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

Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation Promotional Video

Thank you for keeping Mattie's memory alive!

Dear Mattie Blog Readers,

It means a great deal to us that you take the time to write to us and to share your thoughts, feelings, and reflections on Mattie's battle and death. Your messages are very meaningful to us and help support us through very challenging times. To you we are forever grateful. As my readers know, I promised to write the blog for a year after Mattie's death, which would mean that I could technically stop writing on September 9, 2010. However, at the moment, I feel like our journey with grief still needs to be processed and fortunately I have a willing support network still committed to reading. Therefore, the blog continues on. If I should find the need to stop writing, I assure you I will give you advanced notice. In the mean time, thank you for reading, thank you for having the courage to share this journey with us, and most importantly thank you for keeping Mattie's memory alive.


As Mattie would say, Ooga Booga (meaning, I LOVE YOU)! Vicki and Peter



The Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation celebrates its 7th anniversary!

The Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation was created in the honor of Mattie.

We are a 501(c)(3) Public Charity. We are dedicated to increasing childhood cancer awareness, education, advocacy, research and psychosocial support services to children, their families and medical personnel. Children and their families will be supported throughout the cancer treatment journey, to ensure access to quality psychosocial and mental health care, and to enable children to cope with cancer so they can lead happy and productive lives. Please visit the website at: www.mattiemiracle.com and take some time to explore the site.

We have only gotten this far because of people like yourself, who have supported us through thick and thin. So thank you for your continued support and caring, and remember:

.... Let's Make the Miracle Happen and Stomp Out Childhood Cancer!

A Remembrance Video of Mattie

Random Shots of Mattie, Family and Friends

June 21, 2014

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2007. We took Mattie to Lancaster, PA for the weekend. Outside of one of the restaurants was an authentic Amish wagon. Earlier that day, we took Mattie for a wagon ride through one of the farms, which was very interesting and we learned about the culture and life on the farm. I remember on that trip Mattie and I were introduced to the beauty of apple butter and other Amish recipes. We both fell in love with the butter! Mattie was a butter fanatic and he could eat it straight! A real dairy fellow!!!



Quote of the day: The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones. ~ Chinese Proverb


Today I returned to one of my alma maters to teach a two hour class on trauma and childhood cancer. I have been away from the university classroom for years now, and coming back to it for me is always met with happiness and fear at the same time. If that makes any sense at all. Teaching seems like something I did eons ago, maybe a lifetime ago! Yet whether I am in the classroom or not, my work with Mattie Miracle involves education! But with that said, teaching for two hours involves a different skill set. 

These past few weeks have been a whirlwind with the Foundation Walk, Peter sick, going away, traveling to Ohio, and then today. Some days I don't know which end is up. I just feel I can't get it all done, or I wish I could do more! I focused this week on pulling together today's presentation before heading to Ohio, and fortunately my efforts paid off. I believe today went quite smoothly. 

I was very impressed with the students. This is one of the greatest things I miss about teaching! The students!!! I always learned a great deal from my students. Their insights, commentary, how they felt about topics, and they always stimulated my thinking which I found very engaging! I started off today's class by telling the students that at one time, I was just like them. I too was studying to be a mental health professional and thought my life was going down one pathway and was going to look a certain way! But life presented me with a different challenge. Childhood cancer to be specific. I explained that Mattie developed cancer and died and once that happened the life that I once led did not quite mean the same to me and therefore I couldn't return to it. However, with that said, I still use the skills I learned and developed at the University. This was one of my messages that I wanted to deliver today. Life presents you all sorts of unexpected things and in some cases traumas. But the skills you obtain never leave you. They are a part of you. You can use these skills in a multitude of ways throughout your life. It just so happens that I am using my mental health skills now in my Foundation work to try to help countless numbers of children and families with cancer. I felt that was an important point to make.

Though I wanted to share childhood cancer facts, discuss what medical trauma is and its symptoms, discuss a medical trauma model and interventions, I first began by sharing Mattie's story and discussing some Foundation information. I shared with the students the four minute video of Mattie that is attached to this blog. I debated back and forth as to whether I show this video to the class. But in the end, I decided to show the video. I decided to show the video for the following reasons: 1) it illustrates that Mattie was a real child and therefore makes the topic we were talking about real and not theoretic, 2) I wanted to illustrate that childhood cancer is a family disease and seeing photos of Mattie with me, Peter, and other family members and friends got that point across, and 3) I also wanted to impress upon the class that Mattie's illness also impacted his medical caregivers. Several of whom were featured in the video. After Mattie died, many of Mattie's care team needed emotional support. I personally do not feel this crossed any professional boundaries. It on the other hand points to just how challenging it is to work with childhood cancer patients and their families and when working with life and death issues it is impossible not to have human attachments and emotions. 

I have shown this video to MANY MANY classes! Today's class was the first that I can remember to truly have a very emotional reaction. Several were crying. Which of course is exactly the point and what I was after! So this told me a lot about this class immediately! 


At the end of class, I asked the students and Dr. Marotta, the professor of the class (the blond lady on the left in the front row), if they would be willing to take a photo for our Foundation Newsletter! They ALL agreed! I brought along our Foundation banner! I love taking photos of classes because I believe it is important to educate the next generation about childhood cancer and specifically about the psychosocial needs of childhood cancer. These individuals are all training to be mental health professionals and they heard my messages today. I have no doubt at some point in their professional career they will be faced with a cancer survivor of some kind, and I have a feeling some of the content we talked about today will come to mind. 

Dr. Marotta took a photo with me in it! Notice that everyone is dressed as if it is winter time! That is because this room is kept at polar bear temperatures. Since this is an intensive class that runs from 9am to 5pm, the students can't possibly make it in there all day without dressing warmly. Some even come prepared with blankets. It is that bad!!! 

Later today, I received the most beautiful email from my friend Mary Ann (we went to graduate school together)! She wanted me to know she was thinking of me. She knew I was lecturing on trauma, returning to the University, and just wanted to send a friendly email just because! The best kind of email and message! Which made a huge difference in my outlook and output!

June 20, 2014

Friday, June 20, 2014

Friday, June 20, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2007, in Dutch Wonderland. A themed park for preschoolers in Pennsylvania. The irony of this photo was prior to entering into preschool Mattie was deathly afraid of slides! Yet look at this enormous slide he and Peter went on together! You can't see the top of it, but it was high, tall, and long! Mattie loved it and wasn't scared in the least. Mattie had a great time visiting Dutch Wonderland and it was that weekend that I could see he simply loved the thrill of theme parks. You either love them or you don't! I don't, and Mattie did! We were alike in SO many ways, this was our one distinguishing difference.  


Quote of the day: It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get back up. ~ Vince Lombardi


Yesterday when Peter and I arrived at our hotel in Columbus, Ohio, people were getting off at the curbside by the BUS LOADS! I had never seen such a thing. As if a whole conference of people were pulling into town and staying at our hotel! Well literally this was happening, a conference was occurring at the hotel, but it was no ordinary conference! It was a conference of MY LITTLE PONY! Now I knew my Little Pony the toy. I saw it before while toy shopping for Mattie, but to my surprise..... who was carrying the stuffed animals, wearing the t-shirts, and dressed up as ponies????? Adults!!! I was introduced to a new term, a BRONY! A brony is an adult interested in My Little Pony! I included a website that explains the following so you know I am not making it up! These folks are very serious about their passion, and frankly they were so entertaining to watch that I wanted to pay the registration fee today and join their conference!!!
http://whatisabrony.com/



Peter and I presented today to an audience of maybe close to 75 people. Over the years our style has changed, which is bound to happen as we grow and develop. In the beginning, back in 2009 and 2010, we were deeply grieving parents and really we used the forum of presentations to be heard more than to professionally advocate for the work of Mattie Miracle. Now however, we are the faces of the Foundation. As such, YES we are compelled to tell the story of Mattie and share his battle (because ultimately Mattie's battle guides our mission, goals, and objectives of the Foundation), but we walk a fine line. We need to do this in an appropriate manner. If we present and break down, look weak, fall apart, then guess what? Our message as a Foundation is lost, doesn't get conveyed, and worse it doesn't portray the image I am hoping Mattie Miracle has.... which is that of a compassionate leader with a vision to hopefully advocate and work hard so that we can achieve a national standard of psychosocial care for all children with cancer.  

Why am I saying all of this? Well I am saying this because sometimes now when I present, I find it harder to know whether I am getting through to people! In the earlier days, when our emotions were MUCH more raw, it was MUCH more obvious to me that my message was getting across and people were listening. Now not so much! But here is my earth shattering observation from today!!! After our presentation we migrated into smaller working groups. It was in the smaller group time and throughout the afternoon, people came up to talk with me. One on one! It was in these one on one chats that I could immediately see based on what was being said to me that people understood our hour long message! They perceived just how challenging, and I mean emotionally challenging this work is for us, and several people even acknowledged how difficult it must be for me to hear survivors of childhood cancer talk today. That is a whole other conversation and blog topic, but yes this psychologist was absolutely correct. 

The audience at the conference was comprised of medical doctors, nurses, psychologists, chaplains, educational specialists, and other psychosocial support professionals. It was a very diverse group who are used to the topic of cancer and yet it was clear to me that death and being around parents who lost a child to cancer did make them uneasy. It is hard to know how to deal with people like Peter and I! Professionals don't know how to deal with us, so why should mainstream society?!!! I think it was harder for the group as a whole to focus, interact, and ask us questions in a larger forum setting. But one on one, people were more inclined to talk about our loss and to also ask us questions about our standard of care project. A project which seemed to really get a lot of interest and attention today. 

Peter and I are pictured here with Kathy (Education Coordinator at National Children's Hospital Columbus and the Vice Chairperson of APHOES) and Megan (School Intervention Specialist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center)! Kathy is one of the leaders who invited us to Columbus in March to deliver the keynote address at the APHOES conference and it was through Kathy's conference that we got connected with the Ohio Department of Health. As for Megan, we had the wonderful opportunity to meet Megan at the APHOES conference and she works closely with Mary Kay, who is the Chair of APHOES.


This is my second time visiting the Columbus airport this year and this advertisement gets me each time I see it! I snapped a photo of it today to show you! I think it is starling! First of all it is enormous, you can't miss it in size alone. But honestly I have been to a lot of airports all over the Country, and I have yet to see such a profound and prominent ad for cancer! Not only did we see this ad, but today as we drove to get to the conference, we actually had to drive passed the James, which is the Hospital featured in this Ad. The facility from the outside was as equally as impressive as the ad. I really like so much about the ad, from the captivating eyes of the woman looking at us, to the fact that she is telling us that at the James she feels that she is treated not like a number, but as a unique individual who has cancer. That is where the ad should have ended! Then in the fine print, it goes on to talk about a team of "researchers and oncologists are working together to CURE your cancer." That is where it LOST me! THERE IS NO CURE for cancer. Any oncologist who tells you they can cure your cancer, should be a BIG RED FLAG in my book. Once you have cancer, I am not sure you are ever truly CURED! You may be so lucky to have NO EVIDENCE OF DISEASE, but you will always have to be monitored and to some extent you can have long term effects from treatment. So I think layman use the term cured, I am surprised to see it used in this way by a well known cancer treatment center. 

June 19, 2014

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken on May 27 of 2007. We took Mattie to Amish Country for Memorial Day weekend, and while touring around, we also went to Dutch Wonderland. I had learned about this theme park from one of the preschool moms at Mattie's school. The beauty of this park is it is geared toward this age group, making it rather a pleasant experience in a way! I know when I was Mattie's age, people dressed in costume absolutely scared me to death. I would have been running the opposite direction of this dinosaur. Mattie usually had a healthy fear of certain things, but "Duke" did not bother Mattie in the least. Perhaps because Mattie was used to seeing Barney, the purple dinosaur, on TV. Clearly as you can see Mattie had no problem posing for a photo, and he had a big smile on his face as well! 

Quote of the day: You make a living by what you get; you make a life by what you give. ~ Winston Churchill

I am posting the blog early today! Peter and I are headed to Columbus, Ohio tonight. Originally our flight was scheduled to leave at 3pm. But with weather up North, our flight is delayed until 6pm. Or later, I am not sure! Hopefully we will make it safely to Columbus. We have been invited to give the keynote talk at tomorrow's Department of Health meeting for the State of Ohio. Ohio is opening up its State Health Plan and revising it to include a more comprehensive psychosocial childhood cancer plan. This is actually an historic meeting. Ohio is the first State in the Country to have a Cancer Plan to include psychosocial care. 

When Peter and I gave our keynote address at the Association of Pediatric Hematology Oncology Educational Specialists (APHOES) conference in March, a representative from the Ohio Department of Health was in the audience. She liked our presentation so much, she invited us back to her conference to kick off her event. This is a wonderful opportunity for Mattie Miracle and we are very excited to be able to participate and to learn from Ohio. As a licensed mental health professional, I am well aware of the fact that the State of Ohio has always been a visionary. They have vigorous licensure laws, usually develop standards before many other States, and other States typically look to Ohio when creating their own frameworks and documentation.

In March of 2012, Mattie Miracle hosted the Psychosocial Childhood Cancer Symposium on Capitol Hill. This was the first event of its kind to ever be held on the Hill. Doing such an event was actually a gamble in a way, but we took a chance and did it. The event was a success, so much so we had to turn people away because of room capacity. In attendance that day were congressional staffers, congressional members, mental health professionals, and parent advocates. Over 12 States were represented! That was the beginning of our National movement, in which we then launched our think tanks, assembled the standards project team of over 50 professionals, and began the development of a standards draft which at the moment is an 110 page document. This has all been in two years time. It is a movement in its own right and something we take great pride in. But like all great movements it wouldn't be getting anywhere if it did not have great people working on it! We have been so fortunate to meet stellar and committed professionals who share our vision and as they say we inspire them, they inspire us as well. 

June 18, 2014

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2007. To me this was quintessential  Mattie! Mattie was the ultimate multi-tasker. He loved his sand box and as you can see he had his fishing pole out and was pretending his sand toys were fish! He had quite the imagination but Mattie never liked to play alone. He was a social creature and always wanted my attention and for me to be a part of his play schemes. At times this was very tiring as a parent, because from the moment Mattie woke up in the morning until the moment his head touched the pillow, he demanded my full time attention. All I can say now is I am happy I spent those HOURS, DAYS, and YEARS with him. There will never be regrets on that front regarding time spent or my priorities. Which is fortunate, because that would be a terrible place for me to be in now..... living with that kind of regret and misgivings.


Quote of the day: If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming. ~ Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe


Today I corresponded back and forth with a mom who I met at Georgetown Hospital in 2008. Cathy's daughter, Bridget and Mattie were both diagnosed with cancer around the same time. Which is how I got to know their wonderful family. Through the years, Cathy became a blog reader and I follow Bridget's Caringbridge site. Bridget just turned 21 this month, so she is a bit older than Mattie would be, but she continues to bravely and courageously fight her disease. In fact, Bridget is truly a remarkable young woman who I find quite inspiring and I hope one day she will allow me to interview her because she has a great sense of humor and perspective on life. Which when you think about it is quite remarkable given the fact that she has grown up in hospitals fighting for her life. How can't that alter one's development and mind set? I don't have the answer to this but I do know it takes super human strength and a remarkable family to help stabilize a very challenging day by day situation. Bridget had a bone marrow transplant in April and for the next 100 days, she is living in and out of the hospital. For my faithful readers, I ask that you keep Bridget in your thoughts!

When I look at my own situation, what Cathy's family is enduring, and that of other childhood cancer patients and their families, I guess I continue to be perplexed when I hear teenagers around me whining about their tough and challenging lives. Their everyday challenges! Challenges that kids in the hospital would love to have! Every day problems! As the school year begins to end, and kids are headed for summer vacation, guess what?!! Kids on treatment do NOT have vacation! There is no vacation, there is only treatment. This is the life of a child and teen with cancer. They grow up quickly and chances are when you interact with kids who have cancer, you will think right away that they are older than their chronological years. This happens NOT because the disease physically ages them, but it happens because the disease PSYCHOLOGICALLY ages them. These changes in turn cascade down and impact everyone in the family. 

Cathy asked me today how on earth I find the where with all to write each and every day on Mattie's blog?! This July, will mark my sixth year of writing, and she is correct, writing is a labor of love. When I was in Cathy's shoes, my head was spinning and I was simply exhausted most days. I do not know how I wrote, and how I wrote intelligibly. But I also knew there were people interested in Mattie's progress... the difference between NOW and then is before we were talking about the life of a child. People were concerned about Mattie's life because there was something very unnatural about a child developing cancer. It caused great fear and in essence that fear mobilized forces to act and to support us in incredible ways. So I was compelled to write and was under some delusion that eventually Mattie would go back to school, and therefore it was important to remain connected to the community and those around us. I never thought our story was going to end in death. Or maybe I did not want to accept that reality. So I figured I would keep on writing, but of course now six years later I still continue to write. Naturally my audience of readers has changed a bit and some days I may write more for my own edification than anyone else's. But writing has become my own outlet, because over time the support system for a parent who lost an only child to cancer isn't exactly HUGE. 

June 17, 2014

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 -- Mattie died 249 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2007. This was one of two jars that we used for Mattie's tent moth caterpillars. Each spring for about three years, Mattie would come home with caterpillars. He would bring them home from his schools in Alexandria, VA. He would have to do this since we have NO tent moth caterpillars near us in Washington, DC. Mattie loved caterpillars and he particularly loved watching them transform into moths! I remember the first year we took on this project, I had no idea what to put these caterpillars in or even what to feed them. We went from tree to tree in our complex finding leaves they would eat. Turns out they are finicky and won't eat just anything! They only want oak leaves and thankfully we have one oak tree close by to us! You also wouldn't think caterpillars could be messy, but YES, their jar needed changing and cleaning and I always had that fun job! It was a project Mattie always looked forward to, and as you can see in this photo, Mattie was proud that his caterpillar ate enough and spun into a cocoon! A week later a moth emerged and literally we had a moth releasing ceremony on our deck! We released many moths on our deck over the years!


Quote of the day: In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. ~ Thomas Jefferson


About a month of so ago, I received an email from Kristen, a social worker. Peter and I met Kristen several years ago when we were invited to present on a palliative care parent panel at a conference. Kristen was the co-moderator of this panel. Since that conference we have remained in contact with Kristen. Kristen is a very in-tuned, perceptive, and compassionate mental health professional and recently she contacted me because she was going to be giving a talk about some of the challenges that stand before parents who have an ONLY child diagnosed with cancer and then lose that child to cancer. Interestingly enough Kristen reads this blog and from the blog she has sensed from my perspective that there is a difference in the grieving process for parents who lose an only child. I deeply believe this and though there isn't research out there to confirm my feelings and thoughts, that doesn't mean what I feel and think isn't valid and true! Which is why I felt very honored that Kristen would contact me, ask me for feedback, and listen to what I have to say. What it did tell me is that my feelings and words were getting through in the blog, which ultimately makes me happy. Sure I write for myself, but my words have to serve a purpose. When I find that the blog resonates with someone, gets someone to think differently, or even makes someone feel understood, then these are all great gifts.

I did respond to Kristen's email just last week with some of my thoughts about the challenges of losing an only child. I see these differences within myself that I do not necessarily see in others (others who may have lost a child to cancer but have surviving children). Yes they are grieving for sure over the child they lost, their lives have been tragically altered, but it is different is all I can say. I do not want to disrespect these individuals in any way or speak for their grief. I can only speak for myself. I can only speak for the fact that I have no more Mother's Days. There are no milestones of any kind now to comment on, no graduations for any children, no child news of any kind to report, no reason to pull it together because there is no other child to support, there will be no high school graduations, no college to worry about, no weddings, no grand children, and no one to help me as I age. No one to inherit anything that I may have, and the list goes on. Get the picture?! There are big, big differences with losing an only child both emotionally, physically, financially, and you name it. These are just the tangible differences.

In line with this conversation, I was chatting back and forth today with my friend in cancer, who is also a mom who lost an only child to cancer. My friend was getting a test done at the hospital. While at the hospital she was in a room with two nurses who were having idyll conversation back and forth with each other in front of my friend. The subject matter of choice was Father's Day! Now to the average person such a topic would be harmless, but to us, this is anything but harmless or idyll. A part of me wonders..... would any mom who lost a child to cancer feel threatened by Father's Day conversation? Or is this something that mothers who lost an only child feel more bothered by?! I don't know, maybe this is a ridiculous question. But I do know that parents who lost onlys tend to have more extreme reactions to holidays and to what they lost and what is no longer present in their lives now, what life no longer looks like for them, and how it seems impossible to get back on any sort of track. Finding happiness for us is much harder because we lost our identity, in many cases our social network, and we are not only faced with the trauma and loss of a child but the crisis of who we are and what are own futures will look like. It is simply perplexing and all the while we have to navigate in a world where typical and everyday conversations set us off constantly! Constantly! At first I thought it was just me, but now when I see it through my friend in cancer's eyes, I see....... NO IT ISN'T ME! The problem isn't with me, or US, the problem lies with the hand we have been dealt. 

June 16, 2014

Monday, June 16, 2014

Monday, June 16, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2007. We took Mattie to Dutch Wonderland, a theme park in the heart of Amish Country (Pennsylvania) for Memorial Day weekend. This was Mattie's first roller coaster ride. I was quite scared that he went on this ride, since I am deathly afraid of roller coasters and have never been on one in my life! But Mattie wanted to try it, in fact he was intrigued! Not only did Mattie have a good time that day, but he went on the ride several times! This was where his love of roller coasters began, on Memorial Day 2007! I am so glad Peter loved roller coasters and that this was something they could do together! I know Peter was mapping out all sorts of parks around the Country to take Mattie to when he got older that had amazing roller coaster rides, but of course this adventure never came to fruition. 

Quote of the day: But what are loyalty and caring really worth? To me? Everything. ~ Richelle Mead


Today was a day of chores! Somehow I did everything but what I had set out to do. Which frustrated me to no end. On Thursday of this week, Peter and I are flying back to Columbus, Ohio. We have been invited to give a presentation about our National Initiative to create a psychosocial standard of care for childhood cancer. The Department of Health in the State of Ohio is very interested in hearing our talk and to have our presentation kick off their meeting, a meeting in which State officials will be discussing how to create a more comprehensive State cancer plan to address psychosocial issues. This is actually an historic meeting, because to the best of my knowledge no other State has a psychosocial cancer plan for pediatric patients. 

Coming back from vacation and getting ready for Ohio is one thing, but then I just learned last night that I apparently committed myself to give a two hour lecture on trauma and childhood cancer at the George Washington University on Saturday. Mind you I am flying to Ohio on Thursday and flying back on Friday evening. So Saturday's lecture was NO WHERE on my radar scope. Now I am scrambling to put this lecture together. The reason why this wasn't on my calendar is because this request came to me while I was in the midst of planning the Foundation Walk at the end of April. I remember when this request came to me I said that I would discuss the class and the specifics once my fundraiser was over. I never realized that the class date for me to present was already chosen and set! Somehow whatever little peace and rest I got while away, quickly dissipated today.     

Peter also continues to battle a horrific cough. So back on the phone today I went with the doctor's office. At this point, I am directing the doctor as to what I want, which is a chest x-ray of Peter's lungs. I want all things ruled out since antibiotics, sprays, and now inhalers aren't working! So hopefully tomorrow we move onto the x-ray. But for us, dealing with the medical community can be anxiety provoking and certainly returning to a hospital and getting any kind of scan is very challenging. Scans for us only ever meant one thing!

This afternoon, I snapped this photo of my kitchen window sill. It is something that I have looked at every day for years now. But today, I renamed my kitchen sill, my Margaret sill. Why? Because soon after Mattie died, Margaret began giving me these little angels. It became a thing between us, so much so that we used to exchange angels with each other. In a way, I think Margaret gave me the angels because she liked them. She collected them herself in her own home, but a part of her gave them to me as a symbol of Mattie watching over me. As my collection grew, I decided to put them on my window sill. I figured I would show them off, in hopes of them giving me strength and courage to make it through each day without Mattie. But in addition to the angels, Margaret also gave me a little boy angel made out of stone. Do you see him? He sits right next to the flower pot! Margaret got me this angel because she said he looked just like Mattie and when she saw him, she knew I needed to have him. Next to this boy angel is a flower pot. Mattie painted this flower pot in Margaret's class and he gave it to me for Mother's Day in 2006! In fact, the butterfly stick in the pot has his symbol on it, "Mattie Moon!" The butterfly suncatcher on the window and the silver metal moon hanging right next to it are also gifts from Margaret! I point all of this out because this is all by happenstance..... I did not decide one day to gather all of Margaret's gifts and assemble them together after she died. On the contrary. Margaret gave me these gifts to help me grieve the loss of Mattie! All these wonderful things have been in my home just like you see them, in this SAME arrangement for YEARS! I think what is eerie is what Margaret helped me put together to memorialize Mattie, I now also pause to reflect upon her, her life, the beauty of our friendship, and how my kitchen is filled with angels. In a way this is also a memorial to her. The significance of my window sill simply hit me today on so many levels. 

June 15, 2014

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken on Father's Day of 2007. Mattie was five years old and that day I decided to take Peter on a DC Ducks tour of Washington, DC. I figured it would be something both Peter and Mattie would enjoy since this particular bus does a land and aquatic tour. Literally with the bus driving into the Potomac River and transforming into a boat. Mattie loved the tour part but after the tour we decided to take Peter to lunch at a roof top restaurant in DC. That part did not go too well and somehow the afternoon which should have been special landed up feeling like we had been through a hurricane filled with emotions. At the time I thought that was a challenging Father's Day. Of course in comparison, seven years later, we evaluate Father's Day in a completely different light. Not having Mattie around and being able to share in the context of the day like most other parents in the world is a reality check. Holidays call out our differences in profound ways, which is why we usually avoid going out on these days. 


Quote of the day: When a father gives to his son, both laugh; when a son gives to his father, both cry. ~ William Shakespeare


Being away from our garden for a week, made today the perfect day to spend in it. It was a wonderful weather day to spend outside tending to all our plants and tomatoes. When we first moved to Washington, DC, years ago we purchased lilies. To this day, these lilies still bloom for us. Every year around Father's Day to be exact! Which is why we call them our "Father's Day Lilies!" Of course when we moved here, Peter wasn't a dad yet. When Mattie came into our lives, these lilies had a greater significance for us. They would open up as a Father's Day gift and Mattie enjoyed seeing this treat as well! Mattie is no longer around to call attention to these gifts for us, but today I had Peter take a photo of them! They are glorious!

Peter went to the grocery store this morning. When he came back he told me that people in the store wished him a happy Father's Day! I suppose it is natural to wish a man with a wedding ring, who is a certain age, a happy Father's Day! I know it happens to me if I go out on Mother's Day! If I should happen to be out. I of course do not react well to people wishing me a Happy Mother's Day! I feel mortally wounded, but when Peter told me the story, the first thing that came out of my mouth was..... "I am happy they wished you a Happy Father's Day! You are always a dad and were the best dad." I am not sure why I said that, because if someone said that to me, I most likely would have smacked them! It is ironic how I can interpret the comment for Peter and how I interpret the same thing quite differently for myself! I do not think I mean any harm for Peter, but I guess a part of me just feels like I want him to appreciate who he is or was. I can help him do that, whereas I can't do that for myself. It is too close to home. If that makes any sense at all. 

When we visited the Elizabethan Gardens in the Outer Banks, I mentioned that we bought a Ginger White Butterfly Lily! Well this is it! We repotted it today and it now sits on our deck. We shall see how it goes. The assistant manager of the garden told us that when it blooms it has an amazing flower with an intoxicating fragrance. I look forward to finding out. Either case this is a wonderful living memento from our trip.