented, agitated, crying, hooked up to several monitors, and the worst in pain. We not only had one of these experiences, we had THREE! So unfortunately when I hear recovery, I am taken back to 2008 and 2009 in the PACU of Georgetown University Hospital. I imagine some people think that over time these memories fade and they become easier. Unfortunately they don't! 

Mind you parents are not always allowed in the PACU early on in the recovery process. But because we were so concerned, the wonderful staff within the PICU called down to the PACU and made our visiting possible. Certainly it was daunting for us to be there, but Mattie really needed us and frankly I think the staff was happy to have parents there to manage Mattie's fears and emotions.  

Thankfully tonight as I write this my dad is on his way home and hopefully he will have a good night. I am just conditioned to think that surgery brings about pain, fear, and chaos. But I need to remind myself that not every surgery is like Mattie's, THANKFULLY!

January 15, 2014

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in January of 2004. Wrapped around Mattie was his favorite blanket. Mattie received many blankets as gifts, but the fleecy texture of this one caught his attention. It is ironic when I look at this photo how different our living room is now! Back then it had all the signs of a child living in our home, filled with toys, books, puzzles, and all the other gear that comes with having an active and healthy child. However, our living room also saw the other extreme because in 2008, it housed a hospital bed, IV poles, a commode, pain pumps, and a great deal of other hospital supplies. All the signs that we lost our healthy and active child. Now of course, there are remembrances of Mattie all over the living room, but it will never be like the photo captured here. 


Quote of the day: If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. ~ John Quincy Adams


Today I had the opportunity to visit my friend who hasn't been feeling well. While at her home, I got the chance to chat with her daughter and also spend some time with my friend's grandchildren. Both of whom are adorable. One of the children has to be around six months old and he is crawling up a storm. At one point his mom had to go assist my friend and therefore I got to interact with the children. Something I haven't done since probably Mattie was alive. Any case, as all young ones do, the six month old started crying when his mom left the room. So naturally I picked him up and tried to comfort him. But I knew that wouldn't be enough. Mattie taught me well. When Mattie began to cry at that age the number one way I could calm him down was by distraction. I would pick Mattie up and if at home we would walk over to a window and examine cars, trucks, and planes going by. This always grabbed Mattie's attention from day one! He simply had a fascination with locomotion and how things worked. It is funny, I did not expect to have this memory today while visiting my friend, but certain activities and circumstances can trigger such thoughts and memories of Mattie. This was an unexpected moment and life for a bereaved mom is filled with a whole bunch of them!

Today I had the opportunity to connect with the organization which invited Peter and I to be a keynote speaker at their May conference in Ohio. We are going to schedule a conference call to discuss the specifics, but for my interested readers, the organization's acronym is APHOES (http://www.aphoes.wildapricot.org/), which stands for The Association of Pediatric Hematology Oncology Educational Specialists. They would like us to speak for an hour and they are very much interested in how on earth we pulled together a multi-disciplinary team of mental health professionals to draft a psychosocial standard of childhood cancer care. I am motivated and passionate about the Foundation's mission and goals, and of course keeping Mattie's memory alive. I learned early on in the childhood cancer arena that I would have to stick to my convictions and follow my own heart. A part of me was stunned to see the competition and turfdom issues in the childhood cancer group and association space. I must admit of course that this is life and human nature, but I do not see a place for such behavior when discussing childhood cancer. So at one time I was active with different groups and then after countless negative experiences, I realize this wasn't helping me as a person. I was already grieving and feeling badly, I did not need to feel that I also couldn't make a difference. 

When I received an email today from a leader in the field, who I don't know and who is praising Mattie Miracle's work, it makes me stop and pause. Not that I am sending up balloons and confetti, not at all, but it signals to me that on some level we are making a difference and we are uniting people together toward a common mission..... a psychological standard of care. In many ways, Peter and I had the DREAM to have such a standard of care, and we used the platform of the Foundation to INSPIRE mental health professionals (who are naturally committed to their own field and children with cancer). So I guess from John Quincy Adams' perspective.... we are leaders! At the end of the day of course my question is always..... would this make Mattie proud and is he happy with what we are doing? This is our ultimate compass!   

January 14, 2014

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tuesday, January 14, 2013 -- Mattie died 226 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in January of 2004. Mattie was almost two years old. I snapped this photo because Mattie's behavior intrigued me. Mattie was the ultimate multitasker and never watched TV by sitting on the couch or sitting still for that matter. I limited Mattie's TV viewing to certain DVDs and what I would call either educational or wholesome shows. Only certain things grabbed Mattie's attention such as Baby Einstein videos and Elmo on Sesame Street. Everything else Mattie was pretty oblivious to. Meaning that he would be processing what he was hearing, but his hands and body were busy building and designing something in the background. Why this photo is so unique to me is because it illustrated that something on the TV screen captured Mattie's attention so much so that he stopped what he was doing to walk up to the screen and to check it out in more detail. 

Quote of the day: When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. ~ Viktor Frankl

Frankl maybe by far one of my all time favorite psychotherapists. I admire what he had to overcome, as a survivor of the Holocaust, and how he used his experiences to pioneer his own form of therapy. Techniques which are still used today. When I read Frankl's words, I find great meaning in them, so much so that I think any one of us can apply his quote to our own situation. We all are faced with things in life in which we find we have absolutely no control. 

As human beings feeling out of control, unable to navigate one's life and destiny, is beyond problematic. It seems like we all navigate by this unspoken golden rule which is if we do all the right things and work hard, only good results will be the outcome. Unfortunately through Mattie's diagnosis and most definitely his death, I have experienced the reality, a reality which still remains quite daunting in my mind. The reality is that osteosarcoma was out of my control, modern medicine isn't so modern, and our society does not always understand and appreciate the grief of a parent for the death of a child. These are all facts, facts that I can not necessarily change. Which is why Frankl is correct to some extent that surviving means adapting and changing from within.  

But change, as we all know, is difficult. Today I was invited to a birthday luncheon for a friend. When I looked at those in the email who were included at the luncheon, I realized I would be the ODD one out. Because all the women on the invitation list were part of a mom's group. Certainly women can talk about other things than their children, but an intact mom's group naturally talks about this subject matter. At one time I most likely would have gone to this luncheon, but I have learned over time that such venues don't always work well for me, and I also make some moms nervous. After all, they don't know what they can discuss around me. So the question is how does a person like myself who lost an only child integrate back into society? A society in which most of her friends have children. That was the one commonality I shared with several of my friends. Now what? I can't change my situation and I can't change how people will behave around me. So the only answer is to change myself. Which means either I can go to the luncheon and have different expectations and prepare myself, or not go at all. 

Tonight while I was working at my desk in Mattie's room, I looked out the window. It is a wonderful thing to have a bird's eye view! Any case, this is the sight I saw, a regal and full Mattie Moon! As today marks yet another Tuesday, the day Mattie died, I stare and wonder what message is being sent down to me from Mattie Moon.  

January 13, 2014

Monday, January 13, 2014

Monday, January 13, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in January of 2004. If I entitled this photo, it would be "a boy on a mission!" As you can see Mattie LOVED cardboard boxes. His affection for boxes happened early in his life, before preschool, kindergarten, or his time in the hospital. In many ways we would always joke about the fact that we could buy the greatest toy for Mattie, but at the end of the day, he gravitated to a new box. Boxes that Mattie rejected, were immediately claimed by Patches, our calico cat. Mattie didn't just play with the boxes, he transformed them into things, and then incorporated them into his play scheme. 


Quote of the day: Doing nothing for others is the undoing of ourselves. ~ Horace Mann

I had planned to meet my friend Tina today for lunch. However, last night I tried to text message her to find out today's plan. I am still getting used to having an iphone and instead of texting Tina, I landed up calling her by accident. Tina immediately picked up the phone and thought there was a crisis. Those closest to me, know I have been conditioned to NOT talk on the phone. Therefore if I am calling, I typically have a problem. Last night the only problem I had was pilot error. Yet here is what I discovered, by hearing Tina's voice, I could immediately determine that she wasn't feeling well. I am not sure she would have told me this through a text message. Any case, I was happy that I found this out and could instead help Tina today put away many of her beautiful Christmas things. 

You can learn a lot about a friend through his/her possessions. Tina, like me, is a sentimentalist and collects ornaments from all her travels or family adventures. So in essence her tree is not only a sight to see, but it is like a piece of family history. The other wonderful part about this is she has instilled this gift to capture family memories within her children. The next generation loves this family tradition, and I know this since I had the opportunity to chat with one of her daughter's after school. Any case, yes we may have been putting ornaments away, but it is through each ornament I got to hear more about my friend and her interests. It wasn't just a task, but through our working together our friendship grows.

In many ways, Tina is my first new friend that I developed after Mattie's death. Last year, Tina allowed me to use her house to host a surprise birthday luncheon for our mutual friend. Tina and I worked for days on setting up this party and after working a solid week together, we got to know each other's working styles quite well. The party was a success last year and we still talk about our great accomplishment together. 

I can't think of a better way to get re-engaged back into the world than by helping others. It is life's greatest and most meaningful diversion. Of course not everyone is comfortable asking for help or expressing that need, but one should always keep in mind that by accepting help, you are in essence helping the giver as well. 

January 12, 2014

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in January of 2003. This was by far Mattie's favorite mode of transportation. Being on Peter's back! I suspect a lot of it had to do with the fact that this gave Mattie a bird's eye view and his feet could dangle and be free. Seeing this photo always reminds me of how we used to spend our weekends. Despite the weather, we always took Mattie outside. Mattie responded to fresh air and was intrigued by nature. The irony is before I had Mattie, none of these things truly interested me. But with Mattie, I developed a love for nature and the beauty and freedom that only being outdoors can give you. 


Quote of the day: Start by doing the necessary, then the possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible. ~ Francis of Assisi


Last night I learned that I apparently can text message as much and as effectively as a 17 year old! Peter was watching a Patriots game on TV, and in the process was text messaging back and forth with our nephew, Nat, in Boston. Peter told Nat that I finally got an iphone and with that Nat sent me a message. If I had any doubt that I couldn't figure out touch screen technology, my conversation with Nat last night convinced me that all my fears were unfounded. Literally we typed back and forth with each other for almost two hours. The messages were flying and as such I told Peter that I finally met my match. There was someone else out there who enjoyed chatting by text messaging just as much as me. Needless to say this was a good way to start my first day with the iphone and of course it was lovely to hear, "I love you Aunt Vicki!"

A while ago my dad sent me the above quote by St. Francis. As I reflect upon it tonight, St. Francis was in essence in my opinion talking about grief. Goodness knows we have been inundated in the world of bereavement by Kubler-Ross' stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance). I do think Kubler-Ross greatly contributed to the field but unfortunately her stages have been taken out of context over the years because she never designed them to help people suffering from a death. Nonetheless, pop culture has applied her work to all of us grieving and literally our society expects us to follow a very linear pathway to healing. If it only worked that way!!! The beauty of St. Francis' quote however it is aptly and succinctly illustrates the pathway of grief. A pathway I suspect applies to many who have lost a child as well as anyone who has lost an important person in their lives. 

St. Francis' keywords are: necessary, possible, and the impossible. To me this is brilliant simplicity. In the beginning phases of intense grief even accomplishing the NECESSARY is a feat. The necessary in my book is getting up, showering, eating, and managing one's most basic tasks of living. Over time, as the necessary becomes ingrained in our lives again, we find that we are more open to other POSSIBilities. Possibilities may come in different shapes and sizes depending on who we are and our circumstances. For me my possibilities came in the form of attending a zumba class, meeting new friends, becoming invested in other activities, and helping others. At first my helping involved assisting my friend's parents who were ill, but what I found was through helping this enabled me to re-engage with the world. That I was needed for some other purpose, a purpose that I hadn't thought about before. 

As I became invested in the possible, eventually it helped me do the IMPOSSIBLE. Which from my perspective is to advocate for children with cancer and their families. Not only advocate but to try to tangibly make a difference in their cancer journey. There is one caveat here too, because to me NO ONE truly ever graduates from the NECESSARY to the POSSIBLE, and then to the IMPOSSIBLE. Rather, I would say that we can revisit any of these points in time, again and again. Why? Because many things can trigger feelings, emotions, hurt, sadness, and memories of our loved one. Sometimes we are prepared and can manage and other times we are unable to do so, and we feel set backs. Set backs which again make us feel that we can only do the NECESSARY! Living with grief means accepting that life has and will always have many set backs along the way. 

Today we met our friends in cancer for lunch. Our friends lost their son in June of 2013. For them their loss is very raw and very fresh. I can remember these days all too well, days in which I wondered how we remained alive at all. Some days I felt like I was on autopilot. I think in the beginning of the grief process we all go through the quandary of whether we are grieving in the right way! At times it is hard to even decide if we are or aren't because we receive a lot of outside input, advice, and at times judgment from others. I lost track of the number of people who told me I needed counseling, I needed help, and the 1000 and one questions about moving on without Mattie. At times I took all of this to heart. Fortunately early on, I was able to consult with Mattie's social worker, Denise. I will never forget what Denise said to me. Basically Denise asked me why I thought I needed counseling...... for myself or because others told me this is what I should do. Denise was 100% correct! She understood that no matter how others wanted to understand and help me, they couldn't possibly get what I was dealing with and therefore shouldn't judge. It was that one simple sentence that Denise shared with me that empowered me. 

Part of the battle with dealing with grief is to be able to battle your own internal dialogue and fears. Once I acknowledged them and accepted them, then honestly it became easier for me to know that my grief work must be self-directed. That no one has control over my feelings and how I should think or feel about Mattie's loss. I am not directed by my friends and what they feel I should do or act like, I am not directed by others grieving their own losses, and in a way this is all so freeing. It means that I am free to grieve like Vicki, how ever that looks, and I assure you it looks different at different times of the year. 


This afternoon, Peter and I went to AC Moore and we bought things we needed there to complete several projects at home. We hung up all the photo canvases I made of Mattie on the wall in his bedroom. I call this our "Mattie wall," and to me it adds a whole new dimension to the room. Then we spent some time outside on our deck cleaning up. There were piles of leaves, other debris, and all the horrible stuff our complex put down on the pavement when it snowed a few weeks ago. To me this stuff looks like kitty litter, but I was tired of carting it into our home on our shoes. So we dealt with all of that and in the midst of that we started scraping up the paint on our deck. Though we painted the deck this spring, all of the paint is chipping and coming up. It is a hateful sight and we think that having large carts carrying 2000 pounds of candy back and forth truly damaged the paint. Any case, it was a busy evening for us, but we appreciated the simple fact that we could do this together.