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

November 29, 2014

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2008. Mattie was in the Hospital and as you can see a lot was happening in his small room. Posing with Mattie was Scooby Doo! Mattie loved Scooby, and Mattie had many Scooby visits while inpatient. Accompanying Scooby was Linda, Mattie's child life specialist. Linda and Mattie were close and I knew Linda understood Mattie, and Mattie trusted her to get his needs met. Peter and I needed was many allies as possible in the Hospital and we knew Linda was one of them who we could always turn to for help and advocacy!  


Quote of the day: In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich. ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer


On the property of the Hotel we were staying at for Thanksgiving was this wonderful stone "mansion." The Mansion dates back to 1905. The reason why I photographed the sign and the structure itself is because it has sentimental value to me. When I was 13, I had a confirmation party in the Mansion and then many, many years later, Peter and I had our rehearsal dinner for our wedding in The Mansion. 

The Mansion has a wonderful history. The Mansion, sometimes called "Red Oaks," was a countryside estate that belonged to John Carrere, a well known architect. Some of his famous works included the NY Public Library, the US House of Representatives and the US Senate. 



Every time we stay at this particular hotel and we see it change and be remodeled, it bothers me. Mainly because I know MORE about this hotel property than MOST of the people who actually work there. I have seen this hotel grow and be transformed over the decades. When my parents relocated to Los Angeles when I was in high school, we would visit New York frequently those first couple of years. When we did, we would stay in this hotel. Therefore I have experienced this hotel as a guest, my family hosted parties at this hotel, and of course when Peter and I visit New York on occasion now, we stay at this hotel. Therefore I have been involved with this Hotel for decades. Almost like a home away from home. So when you see a home change, it is hard to accept, especially when you do not view it as an improvement. 

The latest renovations involve a complete modernization of the hotel's entry way and restaurant. The new restaurant is called THE HIVE. Perfect name, because it is ALL A BUZZ!!! I honestly do not consider the Hive just a restaurant! It has become an all purpose room. It is where people gather, get drinks (at the bar), coffee/tea, and work on computers! It is a space that just doesn't know what it wants to be. Also you can watch TV there!!! The chairs are just as crazy. Mind you, you have to dine on these chairs! Some are actual stools with NO backs!! Trying to have breakfast or dinner on such a chair is a pip! Sure it looks hip, cool, and trendy!! But when push comes to shove it is a frenetic space and NOT inviting! I want to meet the architect who came up with this design!!!! 

As soon as I entered the hotel, I literally complained to the front desk. I told them I did not care for their recent remodel! She said that guests were raving about the new space! I figure they were raving because they did not know the old space. Here is what the old dining room looked like! I can't find a single photo on line to post on the Blog! The hotel must have scrubbed all the photos! So instead, this is a photo I took of Peter from a PREVIOUS visit to the hotel. You can see the dining room had amazing picture windows that looked out onto tranquil trees and grounds! It was like a hide away! Away from the hustle and bustle of our busy worlds. The dining room was spacious and people weren't on top of each other. There weren't TVs all around us while we were eating and it was simply a pleasurable experience. A totally different experience from what is happening above. 

As we drove back to Washington, DC today, many of the trees have already lost their leaves. But this wonderful grouping by the George Washington Bridge caught my attention. 






The George Washington Bridge speaks for itself! So does this whitish sky which to me shows you just how cold and frigid it was outside. 






Close up of the Bridge!








As we got closer to Maryland, we started to see bluer skies. Which was lovely. Usually in DC, I am used to being greeted with grey skies! 







I joked with Peter as we headed closer to Baltimore that I bet there would be a cruise ship in the Harbor today! Sure enough, as we came through the Fort McHenry Tunnel, I saw Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas! Some how that just reminded us of warmer weather despite the fact that it is winter and cold out. 

November 28, 2014

Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday, November 28, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken the the day after Thanksgiving in 2008. Mattie and Peter had a post-Thanksgiving tradition. They would create a wonderful Christmas light display in our commons area for everyone to see! When they first started it, it was a simple string of lights. Then with each subsequent year the design GREW and a mechanical creature also seemed to be added to the layout from year to year. In 2008, Mattie selected the dog you see in this photo to be added to the display! The dog looked just like Scooby Doo (a character he LOVED)! The display had mechanical reindeer, snowmen, candy canes, you name it! People from all over our complex would tell us how much they LOVED our display and in fact it would inspire neighbors to decorate their balconies. After Mattie died, the tradition of decorating our common space also died. 


Quote of the day: Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: The last of human freedoms - To choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances. To choose one's own way. Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to chose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. ~ Viktor Frankl

We took this photo last night right before Thanksgiving dinner. Pictured with me were my lifetime friend Karen, her mom, Naomi, and Naomi's friend Annette. 
(from left to right: Annette, Naomi, Karen, and Vicki)

I learned last night that one of Annette's son's was diagnosed with an inoperable form of brain cancer in March. So clearly though the type of cancer was different and the circumstances and age of her son also varied, Peter and I could very much relate to the psychosocial issues that her entire family are now facing and unfortunately will face for the rest of their lives. 

Now you maybe looking at this photo and saying.... what on earth is this??? I see trees and a wrought iron fence, right?!!! You would be correct!! As Peter was driving from our hotel to where Karen and her mom are, we passed this area. As soon as I saw it, I immediately flashed back in time to my childhood, to all the times I was sick and had to visit my pediatrician. I remember being in the back seat of the car and staring out the window of my mom's car and looking at wrought iron fences and dreading to have to see the doctor! So when Peter passed these fences, this is the feeling these fences evoked. Then I looked at the name of the street we were on and saw we were on "Bryant Avenue"....... I immediately text messaged my mom and asked her if my pediatrician was on Bryant Street in White Plains. She confirmed that I was indeed correct! I was a child and I haven't lived in NY for decades. So I honestly do not know my way around these streets anymore. I do not get the chance to return to where I grew up as a child much any more, but as Peter was driving around yesterday and today, it was like some roads seemed so familiar. I couldn't tell you their names, but I knew I had been on them before, and even as we passed one school, I told Peter..... "I swear I saw fireworks on the fourth of July there one year." 

Today we journeyed to Greenwich, CT, which isn't far from where we are staying in New York. About 17 miles!!! We visited the Bruce Museum and saw an exhibit entitled, "Northern Baroque Splendor: The Hohenbuchau Collection from: Liechtenstein. The Princely Collections, Vienna." Known as the “Golden Age” of Netherlandish art, the 17th century witnessed the birth of new genres of painting, from still life and landscape to scenes of everyday life. Indeed, by merging drama and dynamism with exacting naturalism and human sympathy, Northern Baroque artists created a new, enduringly compelling kind of painting. The Bruce Museum explores the variety and splendor of Northern Baroque Art across the 17th century. The Hohenbuchau Collection is one of the largest and most varied collections of Northern Baroque art assembled in recent years and is now on long-term loan from LIECHTENSTEIN, the Princely Collections, Vienna.  This selective showing at the Bruce Museum is the inaugural venue in the U.S. before it travels to Cincinnati.

Primarily comprised of Dutch and Flemish 17th century paintings, it exhibits all the naturalism, visual honesty and technical brilliance for which those schools are famous. While many modern collections of Old Masters specialize in a single style or subject matter, the Hohenbuchau Collection is admirable for offering examples of virtually all the genres (figures, landscapes, still lifes) produced by Lowland artists; the collection is distinguished for the many quality individual paintings executed by more than one artist, working in collaboration. 

There were 80 painting on display, I am showing four of the ones that caught my attention below!

"Temptation of Christ in a Broad Landscape" by Denys van Alsloot and Hendrick de Clerck ~ 1611

Hendrick de Clerck painted the figures and Denys van Alsloot painted the landscape and what made this a unique piece was they both signed this painting. This scene depicts the temptation of Christ in which Satan approached him dressed as a wily monk. There are many different scenes captured in this one painting! Another one was in the top left hand corner. Christ stands at the mountaintop surrounded by angels after refusing Satan's offer of the world's kingdoms in exchange for worship.

"The Holy Family Surrounded by a Garland of Roses" by Daniel Seghers and Simon de Vos

de Vos painted the Holy Family in the center, where Mary attends to needlework and Joseph chisels wood and Christ gathers good chips. While Segher's surrounding roses and ivy symbolizes Christian love and immortality. 

These roses are absolutely breathtaking and truly capture your attention from clear across a room! 

"Flowers in a vase, with a kingfisher and a lizard" by Jacob Marrell

This painting celebrates the tulip! Marrell was particularly drawn to the red and white striped tulip, which was rare and very expensive back then! This painting was done only two years before the famous "tulipomania" of 1636-37, when speculation of the bulb market reached dizzying heights and ruined many careers. Like many Dutch and Flemish Still Lifes, this bouquet could not have existed in reality in the 17th century because the various flowers depicted here were unable to bloom simultaneously (unlike today, in which we have access to flowers at any time of year, this wasn't the case back then, instead such a bouquet existed in one's mind ONLY). Therefore such paintings advertised the virtues and powers of these artists. 

"Forest floor still life with thistles, reptiles, frog, snail, butterflies, and other insectsby Otto Marseus van Schrieck

What captures one's attention about this Flemish painting is the incredible use of luminosity and the fluorescent effect of the content portrayed within them! It was as if these butterflies were going to fly off the canvas and into the room! They were that beautifully done. Just vibrant, colorful, and aglow. So many of these paintings within this exhibit chase your attention because of their technique, color, and lighting. True works of art. 

Wind Formation, Victoria Lower Glacier

In 2012, Diane Tuft traveled to Antarctica after receiving a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Artists and Writers Program. Her images chronicle the extraordinary results of that expedition with stunning photographs that capture Antarctica’s raw, untouched splendor with colors, textures, and compositions that verge on the surreal. 


This is a photo of the Invertebrates found in the Antarctic waters! This wouldn't my cup of tea, but Mattie would have loved seeing these creatures in their jars! Mattie would have also appreciated the room devoted to feeding live crabs and horse shoe crabs at the museum! This was actually a very informative session in which we got to see how horse shoe crabs, whelk shells, and even clams and oysters process and eat food. 

Vicki, Karen, and Naomi on Greenwich Avenue in downtown historic Greenwich, Connecticut! Mind you it was 32 degrees and freezing! Yet we were out walking in it. 








I was the worst out of all of us, needing a break from the cold. So we ducked into a store to get warm! We landed up in a huge store that featured fine china, household items of all kinds and these adorable holiday displays. 



Also on our adventure today, we drove through the exclusive community of Belle Haven! This is where I would say the life style of the Rich and Famous live! The houses are beautiful and tucked into this private and exclusive community is this charming and old world Inn, the Thomas Henkelmann Homestead Inn. http://www.homesteadinn.com/index.php

November 27, 2014

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2008. Mattie's school counselor gave him this cute turkey hat in celebration of Thanksgiving and as soon as he saw it, he put it on his head. Mattie had a great sense of humor and spirit about him. Even under the most trying of circumstances. With that said, there were times he would get very down and depressed. We would need to pull him out of these dark places which took super human strength, strength which in many cases we did not feel we always possessed. However, we understood what was at stake and also realized what Mattie was enduring.


Quote of the day: It is literally true, as the thankless say, that they have nothing to be thankful for. He who sits by the fire, thankless for the fire, is just as if he had no fire. Nothing is possessed save in appreciation, of which thankfulness is the indispensable ingredient. But a thankful heart hath a continual feast. W.J. Cameron



I am posting today's blog early because Peter and I are driving to New York to visit my lifetime friend, Karen, and her mom. I will be writing from New York on Friday. We wish our readers a good Thanksgiving. I am well aware that the holidays are not a joyous and happy time for everyone. Especially for those who have lost a loved one and those who maybe struggling with other hardships. In fact, holidays have a way of only adding fuel to the fire. 

Holidays can make us feel like outliers from the norm. We can get lost in the hustle and bustle of the season. People talk about their parties, writing cards, shopping, and so forth. In many ways these "tasks" as others may call them are just little reminders of the things we do not have on our "to do list" and aren't invited to do anymore. If you are one of these outliers, you really aren't alone. There are others of us! It is just not talked about openly because such dialogue, in a social setting, is an immediate conversation stopper and makes other people uncomfortable. Any thing out of the norm or perceived as different is a head turner. But meeting another parent who marched to her own drum last weekend at the Special Love retreat was helpful for me. I just wish there was a way that us 'outliers' could be able to have our feelings heard and embraced by society, so that we could better integrate and share in the lives of people we once knew. But this takes work on both sides. Not just the outlier/griever. 

To our friends and supporters of Mattie Miracle, we are deeply grateful and thankful to you for supporting the Foundation five years and counting! Have a peaceful and meaningful day. 

November 26, 2014

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2002. Mattie was seven months old. This was one of my favorite Fall photos of Mattie and me. I loved his "puppy" hat that he was wearing and the oak tree behind us has significance for us later in life. That tree supplied leaves for all the tent moth caterpillars Mattie brought home in the spring from his school playground. We would feed them and care for them long enough until they formed their cocoons, metamorphosed into moths, and released them on our deck! 


Quote of the day: Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow. ~ Edward Sandford Martin


I snapped a photo of our beautiful Christmas Cactus that is in our living room! This plant clearly is slightly off and a bit confused since it is Thanksgiving and NOT Christmas. But nonetheless, it is an amazing sight! These plants can be temperamental! I had a Christmas Cactus in the past that bloomed once and then never bloomed again, and then died! This one seems to be hardy and a real producer. It comes back every year! 

As I mentioned in last night's blog I finally got around to filling our bird feeders! Just in time, since today it began to slightly snow and the temperature seemed cold and raw! What I worried about was the new location of the feeders! Our sparrows have been used to the feeders hanging on our deck! This year I moved them to our commons area! This morning, the birds were all a flutter! They were outside my office window making a racket. They wanted to be fed. I wasn't sure how exactly to communicate to them that I understood they were frustrated with me but that the feeders were there and FILLED. They were in 'line up mode' as I call it, on the wall staring at me. Perched and waiting for me to address their needs. Then all of a sudden one of them did a fly over and caught glimpse of the new bird feeder set up..... and that was it. This bird signaled the rest, and the feeding frenzy began. They come swooping down at the feeders in packs! We have three feeders hanging from hooks. But by the end of today, all three feeders are half full! They are very hungry creatures and we go through a great deal of bird seed every two weeks! 

I am quite sure I feed the same sparrows year to year. Some sparrows can live up to 15 years. I would almost bet that some of these sparrows I started to feed around the time Mattie was an infant. After all, I began this past time, around the time Mattie was born. I was spending a lot of time at home then and it gave us something to do in the winter months and a way for us to engage with nature. Mattie loved it and then we just continued it year after year. Because we have done this for SO long, the pack continues to grow bigger with each year. I enjoyed seeing them come back today, and it is the only part of winter I like. 

November 25, 2014

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 -- Mattie died 272 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2008. That day a friend of mine from the University came over to visit us with her wonderful dog, Jax. Though Jax was much larger than Mattie, he was very kind and gentle and Mattie took to him right away. In this particular photo they were having a chasing game. Carrie was running around with Jax, and Peter was pushing Mattie in his wheelchair. As you can see Mattie was getting a kick out of this and smiling!!! Being outside and in the fresh air was always a positive and wonderful experience for Mattie. This was something I learned early on, back in Mattie's infant days! 


Quote of the day: In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence. Robert Lynd


Last week, when I went downstairs in my building to do laundry, my neighbor from upstairs asked me when I was going to start feeding the birds. She could see that my sparrows were coming back (they disappear during the summer months) and were flitting around our deck outside in search of food. I always find it amazing how these sparrows return every winter to the same location to be fed! They come to the same hooks, typically where I hang the feeders in the winter time! However, during the summer, the hooks have wind chimes on them. So you can't say that they have seen the feeders out all summer. They haven't!!! They just know by instinct to return to the place they have been fed from the winter before!  

This year, I decided NOT to feed the birds on our deck! Mainly because they made such a mess last year. I couldn't keep up with it. So instead, after my 85 year old friend Mary died, I claimed her bird feeder hooks and put them in my commons area. As Mary was dying, I bought her this bird feeder garden hook. I figured this would be a nice thing for her and her caregivers to look at while bed bound in her final days. To me listening to birds is very peaceful. The garden area in our common space, I have turned into a memorial garden in a way to Mattie. These are all bushes he planted with Peter's help when he was a little guy. They were tiny at one time and now they are all five feet or taller. So Mary's garden hooks seem to fit in nicely in this tribute garden, as I think of her and Mattie every time I look out my window from my office space. 

I suspect that our garden in the spring and summer brings our neighbors happiness and our birds in the winter also brings them a sense of life and closer to nature. However, I am always amazed when people stop to tell me about it. In fact while I was filling up the feeders today, another neighbor came to talk to me about how much she appreciates how Peter and I beautify our commons area and that we are the reason for the bird traffic being around our complex. She meant this as a high compliment. We live in the heart of the city, therefore attracting greenery and nature isn't always easy, but we work hard at it and I do think it makes a difference to one's peace of mind, body, and spirit. Which maybe why I find winter so incredibly depressing and stifling.

November 24, 2014

Monday, November 24, 2014

Monday, November 24, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2008. Mattie constructed this pirate ship with Peter's help. In typical Mattie fashion he added a flair to the ship by putting a Christmas bell on top of the sails to spread holiday cheer to those of us in the room or who entered the room. Mattie loved Christmas bells and we used to have many of them all over the place! He would even wear a few around the hospital. I am not sure where he got his spirit from.... because the majority of us if faced with his disease, I believe would be struggling to be as gracious, kind, or joyous.


Quote of the day: The person who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The person who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever seen before. ~ Albert Einstein


As Thanksgiving is approaching in a few short days, I realize that this is our sixth holiday without Mattie. Almost as many holidays as the number of years Mattie was alive and a part of our lives. It is almost too hard to grasp that soon Mattie will be dead almost as many years as he was alive. This is yet another difference between the loss of a child and an adult. Of course any loss of a loved one is profoundly wrong and deeply upsetting. But the loss of a child is chronologically confusing, very unnatural, and alters one's hope for a future. 

I will never forget Thanksgiving of 2008, as I know neither will Peter. It wasn't a happy occasion. We were home from the hospital, recovering from Mattie's limb salvaging surgeries. Like most institutions, the mindset was to try to get you home for the holidays if possible. Of course getting us home was no picnic..... you might as well have left us in the hospital! Mattie was absolutely miserable at home. He was in pain and dealing with depression and signs of trauma. I remember we tried tuning into the Macy's parade to distract him. That too was a nightmare! To this day, I not only won't watch the parade, I don't even like hearing the mention of it. It brings me right back to Thanksgiving 2008. I can remember that moment in time, just like a flashback of pain and torture. Peter and I were desperate that day, and it seemed as if we were fighting in our own battlefield.... accept the enemy couldn't be seen. We felt helpless, hopeless, and with great despair. 

In addition to dealing with pain, depression, and trauma, Mattie also had a huge ulcer on his tail bone around Thanksgiving time. Since Mattie was wheelchair and bed bound this was a serious problem. A problem because if his skin opened up and got an infection this would prevent him from being able to continue on his chemotherapy protocol. Of course not being able to get his chemotherapy on time would mean that his cancer could potentially run rampant in his body. As it was, his body was off of chemotherapy at that point in time to recover post surgery, so we did not want to delay it any longer than necessary. The goal during Thanksgiving was to prevent the ulcer from opening up and we were required to send our oncologist a photo of Mattie's tail bone EVERY day! Every aspect of Mattie's care was down right overwhelming and in so many ways what we were asked to manage put us truly on par with developing nursing skills. After all, we were flushing IV lines, changing bandages, doing dressing changes of central lines, administering all sorts of medications, and the list went on! 

As the holiday season approaches all over the Internet LISTS begin to pop up about how to survive if you lost a loved one! I understand the nature of why lists are formed, mainly because holidays are challenging times for those of us who suffered a loss. They can be true set backs. They aren't wonderful times, they do not necessarily make us feel joyous, happy, and with the desire to rekindle traditions and unite with family and friends. In fact, those traditions can set us off in many ways. But what I do find most irritating is that these lists seem so trite to me. Almost like a recipe.... if you follow these ingredients, you are certain to feel better! Wrong on many counts. Sure they supply ideas, and they maybe open ended, but when push comes to shove, lists are prescriptive. What I have come to know about myself after five years dealing with Mattie's loss is that you can't be prescriptive with me. As soon as you start telling me..... you should, or maybe consider this..... YOU HAVE LOST ME!!!! 

Fortunately this past weekend, I met another mom who like Einstein's quote aptly puts it, "walks alone" like me. It isn't an easy place to be because it would much easier to follow the norm and what convention tells us to be, feel, and do. But in the end, that doesn't fit me, my personality, nor truly absorbs or understands the magnitude of my feelings or loss.    

November 23, 2014

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2008. Mattie was beginning to take piano lessons right before he was diagnosed with cancer. Mattie loved music and though he really did not understand theory or how to read music, Mattie wanted to create musical pieces off the top of his head. Noise never bothered me! Even when he was a toddler, he would have all his toys on at the same time..... making a racket, and that wouldn't bother me. The only thing that got to me was tantrums, crying, and screaming. Which Mattie did a ton of. But mechanical noises, toys, and piano banging did not phase me back then. 


Quote of the day: A person who does many things differently and often independently makes perhaps the biggest difference of the highest significance for the greatest excellence in everyone's life.Anuj Somany



Today Peter and I spent the day catching up on chores and doing work. It seems to be our primary mode of operation and certainly how we cope with difficult days and approaching holidays. I do realize though I am extremely tired, which is why tonight's blog is short to non-existent.