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

July 28, 2012

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2008 at Roosevelt Island. This picture was taken about a week before Mattie was diagnosed with cancer. As was typical of our weekends, we always went for walks. Feeding ducks was something Mattie loved to do, I literally saved old bread and crackers for just these outings.

Quote of the day: Whoever undertakes to set himself up as judge in the field of truth and knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.~ Albert Einstein

Since May, I have wanted to go to the Titanic exhibit at the National Geographic Museum. An exhibit acknowledging the 100 year anniversary of the ship's sinking on April 15, 1912. I have always been intrigued by the Titanic, and I know I am not alone, clearly, since the exhibit is entitled, "Titanic 100 Year Obsession."

Einstein's quote tonight seems very appropriate considering the exhibit we saw today. The White Star Line was quite sure that its Titanic was unsinkable, so much so that history reports passengers being told that even "God couldn't sink the Titanic." I relate deeply to the Titanic's story because what this tragedy shows us is that our fate and destiny are truly out of our control. The builders of the Titanic lost the needed humility and awareness needed to thrive in this world. I say that because when you reflect on the fact that this massive ship was only equipped with 20 lifeboats, not enough to even rescue half of the passengers, you have to wonder. It was almost like they were tempting fate.

I believe the reason why this exhibit is being featured this year at the National Geographic Museum, is that the first to unveil images of the ship's wreck was National Geographic's own explorer Robert Ballard in 1985. I learned today that Dr. Ballard had a fascination with submarines and the ocean as a little boy. Fortunately growing up in San Diego gave him access to study at some of the best oceanographic institutes. Ballard wanted to locate the Titanic wreckage, however, that wasn't the main purpose of his expedition in 1985 which led to its finding. Unbeknownst to some, this trip was financed by the U.S. Navy for secret reconnaissance of the wreckage of two Navy nuclear powered attack submarines, the USS Scorpion and the USS Thresher, which sank in the 1960s. Back in 1982, Ballard approached the Navy about his new deep sea underwater robot craft, the Argo, and his search for Titanic. The Navy was not interested in financing the search for the large ocean liner. However, they were interested in finding out what happened to their missing submarines and ultimately concluded that Argo was their best chance to do so. The Navy agreed it would finance Ballard's Titanic search only if he first searched for and investigated the two sunken submarines, and found out the state of their nuclear reactors after being submerged for such a long time, and whether their radioactivity was impacting the environment. Ballard was placed on temporary active duty in the Navy, in charge of finding and investigating the wrecks. After the two missions were completed, time and funding permitting, Ballard was free to use resources to hunt for Titanic. What you should note however is that the two submarines sunk in close proximity to the Titanic. To the rest of the world, however Ballard's trip was promoted solely as a search for the Titanic, and not as a reconnaissance mission to determine the state of affairs of a sunken submarine with nuclear weapons aboard.

This is the sign that greets you as you enter the exhibit.

There was a wall filled with all sorts of movie posters featuring the Titanic. I am not sure what the fascination is with the sinking of this ship, yet I know I have one. I find it absolutely frightening what the passengers aboard this ship had to endure and marvel at the resilience of those who survived such a nightmare.

This is a photo of the Ship's hull with massive propellers. The people standing next to the Ship's hull puts the size of the Titanic into perspective.

This poster was entitled, "Building the Titanic." It explains that competition was the motive for creating this large vessel, a vessel which was built for speed, size, luxury, and reliability. It was hoped that the Titanic would capture the minds and hearts of the wealthy but also those who wanted to leave their own countries in search of a better way of life.

A sample menu was on display. The Titanic had three social classes aboard the ship: first, second, and third (or sometimes referred to as steerage). These classes were separated with actual doors or gate, they did not mingle, nor did they share the same decks, dining rooms, cabin floors, or common areas. When I first saw this printed menu, I made the assumption this was for first class passengers. However, upon further inspection Peter and I think this was a second class menu, especially since the menu indicates at the bottom that beer is $3 or $6 a tankard.

These are some interesting facts about the supplies needed to keep the Titanic operational for her passengers and crew.

This is how luggage was brought aboard the Ship. The process looks very different today, since so much of it involves machines and is automated now. Back in 1912, each piece of luggage was hand carried onto the Titanic. Take a look at the size of these TRUNKS!
This was an advertisement geared toward 3rd class passengers. If you look at the sample room on the poster, it had two sets of bunk beds in it, and between the beds was a toilet and sink!

Whereas, here was an example of a first class cabin.

This was a copy of the SOS radio-telegram that was received regarding the Titanic. The first line says, "SOS from MGY." MGY was Titanic's call sign in Morse code.
Peter and I both had the opportunity today to sit down in front of a machine and try to do Morse Code. We had this sign in front of us which indicates how letters are replaced by certain dots and dashes, but I can tell you trying to tap out these dots and dashes precisely on the machine is NOT easy.

Peter took a picture of this poster because I was fascinated by the explanation for the lack of lifeboats aboard the Titanic. I also find it interesting that when the Captain ordered the evacuation of women and children first, this directive had two different interpretations by his crew. Which was why some male passengers actually survived.

These next two posters I think are haunting. This poster acknowledges the number of people saved aboard the Titanic that night.

As you can see the sinking of the Titanic caused a great loss of life. However, if you compare both the numbers saved with the numbers lost, you will notice that a majority of women and children made it off the ship and were saved by the Carpathia. Also note that there were ONLY 23 women crew members aboard the ship, the rest were men.  
Thanks to Dr. Ballard, the debris field of the Titanic was mapped out and he was able to declare with certainty that the ship did break into two while sinking. The bow and stern of the ship landed 1970 feet apart from each other on the ocean's floor.

No one really knows why the Titanic sank. There are many theories out there, and this poster captured a few. Despite it feeling like 100 degrees today, the three mile walk to and from the museum was well worth the trip.

July 27, 2012

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday, July 27, 2012

Tonight's picture was taken on July 27 of 2008. Which makes it four years ago today, and also five days after Mattie was diagnosed with cancer. Mattie was outside on our deck, sitting inside the cover of his sandbox. Looking at this picture you would think that Mattie always loved sitting and playing in the sand. However, this couldn't be further from the truth. Mattie despised sandboxes until he entered preschool. By age four, Mattie was in one with the sand, and he loved his frog sandbox. The sandbox now sits outside our deck door, and several children in our complex come play in it. I can hear them playing through my windows and it reminds me of my days outside on the deck with Mattie.

Quote of the day: There are two things a person should never be angry at, what they can help, and what they cannot. ~ Plato

I wore this cardio-monitor all day today, and I have to say, I can't stand it. It is not physically uncomfortable, but it is hearing the beeps and noises that puts me on edge. I find that what the machine is unconsciously doing is conditioning me NOT to press the record button so that I can avoid hearing the sounds. Which of course defeats the purpose of wearing the monitor in the first place. Two weeks of this seems beyond difficult!

As I mentioned previously on the blog, I have become connected electronically to a mom who lost a three year old child ten years ago. Ironically this mom contacted me originally not because of our common losses or because of the Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation. She contacted me about a professional licensure board question. When I responded to her, she saw in my automatic electronic signature at the bottom of my emails, Mattie's blog address. After reading parts of the blog, she wrote back to me and acknowledged my loss as well as hers. This mom is much further along in the grief process than I am, but the point is, she is still grieving, and confirms to me that losing a child, even if you have other children as she does, is a lifetime endeavor. Many of the moms I know who are grieving are in parallel with me, meaning we all lost our children around the same time. Hearing insights from someone ten years into this is insightful and it is my hope in time to get this mom's permission to post some of her reflections on this blog. It is insightful because it confirms some of my feelings about grief and loss. For example, over time I have felt that some people expect me just to bounce back and to have gotten over the loss. This mom expressed the same frustration and told me some of her struggles four years into her grieving process. Needless to say, it helped me see that I am not alone, that those of us out there who are living this nightmare can relate to each other and we are speaking the same language. This knowledge is of great comfort to me, and it helps to make a very difficult situation seem a bit more normal. Because I have to admit it is hard to be different and at times feel misunderstood, or even worse looked upon as something being wrong with me because I am not over Mattie's death! Grief is not like a cold or the flu, there are no quick fixes or cures!

The highlight of my day was reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I am saddened to know that the author who wrote this book died and that this was her only novel. Yet what a magnificent piece to memorialize her gift as a writer. I feel like I am getting an appreciation for Guernsey, a Channel Island, and how difficult living in an occupied Country during World War II must have been like. Yet what captures my attention is despite great adversities the passion and hope of the human spirit shines through in amazing human connections. In addition, I also find it inspiring how friends can be made through the establishment of a book club, and how reading books for each of the club's members was actually therapeutic! It makes you want to go out and start a book club, however, to me a book club is a lot like a support group. In order for it to work well, the right mixture and dynamics between people must exist. Needless to say, the book has a magical way through its diary format of capturing your attention and transporting you back to the 1940s. Which in the midst of dealing with cardio-monitoring is a welcomed escape.

July 26, 2012

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2008, a week before Mattie was diagnosed with cancer. Mattie appeared happy and healthy, and was experiencing what any child at 6 years of age would be dealing with..... losing a tooth! Mattie was showing me that his bottom tooth was loose and wiggling and within minutes of this photo he pulled it out of his mouth on his own!!! Mattie made all sorts of deals with the tooth fairy. Actually he would write her a note, requesting certain things, and put it with his tooth under his pillow. Mattie never requested money. He wanted hot wheels cars mostly, and one time he requested a necklace made out of uncooked pasta! Don't ask!!!!

Quote of the day: Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race. ~  Calvin Coolidge

I spent the day doing chores at home and working on Foundation items. Later in the day, I ventured back to Virginia Hospital Center for a cardiology appointment. I am happy that all the doctors I am seeing are taking my symptoms seriously and are doing one test after another to rule things out. For the next two weeks I am wearing a looping event monitor. The monitor itself basically looks like a small doctor's beeper/pager, and it has two electrodes coming out of it that have to be attached to my chest. The fun part however is each time I feel palpitations or my heart fluttering, I have to press a button on the monitor. The ironic part is when you press the button, a terrible alarm sound goes off for minutes NOT SECONDS. I told the nurse today that if you don't have palpitations, you most definitely will once this alarm goes off. The unfortunate part is the data from this monitor doesn't go back to the doctor's office wirelessly. Instead in order for the doctor to see my recorded episode, I have to call a number from a land line phone of all things, and hold the monitor to the phone. When the monitor is pressed again the phone, you have to press a "send" button, and the sound that this transmission makes is ridiculous and lasts for minutes. Forget being discreet with this monitor, it seems to me that the person who designed this thing thinks that one only has palpitations at home. Because being at work or out in public with this monitor could prove to be interesting especially when the buttons are pressed. The noise will capture the attention of anyone nearby!

While waiting in the doctor's office I began reading a book my parents sent me, entitled, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Though they sent it to me days ago, with my headaches it was impossible to read or concentrate on anything. As I was in the doctor's waiting room today, I began reading and immediately saw that the book is not written in a typical chapter fashion. It reads more like a diary, with one letter or correspondence between people after another. That might not seem like that would work, but it is actually very intimate and engaging. So I have already been swept up into the world of 1946, and am intrigued by the main character in the book. Juliet is a writer, and living in post World War II England. She is desperate to find something interesting to write about for her next column/book and then finds it through a letter someone sent her. The man who wrote the letter to her was a member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. The title of the book sounds delicious to me, but I am all about food! The book's descriptions about rationing and what living through WWII were like are fascinating, but I can already see why I like it because it captures the connections between and about people beautifully. Also it gives you a glimpse into a small but meaningful island off the coast of England, named Guernsey!  

July 25, 2012

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2009. The last birthday I celebrated with Mattie. Mattie, with the help of Peter's parents, created this lighthouse birthday card for me. They all know I am a lighthouse affectionato, and receiving this from Mattie was a special birthday gift I will always remember. As a parent, I looked forward to celebrating occasions with Mattie. I wasn't looking for gifts, I simply liked his excitement and his desire to want to be festive. In a way, with Mattie's death this aspect of our lives has also died. Birthdays and holidays don't seem as meaningful, memorable, or important.

Quote of the day: Love is a fabric that never fades, no matter how often it is washed in the waters of adversity and grief. ~ Anonymous

Today was my birthday, and for me, celebrating is challenging. Yet my friend Mary's birthday was also this week, so we agreed to go to lunch today and celebrate each other. Somehow that seemed better and despite how awful I have been feeling lately, I wanted to see Mary and acknowledge her birthday. I met Mary at Mattie's preschool in 2006, and though we did not know each other well when our children were at school, we have certainly gotten the chance to get to know each other through Mattie's battle with cancer. Mary and I get together now on a regular basis for coffee or lunch, and I appreciate her kindness, warmth, compassion, and friendship. 

My running joke with people who live in Alexandria City is that you can't go out shopping or to a restaurant without bumping into someone you know! For me, who lives in DC, this is a rarity! While I was out with Mary, I bumped into my friends Honey and Tamra. I am not sure what the chances of such encounters are, but seeing Honey and Tamra reminded me of Team Mattie's diversity, since Honey and I were connected through my work at the George Washington University, and Tamra and I were connected through Mattie's elementary school. Yet when Mattie got sick, all these communities united, and some of these people remain friends today because of their work supporting Mattie during his cancer battle.

Later in the day, I went to visit Ann's mom, Mary. I am not sure everyone would elect to spend their birthday in an assisted living facility, but since I knew Mary was going to be by herself this evening, I decided to visit. Since I never know if Mary will be talking or mute, I always come armed with a newspaper. Besides my newspaper, I went shopping for Mary today. Mary's caregiver calls me "the lotion lady." Mainly because I try to buy fragrant lotions and things to make Mary's room smell nice, and when I assess that Mary's supply is dwindling, I buy more. No one asks me to do this, but I try to place myself in Mary's shoes, and there is so little now that she can do or that brings her joy. So to me a gift that impacts one of the senses is crucial! When I arrived today, Mary immediately noticed the shopping bag I was carrying and wanted to know what was in it. So I took out all the items I bought her, we smelled each one, and then before I left her this evening, our ritual is that I massage her hands and arms with lotion. A ritual I can tell she appreciates, even if she can't verbalize it. Being appreciated and needed are special gifts in and of itself, and whether Mary can say it or not, I know she appreciates my company.

When I walked into Mary's room this evening, I was greeted with presents from Ann, Mary, and Shayla. Shayla is Mary's caregiver. I most certainly wasn't expecting a gift from Shayla, which maybe why it meant so much to me. Shayla's gift included the three balloons you see here in my dining room, as well as another gift. The balloons immediately caught my attention when I walked into Mary's room, especially since Mattie was a BIG balloon fan! Certainly the balloons and Shayla's gift are so appreciated, but it was the message attached to the balloons that I deeply cherish. I cherish it because Shayla and I have only known each other for three years. We unite over the care and friendship of Mary. Yet in the process of our time together she was able to deduce that one of the more painful things about birthdays now is that they do not include Mattie. She not only deduced this, but then acted upon her thinking as she created a gift for me. In many ways I look at her gift today as a symbol of what Mattie would have potentially given me if he were still alive. It was the gift of a red balloon and loving words. Words that weren't expected, which is why to me they are so genuine and heartfelt. Shayla wrote........Happy birthday Vicki! The red balloon symbolizes Mattie's favorite color. I'm sure he would have loved to have given you, his mother, a red balloon on your birthday. So the red balloon is in remembrance of your son Mattie. The smiley face balloon symbolizes your smile. You have the kind of smile that brightens up a room, the kind of smile that says everything will be okay. You truly make the world a better place by offering your genuine smile, so please keep on smiling no matter what!

When I left Mary's assisted living facility, I got into my car and then looked out the windshield. What I wished I captured better in this photo was hundreds of dragon flies dancing all around. Immediately I had the feeling that this was a birthday greeting from Mattie.

To all of you who either called, wrote an email, sent me a card, or sent me a gift, I thank you! Thank you for trying to make my day special. I would like to end tonight's posting with a message I received from my mom.

Happy Birthday Vicki by Virginia R. Sardi

With your birthday approaching, it felt like the right time to acknowledge the importance of Mattie's blog which is a living symbol of your devotion to him and share with you my thoughts of why it continues to attract a wide audience of mesmerized readers long after his death in September 2009. With the power of words, you have captured your deepest feelings vividly portraying the pathos and despair of what it is like to lose a son and what it is like to go on in life without him. Writing a daily blog is an affirmation of the love that remains in your heart for Mattie and your way of keeping his memory alive. Deep introspection into why and how Mattie's life ended before it began has transformed you into a philosophical warrior with creative new insight into how most of us take for granted the good things given to us in life. The harrowing story of Mattie's battle with cancer and how you tried desperately to save him while living with dimming hope for his recovery puts common everyday problems in perspective and gives parents of healthy children a much needed reality check that they as harried individuals coping with everyday life sometimes overlook. Such reflection often brings a better perspective and sense of priorities back into focus. Parents reading Mattie's blog come away with a better outlook on their lives realizing by comparison how good they really have it even though they may face challenges that at times appear daunting. Above all, they count their blessings that they are the parents of healthy children who in the natural cycle of life can be expected to outlive them.

I recall having a philosophical conversation with a friend some time ago and we concluded that facing life and mountain climbing had a lot in common. As you go through life, you find you will encounter a problematic situation that absorbs all your attention. You focus all your strength on figuring out how to resolve it with the underlying thought that if you can own up to that challenge, the crisis will have passed and you will have successfully gotten over the "mountain" and back to level ground. You mistakenly think that once it is resolved then life can be lived happily ever after. That is not the way it works in real life. What really happens is that you run into a series of mountains that challenge you over time and when you finish climbing one, breathe a sigh of relief that you have found greener pastures and things worked out as you hoped, your "nirvana" of the moment though intoxicating may alas prove to be only a temporary "fix." For on the horizon, another mountain, higher and more fearful rears its ugly head and you may be confronted with a more formidable mountain to climb. On and on it goes with small and big issues that arise over a lifetime, one mountain after another. With hindsight most of the problems you faced appeared more awesome than they really were and some were mere "piffles" just "molehills" not worth a single gray hair. You laugh at them in retrospect. But, occasionally however, Mount Everest does appear in a lifetime of ups and downs and unfortunately when it does, it creates an upheaval like an earthquake, with devastation and disaster in its wake. That was the mountain you were forced to climb when Mattie was diagnosed with cancer. All other mountains pale in comparison and your readers are made aware of that in Mattie's blog and your remarkable story that tells of a happy family transformed into cancer warriors to wage the battle of life and death with tragic consequences. Your talent for telling your story in plain, unadulterated prose is a gift not only to parents, friend and family but anyone who has found your website and has gained insight through your own compelling human drama. Mattie's blog will be read long after we are all gone for it has the ring of tragedy that speaks to pain that can be universally understood. It is a story that puts the rest of life into an appropriate three dimensional perspective. You depict the challenges faced by parents who advocate for their children in seeking quality medical care in a complex system that produces both benefits and risks that must be carefully weighed before committing them to invasive medical treatments or allowing them to be exposed to unintended dangerous side-effects when permitting them to participate in experimental medical trials. Your research, insights and your professional counseling background come together to give your readers daily examples of the importance they should place on identifying with their children in good times and bad, finding their needs and promoting their interests and in all things showing reverence and respect for good judgment on their behalf. Love of Mattie, commitment to his memory through Mattie's blog have made a difference in many lives and will continue to be a beacon of light that will touch and change hearts everywhere your story is told. There are no limits to its reach since wherever the Internet is accessible around the world; there will be potential new followers of Mattie's blog. You should be very proud of your role in educating your audience and how your talents empowered you to make this happen. Happy Birthday to you, a born writer as the late Miss Van Epps, one of your favorite English teachers told me a long time ago! Was she ever so right!! Happy Birthday and many more healthy happy ones!!!

July 24, 2012

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 -- Mattie died 150 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2008. The boat you see floating in our tub, was one of the first boats Mattie created in clinic with Jenny and Jessie (Mattie's art therapists). This photo was taken during the week Mattie was diagnosed with cancer. We weren't sure if we were coming or going that week, and yet in the midst of chaos, we had these funny moments. In fact, despite  living with a great deal of horror in the hospital, the beauty of Mattie's spirit produced a lot of special and memorable moments for us to reflect upon.

Quote of the day: When you do the best you can, you never know what miracle is wrought in your life, or the life of another. ~ Helen Keller

Peter and I both record and keep track of Mattie's loss from our lives in different ways. For example, I count Mattie's loss in weeks, with each week beginning on a Tuesday. The day of the week Mattie died. So for me today marks 150 weeks since Mattie's death. Whereas Peter counts in days, and as such today Mattie has been gone from our lives 1050 days. Whether it is in weeks or days, the point is we know time is passing.

This morning, I received an email from my friend Patty. Patty's son also battled osteosarcoma, and in so many ways he continues to battle the ramifications of being treated for this disease. Though our paths have been different, Patty and I both know the horror this particular cancer can wreak on a developing body and mind. What I did not realize was Patty's son was diagnosed with cancer in the month of July too and therefore this is a month we both shall never forget. What are the chances of such commonalities? A diagnosis of osteosarcoma and for the diagnosis to happen in the later part of July?!!! Patty's email got me thinking because we adamantly feel that no matter the cancer or the outcome, we appreciate the presence of our children in our lives. ABSOLUTELY! Naturally Patty was asking for my input on this, since I would be sharing my feelings from the perspective of a mother grieving the loss of a child to cancer, not as a mother of a cancer survivor.

The question in essence becomes................ if I could live my life all over again, knowing that Mattie would get sick and die, would I still want to have Mattie? The simple answer is YES, but it is a complicated yes. Because despite my best attempts on this blog to explain what Mattie had to endure and how he suffered even in his death, I am not sure the magnitude of this could ever truly be conveyed to you exactly unless you lived and breathed what we witnessed. Seeing such pain and agony, leaves one to question if this is really the kind of life one would want to wish on a child? From my standpoint as Mattie's mom, I gained a great deal in seven short years. Mattie taught me a lot, we shared a lot, we had similar personalities and feelings, and so not having Mattie would mean denying the life within myself. Which I suspect is what makes the loss unbearable at times. In so many ways, Mattie and I were each other's fiercest advocates, and we appreciated each other in ways that went beyond words. We simply got each other, and this type of connection comes along rarely if ever. So I can't imagine my life without Mattie being in it at all. 

I have had several email exchanges with a mom who lives in Singapore. She lost her child ten years old. However, she let me know that in so many ways it has taken her ten years to come to a place in which such a loss doesn't seem to consume and eat her up inside. However, what she wrote intrigued me, because she feels there is a lesson to be learned in her son's death. I do think that in losing a child we look for the lesson, the meaning, the reason. There has to be a greater purpose for this suffering! We need to put such a profound loss into context, and as we do this and work through this it helps us remember our children and hopefully in the process support others as they live through the same unspeakable nightmare.   

July 23, 2012

Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2008, two days after Mattie was diagnosed with cancer. On July 23, 2008, our world was immediately altered and not for the better. We were in a daze, very stressed out and anxious. Mattie requested that we have Christmas in July that week. So out came our outside Christmas lights and decorations and we placed them all over our deck. Peter snapped a picture of Mattie and I together, and frankly I remember this moment in time like it were yesterday, and NOT four years ago.

Quote of the day: It has been said, 'time heals all wounds.' I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone. ~ Rose Kennedy

I relate to Rose Kennedy's sentiments quite well. Four years have gone by since Mattie was diagnosed with cancer, and yet the pain of this day will never be gone from our reality or hearts. Not that anything can be said to make this day better for us, but when others do acknowledge it, it makes me feel like Mattie is remembered and in essence we are cared about. My friend Mary's birthday is today, and yet Mary is very aware of what this date holds for Peter and I. Mary's daughters attended a nature camp today, and when she picked her girls up from camp she snapped a picture of Abby and Emily for me. Mary wanted me to know that her whole family was thinking of Mattie today, so much so that the girls wore their Mattie Miracle t-shirts to the first day of camp. These shirts were purposefully picked to acknowledge the day. To me this was a special gift, a gift of remembrance. It is certainly very meaningful to me when those who I know remember Mattie and address his loss with me. However, the beauty of this picture is that the next generation is also making a visual statement about the life of Mattie. Needless to say Mary's picture meant a great deal to me today. 

Peter and I took a walk by the Potomac River today. It was incredibly humid and a three mile walk in this heat was a feat. Yet one of the sightings on our journey was that of the Matthew Hayes. The Matthew Hayes is a sight seeing boat which we took Mattie on, and when I see it, I always remember that particular day. It was a Friday afternoon in the spring, in which I picked Mattie up from kindergarten and then all three of us met up to go on a spur of the moment tour. It was a tour Mattie loved, especially since Mattie loved boats. If you asked Mattie what he was saving the money in his piggy bank for, he would tell you to buy a boat. Not a toy boat mind you, but a real boat one day.


When Mattie was a baby and toddler, I would walk with him by the Potomac River quite often. So I know exactly where the ducks like to hang out. Today we stopped to feed the ducks at one of Mattie's stomping grounds. Just like when I was with Mattie, these ducks were thrilled to see us today, and began lining up at the dock as we approached.

July 22, 2012

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2008. Mattie was in the hospital and had assembled this airplane with nails and a hammer. One of the many things Mattie had in his hospital room was tools. It wasn't unusual for us to have a hammer, a screwdriver, a hot glue gun, and other things to keep Mattie engaged, busy and creating. Mattie was very prolific during his 14 month battle with cancer, and I am thankful he was, because he left us many gifts behind to remember him.

Quote of the day: Nothing contributes so much to tranquilize the mind as a steady purpose — a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye. ~ Mary Shelley

Peter and I went for a two mile walk today which was challenging given that the humidity was back! However, a change of scenery was greatly needed. I continue to be fighting a migraine, and though I am functioning, I am still in pain. Tomorrow is July 23, which may seem like just another calendar day, but for us it is a day in which our world was profoundly changed. Because on July 23 of 2008, Mattie was diagnosed with cancer. I can recall how Mattie was diagnosed and every aspect of how that day played out. It is almost like a record playing in my head, with scenes, voices, and feelings permanently in my memory bank! A cancer diagnosis day is a traumatic day for anyone, and chances are if you ask people impacted by the disease, they can tell you about their day quite vividly. However, in Mattie's case, I received this information over the phone in a hospital's radiology waiting room. I brought Mattie into the hospital for a simple x-ray, expecting to find out he sprained his arm or tore a ligament. In the radiology waiting room, I was surrounded by six other people waiting for their test results. At first the radiologist wouldn't tell me the results. He wanted me to return to Mattie's pediatrician's office for the news. However I told him I wasn't moving a step without knowing what he knew. I remember feeling so stunned, physically ill, and yet externally I was calm, cool, and focused because I had Mattie with me and I did not want him to panic. Yet while going through this, I had six people I did not know staring at me and Mattie while I was on the phone! Little did I know, this was going to be one of many more days to come, in which I would be receiving terrible scan results on Mattie's condition. All of this remains with me, and it is no wonder now when I have to go to a hospital and wait for scan results that I am totally on edge. In my mind scans are associated with terrible and life threatening news, and my once innocent attitude on the world, has been crushed. Because I know bad things do happen to good people, and age doesn't matter, since at any age one can be stricken by a life threatening illness.

I would like to share two photos with you from our walk today. Along our journey we came across this beautiful flower, which to me looks like a huge hibiscus. Not a flower you expect to see right outside a large government building in the middle of the city.

I affectionately call this picture, DC Ducks. While we passed a park along our walk, the fountain was surrounded by ducks!