Mattie Miracle 2021 Walk was a $125,000 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: 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

June 7, 2014

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken on August 4, 2003. We took Mattie to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for the first time. He was one year old (16 months old), and toddling. Not walking yet! We rented a house right on the Atlantic and the funny part about this photo to me was.... look what intrigued Mattie?!!!! Not going onto the beach or looking at the water but playing with the garden hose and hosing down the deck. We tried taking Mattie to the beach that summer, but the sand and ocean truly bothered and scared him. I have to admit that upset me at first, but I moved passed that, and made the best out of it, and did what Mattie wanted to do. Eventually over time, Mattie grew to love the sand and being by the ocean, but it wasn't in the summer of 2003. With Mattie, things happened on his time, not on anyone else's!

Quote of the day: We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.  Mother Teresa

It took Peter and I about seven hours for us to drive from Washington, DC to Nags Head, NC. This is longer than usual because we hit incredible traffic. At one point, we were stuck in a traffic jam in which we moved about two miles in 90 miles. It was very frustrating since we are both under the weather, but there was no where to go and patience was necessary. Well let me restate that, I guess for some people there were options! For the car in front of us, she decided to pull over to the break down lane and literally she drove her car backward for miles until she got to an exit ramp. Besides this being highly dangerous to negotiate her car in reverse, we can add this is also illegal! 

While in the car and stuck in traffic, I happened to look down at my wrist. Something caught my eye. I noticed an angel charm glimmering at me on my charm bracelet. At first, I thought.... what a pretty charm! Then the second thought was..... where did this charm come from? I knew it looked familiar! Then it hit me! Margaret gave me this charm at Christmas time because she wanted me to know I was her angel! A comment that will always stick with me. In fact, Margaret is the person who gave me my Pandora charm bracelet soon after Mattie died. As many people know, I wear this bracelet EVERY day, it comes with me everywhere, because it is my Mattie memory bracelet. Every charm on it reminds me or symbolizes my connection to Mattie. It is eerie in a way that this angel that now dangles from it reminds me of the two angels that watch over me, Mattie and Margaret. When this dawned on me in the car, this brought great sadness upon me and of course tears. Naturally Peter had no idea why on earth I just burst out into tears while surrounded by walls of traffic! The beauty of grief, as he knows all too well. 

Along our journey into North Carolina, we passed many wonderful farms! Filled with corn! I love the adorable tractor too! This one is just begging you to come on in and shop at their farm stand!

When we used to visit the Outer Banks a decade ago, we always stopped at a family farm stand owned by Morris Farm. They were known for their red tractor out front. In fact, we have several photos of Mattie sitting on their red tractor YEARS ago! Today we stopped by Morris Farm and we couldn't get over the stand. The stand is NOT a stand any more. More like a STORE!

This is now Morris Farm Market! A totally amazing experience! All I could do was walk around in it and say.... WOW! I did not recognize where I was. Except for the fact that I love the freshness of all their products. Vegetables and fruits just picked and beautiful! Samples every where and people who take pride in their work and their products. 

Morris Farm in my mind is known for their North Carolina peaches. You can see them in bags in this photo. I have never tasted peaches like this. They even make peach salsa that is incredible! I wish the market was closer to the condo we are staying at because I would be visiting often. We came back with fruits and vegetables for the week. To me farm fresh things are a real treat! 

Typically when we stayed in the Outer Banks years ago, we would stay at the Northern end of the Barrier Island. A decade later, we have returned to stay in a new condo development on the opposite end of the Island. This is our view from our balcony. I personally loved the life guard's orange umbrella! Seemed very Mattie Miracle to me!

Today was a glorious sunny day! They are saying that the next several days will be filled with rain and clouds. I can only hope they are wrong. We really do not need anything else to further depress us and Peter needs sun and heat to get rid of his horrific cough. A cough that is debilitating to have for such a prolonged period of time.

June 6, 2014

Friday, June 6, 2014

Friday, June 6, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2008. Shortly after Mattie was diagnosed with cancer, Margaret came over to visit Mattie. In fact, a week ago today, I visited Margaret. I sat with her to say good-bye, she may have been alive, but she was not conscious per se. However, I would like to think she still could hear what I was saying. I shared many stories with her, one of which involved her visit on the day this photo was taken! That day, I left Margaret and Mattie for a little while in our home to spend time with each other, low and behold when I came back, there was a huge crane outside our window and literally the walls of our balcony had been stripped away! When Margaret replayed what had transpired for us it was down right hysterical because here she was over to entertain and play with Mattie, never realizing that the entertainment was going to come from an enormous crane demolishing our balcony right outside our window. It was an incredible sight and and Mattie was absolutely in awe over the whole thing. Margaret and I chuckled over this for years to come, because this was totally out of the blue, none of us were expecting it and yet it was the perfect diversion and activity to change Mattie's mood!

Quote of the day: Sweet is the memory of distant friends! Like the mellow rays of the departing sun, it falls tenderly, yet sadly, on the heart. ~ Washington Irving

It is my hope that my reflections that I have shared on the blog this week of Margaret have given you some feeling for the amazing woman she was, for the incredible loss this is for all of us who knew her, and how the world is truly a bit more bleak without her presence in it. These are only some of my words and feelings but to me silence regarding someone you care about is NEVER appropriate. 

Tomorrow, Peter and I are driving to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We haven't been there in maybe a decade. This region of the Country holds many memories for us. This is where Mattie spent his toddler summers, and before Mattie was born, Peter and I ventured down there as a newly married couple. However, we haven't returned there in many years and I am sure a great many things have changed since our last trip. All I can remember is my amazement and awe with the Outer Banks the first time we drove over the causeway. There was something about it that seemed magical to me, but then again, I have read every Nicholas Sparks book out there and therefore am intrigued with his fictionalized account of North Carolina. Which is why we went to Emerald Isle last summer. 

It has been a very stressful, disheartening, debilitating, and grief filled spring for us.... with losing Mary in March, Jocelyn in April, and now Margaret in June. Any one of these losses would be overwhelming, taken in total, well it just becomes almost toxic. All on top of Mattie, a loss that we honestly still can't make sense out of and continue to grapple with. So tomorrow, I will be writing to you from the Outer Banks, and I consider myself lucky enough at this point to be fever free to do that. 

Tonight's photo of Margaret was taken on September 24 of 2008. I took Mattie to the Resurrection Children's Center playground so he could play with his buddy Alex (Julie is also standing next to me and she is Alex's mom). Mattie was two months into his cancer diagnosis and his school was trying to support us and give Mattie a chance to be a kid and run around in an environment he deemed safe and normal. 

June 5, 2014

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in January of 2006. If you look closely Mattie was looking right at Margaret! I was the scheduled parent helper in Margaret's classroom that day. The activity you see here just did not happen! Instead, this was another "plan" that Margaret and I concocted together. I wanted to do something special with the children around the holidays. So Margaret suggested something out of gingerbread! Well the notion was intriguing except what Margaret did not realize was I had NEVER baked a piece of gingerbread before in my life! I love to cook, but I am NOT a baker. So we discussed making gingerbread houses, that the kids could decorate. Of course I can't do anything simple, and I would say making a gingerbread house from scratch is NOT simple! Margaret had a beautiful gingerbread house mold that she lent me to bake dough in. Now of course all I needed was to learn how to make the dough and figure out how on earth to make royal icing or "the edible glue" that holds the gingerbread together. For that, I quickly emailed my mother-in-law, Barbara. After this gingerbread house project, I can safely say, I KNOW HOW TO MAKE GINGERBREAD! The project was a big hit that day in the classroom. In fact it was such a hit, that the other three classrooms in the school came in to decorate with us that day! Margaret knew her audience well!!!

Quote of the day: What we have once enjoyed, we can never lose.  All that we love deeply becomes part of us. ~ Helen Keller

Today was the first day I could actually get out of bed and did not have a fever. However I am still not feeling 100%. Yet despite not feeling great, I had over 45 applications delivered to my door from my licensure board. Applications which needed to be processed. That may not sound complicated but reviewing applications is very time consuming especially when it involves verifying documents and hours. It took me ten hours to process 45 applications and just when I thought I was done, 40 more were delivered to my doorstep tonight. My front desk wanted to know if I have a business going on the side! Funny, I wish I did, and I wish I was getting paid for this work! I would be making a fortune! But serving on the licensure board is an elected position in which we are appointed by the DC Mayor. Needless to say, this wasn't the best way to ease back into the world today.

I was so happy Peter found this photo of Margaret and her family on Facebook. Our friend Kathy captured this moment with Margaret at our Mattie Miracle Walk in 2012. Margaret was pictured here with her husband, daughter, son-in-law, and grand daughter, Charlotte. Charlotte is a real spitfire. I have had the wonderful opportunity to get to meet Charlotte several times now while visiting Margaret. There is something about her that reminds me of the female counterpart of Mattie. She is bright, engaging, and just ON. She knows how to challenge you and she looks at you like she is sizing you up. Reminds me a lot of Mattie. Typically children do not gravitate to me right away, and yet Charlotte and I seem to just get along. 

June 4, 2014

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in the Fall of 2005. This was Mattie's first preschool class at Resurrection Children's Center (RCC). A class whose head teacher was Margaret (the lady seated wearing the white pants) and whose assistant teacher was Lana (the lady wearing the green shirt). I haven't mentioned Lana recently, but Lana is also a fantastic educator and person, and we still keep in touch with one another. In fact, Lana and Mattie had their own special connection. There was something magical about this classroom though. There were 12 students and of these 12 children, to this day, I am still connected with 9 out of the 12 families. Only two have I lost track of.... I would say that is rather incredible! I always credit that to the environment and tone set within the classroom. I still remember the first night in 2005, when parents got to meet each other and we went around the classroom chatting with each other. I briefly, and I mean briefly, shared with the other parents the bad preschool experience we had prior to coming to RCC and our hope that RCC would be better. I distinctly remember one parent grabbed me in the meeting and said in front of all the parents that she guaranteed it would different. She was absolutely correct, and she and I are still friends today! It was within Margaret's classroom that Mattie made probably his closest friendship, with Zachary. In fact, in the photo Zachary was sitting right next to Mattie on the bench. They were inseparable and sitting right behind Margaret in the photo was Ellie. Ellie is my friend Carolyn's daughter. Carolyn is my Walk Raffle Chair. I couldn't run our raffle without Carolyn, and yet if it weren't for Margaret's classroom, I would never have met Carolyn. Margaret's physical presence may be gone, but she is far from gone. Her presence exists in the multitude of bonds and connections she has formed for the countless number of children and parents she has worked with over the years.  

Quote of the day: At some of the darkest moments in my life, some people I thought of as friends deserted me -- some because they cared about me and it hurt them to see me in pain; others because I reminded them of their own vulnerability, and that was more than they could handle. But real friends overcame their discomfort and came to sit with me. If they had not words to make me feel better, they sat in silence (much better than saying, "You'll get over it," or "It's not so bad; others have it worse") and I loved them for it. Harold Kushner

I am always fascinated by how intuitive people are about knowing when they are going to die. They can predict it much better for us than any medical test or doctor. I saw this first hand with Mattie. I of course did not want to believe it and figured first of all what did a seven year old know or understand about the complex notion of death? Apparently much more than I gave him credit for! I would say Mattie knew his body was in decline way before the rest of us, way before they scanned his body in August of 2009. He certainly knew his cancer came back and had spread. Despite his intense pain and true starvation, he put up with my physical therapy schedule that I established for him. It really was remarkable. Of course as his breathing became labored and we assessed what his true issues were, all therapy ended. But somehow as I was reflecting on Margaret's end of life this weekend, I tied in my insights with Mattie to what I observed with Margaret. 

I always viewed Margaret as a bright and well read individual. If met with a challenge, she was going to learn about it, and figure it out. Naturally her illness would test even a saint. The art of communication was probably one of the many gifts Margaret possessed. She could talk to practically anyone and it would be a delightful and meaningful interaction. However, with such a neurological disease, when you lose the ability to speak or to write, how do you communicate? How do you engage with those around you? Well it gets trickier. In Margaret's case she had a board with letters that we would put in front of her and we would point to each letter of the alphabet one by one. Tracking her eyes. If we selected the correct letter she would blink, but basically she had to spell a word out letter by letter, one word at a time to form a sentence. Clearly that took time and was EXHAUSTING FOR HER! For a woman with an active mind, can you mind how infuriating this was? 

As I joked with Margaret, we both needed the board! She needed the front of the board and I needed the back of the board to keep up with the words she was forming! I am a visual learner. So whatever letters she was pointing out to me on the front, I would have to record them on the back of the board for myself, because otherwise, I would forget what words we were spelling out. Believe me we learned this the HARD WAY! Which only further complicated and slowed down the communication process. I remember one day last month I talked to Margaret about spending more time with her this summer once the Foundation Walk was over. I suggested that if she wanted to, we could work together to figure out how to use the computer device that she had to assist her with communication. Mind you Margaret's husband and family had tried diligently to work with Margaret on this but they stopped because it wasn't in Margaret's best interest at the time. Before talking to Margaret about this issue, I naturally spoke to Brian (her husband). Brian was fine with it, which is why I addressed it with Margaret.  

Not only was Margaret not interested in using the communication device with me but she also did not seem to have a reaction to my suggestion that we spend more time together over the summer. I was surprised by this. It seemed so foreign to me given the person I had known for so many years. At the time I chalked it up to Margaret not feeling well, having a bad day, not being comfortable, and so forth. However, digging deeper, that day always bothered me because this was UNCHARACTERISTIC Margaret. Even on a bad day, this wasn't Margaret. What Margaret was trying to tell me was...... "Vicki, I'm not going to make it through the summer. So there will be no time to use the machine and no time to spend together." Of course if I were her, I would have added to that message.... STUPID, get with the program!!! But Margaret was too nice to say that! Despite caring for people with grave and terminal illnesses, I admit I just can't accept that time is finite. I always think there will be more time, but there never is.

This was a photo taken on my birthday in 2011. The party was held at Clyde's. Becca, the executive chef of Clyde's came out to say hi and took a photo with us. Becca donates and cooks all the food at our Mattie Miracle Walks. Margaret was at this party with us. She was all the way on the right hand side of the photo!

June 3, 2014

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Tuesday, June 3, 2014 -- Mattie died 247 weeks ago today.

Tonight's photo was taken in September of 2008. Mattie was diagnosed with cancer and his preschool invited him back to the playground after hours to see his two teachers, the director, and to play with his buddy, Alex. They wanted Mattie to have a chance to feel support in a normal environment which he enjoyed playing in! Standing right next to me on the top step was Margaret. Then on the second level from left to right were Kim (Resurrection Children's Center's Director), Mattie, Kathy (Mattie's preschool teacher, during Mattie's second year at the School. Kathy is another gifted teacher and to this day comes to our Foundation Walks and participates in our fundraising teams!), and Alex. The woman dressed in pink in the front row is Deb (the School's occupational therapist). 

Quote of the day: If suffering like hers had any use, she reasoned, it was not to the sufferer. The only way that an individual's pain gained meaning was through its communication to others. ~ Diane Wood Middlebrook

As I remain in bed today still not feeling well, with a fever, this gives me a great deal of time to reflect on the death of my friend, Margaret. As Diane Middlebrook's quote implies, individual pain itself serves NO purpose unless it is communicated to others. I personally gravitate and support this message. However, Since this is Mattie's and in essence my blog, I am in NO way trying to give Margaret's illness a voice here. Instead, I can only provide my own insights into what it was like as her friend trying to interact with her as she battled ALS.

In many ways, I lost my 85 year old friend, Mary and Margaret in a similar manner. The only difference is with Mary her decline was gradual and with Margaret there was no time to prepare. One week Margaret was talking and eating and practically the next week, those skills were lost. But in all essence, there were no plateaus for Margaret. She never was able to reach an equilibrium. She went from being unable to walk, to being unable to use her arms, to being unable to talk, to swallow, and then to breath. A rapid, rapid decline, nothing happened gradually. Being trapped in one's body unable to do anything for one's self and being unable to communicate to the outside world..... to me that is hell on earth. The frustrations and depression this can produce are enormous but seeing this impact your own friend, a person you knew to be full of life, who was independent and liked to do things for herself, to help people, to accomplish thing, and to converse both in writing and verbally.... this was the worst possible disease I could ever imagine for my dear friend. 

Many of my visits with Margaret involved crying. For those of you reading this, you may be saying..... "how sad," or "how depressing." Why did I not go to cheer Margaret up, make her laugh, take her mind off her troubles? Serve as a diversion? At times I would do that, because clearly none of us can sit in agony all the time, and if you knew Margaret, then you knew she had a great sense of humor. The disease never stripped her of that, amazingly! Because in all honesty if I were in her situation, I am not sure I could have been as introspective. Perhaps it is who I am or just what our relationship was all about, but Margaret and I always talked about feelings openly. So not addressing the underlying issues about the crisis at hand seemed disingenuous and I always wanted her to know I was there to listen and to try to understand. She knew this and understood this and I imagine this is why it was easy to cry together. But crying is an important emotional outlet and sometimes this is not something you can do with those you are closest to because you want to protect them from more hurt and more pain. 

Yet in all our conversations, and no matter how sick and declining Margaret was, our talks were always TWO WAYS. She always wanted to know how I was doing, what I was up to, and she wanted to be a part of my life. That speaks volumes about her as a person and her character. A true friend and a special human being. 

One thing is for certain though, Margaret had the best quality of life given her circumstances only because of the diligence of her husband and children who were by her side religiously. I am sure if you asked them, they would not even view themselves as Margaret's caregivers. They were there because of the love and deep connection they have for Margaret and yet as I know all too well, caring for someone so intensely has long term consequences physically and mentally. I know this not only as a professional (which ironically was my area of research study before Mattie developed cancer, caregivers of ill family members) but unfortunately from my very personal experiences of caring for my grandmother and Mattie.   

In December of 2007, Margaret and I went to the top of the National Cathedral and had high tea for the Holidays. It was a very special treat. I never knew such an event existed, but leave it to Margaret! She introduced me to many wonderful things around town! It was a very memorable moment and though Margaret wasn't as photo happy as I was, she put up with my need for documentation. Not unlike Mattie! Several months ago, I resent this photo to Margaret, and her response to me was she was SO HAPPY to see that moment in time again! 

June 2, 2014

Monday, June 2, 2014

Monday, June 2, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken on May 17, 2006. Mattie was in Margaret's preschool classroom and you can see he was all the way in the front of the classroom in the corner by the window. Mattie's preschool is a coop school, meaning that parents volunteer in the classroom each day on a rotating schedule. That day was my turn, and therefore, I got to participate in the class. It was a wonderful way for me to get to know the children in the class, to interact with Mattie's teachers, and to see Margaret doing what she was so gifted at.... teaching children. I realize a coop program is not for every parent, but it was the perfect model for me, which enabled me to have a very hands on experience in Mattie's preschool development. I am so happy I did not miss a moment with Mattie or with my friend, Margaret!

Quote of the day: If I had a single flower for every time I think of you, I could walk forever in my garden. ~ Claudia Adrienne Grandi

I wasn't feeling well last night and literally it was impossible to sleep! When I woke up this morning I had an 101 fever and was sick to my stomach! I knew these signs all too well because these were just some of the awful symptoms Peter had last week! Keep in mind that Peter is still not 100% yet! I was so lethargic, I never left my bed today. Which is NOT like me at all. 

I came across this photo I took of Margaret and my friend Susan during our Mattie Miracle 2011 Walk. Margaret and Susan were representing the Foundation at the Foundation Table. Margaret did this for us until she got sick. Margaret did this beautifully because Margaret knew many of our contributors within the community and therefore had a way to greeting them, reconnecting with them, and updating them about our progress in a non-intrusive manner. A beautiful smile that will be missed as a friend and somehow I always look for her behind our Foundation Table at our Walks!

In honor of Margaret, my dear friend Mary Ann sent me a photo of these beautiful roses in her neighborhood! 

Mary Ann also sent me a photo of these Irises in her neighborhood. Margaret grew irises as well and recently about a month or so ago Margaret gave me a stack of note cards. On each of the note cards were featured photos of flowers from her garden over the years. Needless to say I never plan on using these cards. In a way they are works of art and a wonderful remembrance of my dear friend, and the gardener that she was.  

I have appreciated my friends sending me photos of flowers! Not only did it brighten my day, but I would like to think that while they were helping me to think of Margaret, they were thinking of her on some level too! My friend Linda sent me a photo of these happy pansies today. Pansies and petunias are fascinating flowers to me because they look like faces, full of expression. 

June 1, 2014

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Margaret we will always remember you fondly!

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2006. Mattie was in his first year of preschool at Resurrection Children's Center in Alexandria, VA. Keep in mind that Mattie lived in Washington, DC, and this school was in Virginia. We were the ONLY family who commuted over the river to attend preschool. There was a reason for this! The first reason I will explain below (which I have never gone into detail about before on the Blog) and the second sits next to Mattie in this photo, Margaret. When I met Margaret during his preschool play date, we both fell in love with her as a teacher. So much so, that after the play date I remember telling the preschool director to PLEASE accept us to her school. I told her if she accepted us, I would guarantee her that I would be driving Mattie to Alexandria to attend! The rest is history. Mattie was accepted, he was a part of Margaret's classroom, and it was in 2005, that Mattie not only developed and grew but I was lucky enough to form a beautiful friendship. Or as Margaret would call us, "dear friends."

Quote of the day: To die and part is a less evil; but to part and live, there, there is the torment. ~ George Lansdowne

It is with great sadness that I write tonight about the death of my dear friend, Margaret. Out of respect for Margaret's desires, I have not written about her journey with ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis often referred to as "Lou Gehrig's Disease," is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.). However, Margaret's battle was rapid, quick, and devastating, with this illness taking her life in less than two years time. Margaret died today at 10:55am, and she was a vivacious, bright, captivating, energetic, and compassionate individual, who had a joy for living, loved to laugh, saw the goodness in others, and helped you see this as well. She was my museum buddy, my foodie friend, my friend to have tea and cake with, and my friend who you could have a heart to heart conversation with and get sound advice. We could be serious together, zany together, have fun together, cry together, and could we talk. Margaret and I could talk for HOURS! Six, eight hours.... absolutely no problem! Don't ask what we talked about, but we could do it, on all subjects, it was just natural for us. She is not replaceable and today another hole has been left in my heart! But as I told her on Friday when I had a chance to say good-bye to her.... "there is a seven year old waiting your arrival, and he is there to show you the way!"

My connection to Margaret would never have happened without Mattie! She is another gift that was brought into my life because of my son. Mattie and I went through a lot together in a short period of time. Mattie's first preschool experience was a disaster. He went to a Montessori preschool in Washington, DC. I will never forget this preschool's director or some of the parents who attended this institution. Mattie lasted there only two months, September and October of 2004, but those two months were an absolutely rocky nightmare. Each day the preschool director would call me into her office and tell me what a terrible child Mattie was, that something was profoundly wrong with him, and that he needed psychiatric evaluations. On one occasion, she wanted my signed approval to wash his mouth out with soap. Needless to say, that did not happen and I managed her the best I could. I think the only reason Mattie lasted there two months was because I listened to her and gave her free emotional support. Otherwise she would have gotten rid of us much sooner. The more I talked with her, I realized the one who needed the psychiatric evaluation was the director, but nonetheless, as a new mom, she had the power. The last incident at the school that did us in was Mattie bit a student and the director herself! The student's parent threatened to sue me for the medical damages to his child and at that point the director had it with us! She dismissed us from school. 

Instead of a preschool experience, Mattie was home with me for an entire year and I wasn't sure what to do at that point. Of course by that point, thankfully I had outside support with Mattie's occupational therapist and speech therapist, who were both God sends. I don't know where I would have been without these women. They were the ones who told me about Resurrection Children's Center (RCC). RCC is an inclusive preschool and integrates children with special needs into their classrooms. Given the feedback I received from the Montessori School, I assumed Mattie had a special need.

When we applied to RCC, we said Mattie was a special needs student. Though in my heart of hearts, I did not believe this. I thought given the circumstances and the environment within the Montessori School, that this triggered certain behaviors, but I couldn't be certain, and given the pronouncement of the former school, I had to do my due diligence! 

Then entered Margaret into our lives. When Mattie entered Margaret's classroom, he was really raw material. He had been home all year long with me. I occasionally let Mattie socialize with other children, but it was always under careful supervision. Mattie also had several sensory issues, so when he entered Margaret's classroom, he couldn't drink out of a cup, he was deathly afraid of playgrounds, swings, slides, and wasn't potty trained! These are just the physical issues. In her classroom Mattie learned to be a friend, to socialize, to play, to cooperate, and to just be! In reality, she created the kind of enriching, nurturing, and safe environment he needed so that his inner potential could come shining through! I always credit Mattie's greatest emotional growth in a classroom setting to Margaret. It was in that year, Margaret would email me updates almost each day about his progress. Some of these emails I still have, because you have to understand how exciting it was to receive POSITIVE feedback about Mattie back then! For us it was RARE. I will always love the email in which Margaret told me she plopped Mattie in her lap and together they went down the slide! THE SLIDE..... something that terrorized him!!!

Within the first semester of preschool, Margaret assessed Mattie right off of the "special needs" status list! She confirmed exactly what I suspected! I can't tell you what a victory that was to hear for me, so though Mattie was Margaret's teacher, Margaret and I became allies and friends. I would say almost instantly. Even while Mattie was in Margaret's classroom, we would meet on non-school days and have lunch together. Something just clicked with each other, it is hard to explain, but there was chemistry, and that chemistry has taken us through a decade together. 

So this is how our relationship started! It began when I felt very uncertain about the health and welfare about Mattie. I also felt very uncertain about my own parenting skills! Margaret was a bit like Mary Poppins, she helped me see that neither of us had a problem and all the feedback and advice I had gotten from multiple sources about Mattie were ALL incorrect (not from his occupational or speech therapists, they were always sound and on target)! She allowed me to develop renewed faith in myself, which I needed at that point in my life. That was a very deep and meaningful way for a friendship to start and to grow. When Mattie entered kindergarten, I remember contacting Margaret one day and consulted with her about an activity to bring to his classroom around the holidays. It was Margaret who gave me a copy of the Jan Brett book, The Gingerbread Baby and then gave me this wonderful cookie cutter of a big gingerbread baby, in the shape of the character in the book. Mind you she loved the book, because the main character was named Matti. I went to Mattie's kindergarten classroom for the first time that year, read them the book, brought each of them a big cookie, and they got to decorate it themselves. It was a hit, and that was a project, I felt Margaret and I pulled off together! I have many, many Margaret and Me stories. 

Since I realize some of you may not know who Margaret is, I posted this photo taken of us in November of 2011. Margaret attended the Friends and Sponsors Dinner held at the Four Seasons Hotel by Georgetown University Hospital. Mattie Miracle was being acknowledged with an award that evening and Margaret and her husband were our guests. Margaret was a BIG Mattie Miracle supporter.

Margaret is in the first row, sitting down, on the right in stripes. As you can see she was a young woman who was taken from us in an untimely and horrific manner. 

In honor of Margaret, I am not posting Mattie Miracle Walk photos this evening. Instead, I am posting photos of roses! Margaret cultivated roses in her backyard! Glorious ones! She took great pride in them. In her honor, I went out today and snapped photos of roses we saw along our journey. When I see butterflies I think of my Mattie. When I see roses, I will always think of Margaret!