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

April 26, 2014

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2009. By that point, we knew Mattie's cancer was terminal. Mattie was sitting between Jocelyn and Jenny (Mattie's art therapist). Mattie met Jocelyn early on in his treatment process. Jocelyn also had osteosarcoma. Though Jocelyn was 20 years Mattie's senior, these two got along beautifully, like peaches and cream. Notice Jocelyn's orange wrist band. That was a "Stomp it out for a Mattie Miracle" wrist band that Jocelyn was so fond of. So much so that she gave these wrist bands out as wedding favors years ago when she got married! To me that was a beautiful sign of friendship and loyalty in memory of her buddy Mattie. Tonight's photo illustrates two beautiful people struck down by osteosarcoma, and thereby two sets of families whose lives are permanently altered.

Quote of the day: Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation. ~ Khalil Gibran

Peter and I attended Jocelyn's celebration of life event today, which was separate from her funeral that happened soon after her death. Jocelyn's funeral was a closed event and only attended by family. Today's event was well attended by perhaps 150 or more people. I have to admit that prior to Mattie dying in 2008, I had no idea what a celebrate of life event was! I never attended one in my life, much less heard of one. It wasn't something I grew up knowing about, hearing about, or even attending. With that said, I certainly knew all about funerals and wakes. 

After Mattie's funeral and celebration of life event, which was overwhelming to me, I no longer feel compelled to attend anymore end of life events, and haven't. Well that was until my 85 year old friend Mary died in March of this year, and those closest to me knew I was struggling with attending that funeral. To me these events are no longer about the deceased person, they are about who remains and unless I feel I am needed or my presence is requested by a family member to be in attendance, I most likely will not be going. 

When Jocelyn died, flowers were not requested. Instead, the family requested that people make donations to Mattie Miracle. That is how much the Foundation meant to Jocelyn, and in essence that is how connected Jocelyn felt to Mattie. If Jocelyn could haven seen the outpouring of love from friends and family to the Foundation, I know she would have been very touched and moved, because even in her death she is helping countless numbers of children with cancer. 

At the event today, there were 8 formal speakers who shared stories and their perspectives about Jocelyn's life. All sorts of people from roommates to law professors. There were many common threads about Jocelyn... she was bright, determined, a hard worker, passionate, an advocate, loving, and always a devoted friend. After the 8 formal speakers, those of us in the audience were allowed to speak. I raised my hand and went to the front of the room. I felt that we heard about Jocelyn's personal life, college years, law school experiences, and even her work life, but it was also important to hear about her life as a cancer advocate and also that as a cancer mentor and devoted friend. 

I explained to the audience that Jocelyn sized us up in clinic and deduced that Mattie had her same disease. She took it upon herself to get to know us. Mattie instantly gravitated to her. Which is interesting since she was 20 years older than he was. But as Jocelyn's mom told me today, Jocelyn always said, "Mattie was a lot older than his years!" ABSOLUTELY!!! Which is probably why their relationship worked so well. In many ways, Jocelyn gave Mattie and I both hope, because she made osteosarcoma seem like a doable disease! I relayed the story of Mattie's fear about his leg limb salvaging surgery and how he feared not being able to walk again, looking different, and of course just being plain scared. With that, Jocelyn sat down next to Mattie and the next thing we knew she lifted her pant leg and popped off her prosthetic leg. Keep in mind up until that point, Mattie did not know Jocelyn had a prosthetic leg. Jocelyn wanted to show Mattie what a prosthetic looked like and that with it she could walk, run even, and lived a life just like everyone else. To a six year old who was intrigued by gadgets, Mattie found the whole prosthetic fascinating. The way Jocelyn presented it was in a very humorous and witty manner and she most definitely captured Mattie's attention that day. None of us could have done this! She had lived the experience and could talk with Mattie using first hand knowledge. Jocelyn shared that gift with Mattie on many occasions. They shared thoughts, feelings, and fears together. They also had fun, antics, and spoofy times together in clinic! 

But at the core, Jocelyn had mothering tendencies toward Mattie. Jocelyn may have been unable to biologically have any of her own children, but her nurturing and devotion came shining through. She showed me on numerous occasions that you do not have to be biologically related to people to care about them. After Mattie's death, Jocelyn remained connected to us and attended our Foundation Walks, supported our work and our mission, and even in her death is encouraging her friends and family to do the same. To me Jocelyn will always be a loyal and devoted friend who tried to make Mattie's battle more bearable. As I told her family and friends today, Jocelyn's memory lives on with us and within the Foundation.

Peter and I had the opportunity to talk with Jocelyn's parents, her in-laws (who we have met before at our Foundation Walks), her sisters, her wonderful and devoted husband, Brian, and many of her friends. In the midst of the crowd was also Jocelyn's oncologist. Jocelyn and Mattie shared the same oncologist. Though because of issues we had with this doctor, we switched doctors in April of 2009. How was it to see this doctor again? Peter and I have different reactions to this! Typically Peter is the more rational of the two of us, but when it comes to this individual, it takes Peter great restraint to be in the same room as this person. For good reason, we have a history with him, which I do not care to rehash at this point. But I can say that seeing certain people can retrigger certain memories and feelings, and they aren't necessarily positive ones. 

As we were saying goodbye to the family today, we could tell that the immediate family is simply devastated. The reality is now hitting them!!! Now what??? When will this raw feeling or this intense pain end? How will I continue living without this person in my life? One of Jocelyn's sisters said she wanted to email me because she wanted to get my perspective on a few things. Which I welcomed her to do, of course I am always cautious internally about sharing my feelings about helping someone through grief. Especially since I know much more now than I did during those raw stages. Would I want to know what I know now back then? Maybe not to be quite honest!!!

Several people came up to chat with me today after I spoke and they told me how moving my words were. I am not sure they were that moving, perhaps they were, but my words of advice to each of these "close" friends were.... "do not forget the family. I know you are here today to support them, but they will need your support long term. The grief they will be dealing with is here for a lifetime." I could tell several people were absorbing what I was saying and I hope this comment stays with them into the future. Because at the end of the day, there is NO MAGIC fix to grief. No magic pill, no magic group, solution, exercise, and so forth. I can certainly attest to the fact that grief doesn't go away at the ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY! Which is when social support drops off significantly!!! But the key to long term grief survival is feeling engaged, part of the world, connected, and feeling understood by others in our life. Hopefully my thoughts are clear to you tonight, because I am truly wiped out from today and the emotional experience of trying to keep it together throughout the day.  

April 25, 2014

Friday, April 25, 2014

Friday, April 25, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken six years ago today, April 25, 2008. Mattie was attending his school's spring fair. Standing next to him was his close kindergarten buddy, Campbell and Campbell's sister, Livi. By that point, Mattie almost had a full year in school and felt very comfortable on his new campus and made some very close and trustworthy friends. The irony was, in 2007, Mattie was invited to this school's spring fair as a newly accepted student. I remember taking Mattie onto the campus, but we never made it off the playground. Mattie wanted nothing to do with the other kids, the noise, or the fair activities. Within a year's time, all that changed! So in April 2007, Mattie wanted nothing to do with the spring fair, in April of 2008, Mattie was in his element, running around and playing with friends. We figured there would be many more elementary spring fairs to come! Wrong. It was our first and last event. By the following April of 2009, Mattie was battling cancer. 

Quote of the day: I think if you follow anyone home, whether they live in Houston or London, and you sit at their dinner table and talk to them about their mother who has cancer or their child who is struggling in school, and their fears about watching their lives go by, I think we're all the same. ~ Brene Brown

This morning I drove to the Georgetown University Hospital to donate hundreds of items collected from our April item drive. Literally my car was packed!!! It is times like these that I greatly miss Peter's Ford Explorer! My car can't hold nearly as much! When I drove on campus, I headed to the Emergency Room lay-by area. This is typically where I meet the child life team to unload my car! However, laying by now is becoming more complicated at the Hospital and I had two valet people literally screaming at me. They wanted me to park my car in the garage, rather than lay-by! I tried reasoning with them calmly at first and then when my calm voice wasn't working, and they were still screaming at me, I then let them have it. I turned my ignition off. Got out of the car and told them, I wasn't moving the car! I explained to them that I had a car loaded full of things to donate to the hospital and I had no intention of dragging it through the parking lot! They did not care for my attitude and proceeded to call security over to talk with me. They expected that to intimidate me. You want to know who the officer was? It was Jey!!!!

Jey was Mattie's CT tech. Jey worked with Mattie all the time to transport him up and down to all CT scans. Jey made a huge difference in Mattie's life and ours. But Jey went above and beyond his job description. In fact, Jey called Mattie his "little brother." Jey would visit Mattie often when he was in-patient, he looked out for us, and he simply understood Mattie was traumatized and scared. I also will never forget the day Mattie died. Jey came up to the PICU and escorted Mattie, in his body bag, down to the morgue. He said that no one else was going to take his "little brother" downstairs. Seeing Mattie in a body bag was hard enough, so knowing that Jey was with Mattie, made it feel like he wasn't alone. 

Needless to say, Jey helped me get my car into a secure place today and while I was waiting for the child life staff and for my car to get unloaded, I had the chance to talk with Jey and reconnect with him. There are some people that you will always respect because of what they did for you and for your child. Jey is one of those people! This is the beauty for me about coming to Georgetown, or what coming to Georgetown used to mean to me. It was like visiting family. Family that understood, knew, and lived through Mattie's battle with me. Now this family is slowly dwindling. 

Jey no longer works in the CT department. He left after Mattie died, but now works in security. Which is why he was outside. Yet despite the job change, I could see he was still out there helping and guiding people. The job title may have changed, but the person doing the job has remained intact. You either have the desire to help people and this is part of your inner compass or it isn't. This is most definitely what guides Jey. It is like his North star. But Jey shared stories about his life today that I never heard before. Of course they are his stories, therefore I can't write about them here, but I always feel privileged when someone shares their deepest most thoughts with me and feelings as to how they got to where they are today. 

Jey explained that he did not always approach his job or life with an engaging attitude. He used to keep to himself and appeared aloof. He credits this change to his dad and a particular patient he was assigned to work with one day. However, he freely admits that what keeps him at Georgetown now is Mattie and me. He says he made a promise to me! Which caught me off guard. The promise is he will continue to stay on campus to help people because he remembers me telling him that he made a difference in Mattie's life and in mine. Which is true. It was true then and continues to be true. Cancer care is much more than just the medicine. I certainly remember the medicine, the ravages, the side effects, and its ineffectiveness, but at the end of the day, what will always be remembered is how all of this made us feel. The bad, the ugly, and of course the good. It is people like Jey who made the toxicity of the routine, having to live through hell on earth more bearable. So that of course will never be forgotten, and I am so happy that my comment stuck with him and made a difference in his life. He had no idea that he mattered and that he makes a difference at the hospital. I am glad that someone told him! I also believe that when you allow yourself to hear it from one person, this opens yourself up to hearing it from others. 

April 24, 2014

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2007. We took Mattie to the National Arboretum one weekend to see the incredible azaleas. As I told Mattie all the time..... azaleas would bloom just to celebrate his birthday! It is one of the special aspects of living in Washington, DC in April! The trees and flowering shrubs start to unfurl and show their natural glory. The Arboretum has trails of azaleas that seem to go on for miles, in all different colors. Mattie would walk up and down hills, exploring all the shapes and colors. Even this white azalea made for a stunning back drop in this photo of Mattie. Around Mattie's neck were his Lightning McQueen sunglasses. It wasn't as if Mattie really liked wearing the sunglasses, but he most definitely loved "Lightning" and carrying some sort of car themed item with us most times. 

Quote of the day: People's view of cancer will change when they have their own relationship with cancer, which everyone will, at some point. ~ Laura Linney

Having the ability to work from home gives me the necessary distance from others at times and from the insensitivities that unfortunately exist within most work places. Mainly because in such environments, the majority have not experienced childhood cancer. Thankfully of course! Today, I learned from Peter and my friend in cancer, that it was National Take Your Child to Work Day. I am not sure who came up with this concept, but I do know that if I worked in an office, this would be the one mental health day a year that I would automatically be taking! The sad part about all of this is it should be a positive experience to see children within the work place, to be able to expose them to different careers and for them to see what their parents do for a living and for them to meet their parent's colleagues. Or at least I think so in theory! I know Mattie would have liked this and we took him to Peter's office often before there was an official holiday called "take your child to work day." But now that we lived through 14 months of cancer and lost Mattie, how do we feel about such a holiday? I suppose the question should really be posed to Peter! So I asked him..................... 

Peter basically told me that "take your child to work day" was yet another reminder of what he doesn't have in his life. The day left him feeling jealous and envious, he knows what he is missing and he also knows he can't get Mattie back. Words like alienated, isolated, envious, and sad all freely came out of his mouth. Even at lunch time, Peter could see parents walking around town with their children as they were buying them lunch, and in so many ways, the typical city streets which are usually filled with working professionals, were inhabited with families today. So whether in the workplace or outside the workplace today it was a constant reminder that the focus was on children. So overall it was a hard day for Peter. I will never forget Peter's very first "take your child to work day" after Mattie died. I can't say that with each subsequent year its gets any easier to accept, and in some ways with time it is harder. It is harder because all past hurts and memories build upon the other. 

When Peter was telling me about his feelings, all that I kept thinking about was my experience yesterday in City Hall while waiting for permits. While in the permit waiting area there was a young woman sitting there with her three year old son. The son was a live wire and literally running all over the place. She could hardly contain him. Getting permits makes me edgy to begin with, but having to listen to this little boy, the dialogue with his mom, and then the banter between moms in the waiting area, I was about to blow. The moms were discussing sleep habits and other parenting issues. Of course these are all nature parts of life. I had these same conversations at one time myself! But what was so natural at one time is absolutely alien now, and when stressed out and sleep deprived my tolerance for anything is low. Very low. I would imagine there aren't studies done on the long term psychological ramification of childhood cancer on parents, but if such studies existed, I have no doubt we would see that thoughts, feelings, and the way parents re-integrate back into the world after their child died would be permanently altered.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in March of 2009. Given that today I saw a kindergarten classroom filled with artwork, selecting tonight's photo seemed very fitting. Mattie was all about art! It just came naturally to him. I suspect if I were to ask him who he preferred Matisse or Picasso, he would have fallen somewhere in between. Mattie loved colors and patterns (like Matisse), but he also appreciated shapes and painting with his imagination, which was completely Picasso's style. Mattie created this lovely painting that you see, it hangs in our dining room today. Some how its bold colors and shapes make me feel happy and though it was painted during a painful part of our lives, the painting captures Mattie's true spirit. A spirit that couldn't be squelched even by cancer. 

Quote of the day: No one has ever looked at Matisse's paintings more carefully than I; and no one has looked at mine more carefully than he. ~ Pablo Picasso

Today was one very busy day! It was one thing after the other, after the other! I started my day off at Mattie's school. Today was my last art session in which we talked about the friendship and rivalry between Matisse and Picasso. Rivalry is a big word, which needed to be explained to the children, but they caught on quickly and enjoyed following along and were intrigued to learn more about how two people could know each other for 50 years and have such a love/hate relationship. But in all reality, it was the rivalry between these two great artists that most likely inspired them to achieve true greatness! As tonight's quote so aptly stated, no one looked at Matisse's paintings more closely than Picasso and vice versa. 

I started out today's session with a short video clip, so the children could understand what we were talking about was newsworthy, that there had been a famous exhibit featuring these two artists side by side in 2003, and that the reporters even discussed the children's book they were familiar with (When Pigasso met Mootisse). The same book which was the impetus for what brought me into Donna's classroom four years ago! 

Picasso and Matisse were famous for their still life paintings! Like the concept of rivalry, I also had to explain to the children what a still life was. It was hysterical to hear that they thought they were a still life or an inanimate object!!! The hands on activity today was to paint a still life. With the hopes that the children would start to focus on color, shapes, and want to paint based on what was present in nature or use their imagination. Meaning that they would have absorbed the content learned over the past two weeks and therefore this would potentially influence their art products. Clearly I gave them a still life example of sunflowers and pieces of fruit to paint (as my photo indicates). But as they saw with my countless number of power point slides that I showed them this morning, Picasso and Matisse could paint the same subject matter and yet the final product looked completely different. That is because their styles were different. Yet over time, because of their rivalry and the fact that they STUDIED each other's pieces SO intensely they began to adopt aspects of each other's works. Therefore, over time, Picasso's paintings had more color and patterns to them, and Matisse's paintings had more shapes and dimension. The point of today's exercise was not to have the children draw verbatim what they saw but to find their inner style and artist. I will let you be the judge of whether they got the point of the assignment!!!!! 

I snapped several photos of individual student canvases today. It seems clear that the children love the colorful nature of Matisse and also appreciate his fauvism style, meaning that Matisse painted things with colors that weren't true to nature (e.g. a purple banana, when most bananas are yellow). In fact, while the children were painting today, I took them one by one to a corner of the room to vote on a ballot I created. I wanted them to vote for their favorite artist. 

The class was quite torn on who their favorite artist is.... since Matisse received 9 student votes and Picasso received 8 student votes! This is another wonderful painting. Nothing in my display was red, except the apples. So the red squares in this painting was definitely part of this artist's imagination. Which Picasso would have appreciated. 

This painting captured my attention because of the colors and patterns. 

This painting seems like the fruit are on display. Yet if you look closely the vase and sunflowers are there up top. They are integrated into the painting in a very unique fashion. With such vibrant colors!

The pink vase here fascinates me and I love the flowers coming out of it. Not to mention the very large orange and apple by the vase's side!

The last two photos I took may look more simplistic, but to me they are both striking. 

I just love the blueness of the vase, the dimensions and colors of the flowers, and the whimsy of the fruit hanging in the air. 

At the end of the hands on activity, comes the snack! Because they paint a still life, my joke is they then get to eat a still life. I set up a buffet table of fresh cut up fruits for the children. The week before, I had asked the class for their top three fruit choices. This class chose pineapple, mango, and strawberries. One student only likes apples, so I brought in cut apples too. In addition, I brought in dipping sauces for the fruit (caramel, fudge, and marshmallow). Needless to say this buffet is always a hit, but this year was a complete first for me. This year's group even ate the STILL LIFE display!!! 

In the midst of this third session, we were also visited by Bob Weiman, the head of the lower school, or as my faithful blog readers better know Bob as.... "the Magic Man." Bob taught Mattie magic throughout the year he was battling cancer. Bob learned magic from his father and continues this beautiful tradition of teaching children magic at the elementary school. In fact, as I recalled to Bob today, when Mattie first entered elementary school, he was very cautious and hesitant to come. Mainly because he loved his preschool and did not want to leave it. During his elementary school's open house for new families, I remember taking Mattie to that event. It was outside, there was a lovely tent, punch and cookies. Everyone was friendly and trying to engage Mattie. Mattie however, was hiding behind me and was disengaged. That was after coaxing him out of the car for several minutes! Honestly the rest of that event could have been a disaster, it wasn't, for one reason! Bob! Bob held a magic show. I walked Mattie over to the show, and Mattie was intrigued enough to come out from behind me, watch, and participate. It was after that brief encounter with Bob, that Mattie asked me if Bob was his "principal." When I said "yes," Mattie made a mental note, and I could see that he felt this new environment was going to work out. Needless to say, our reunion in the classroom today was an emotional one. Bob saw me in the hospital during some difficult days and I appreciated Bob's acknowledgment of the fact that it can't be easy coming back to the lower school, much less into a kindergarten classroom. The sad reality though is that in my world, I am frozen in time, I am frozen in kindergarten. Mattie's friends and their mom's are in sixth grade, but not me.... I am right back where I was left, in kindergarten. 

After Donna's class today, I hit the ground running. I ran around town picking up April item drive donations, items for the Walk, and of course the bane of my existence... I went to City Hall to deal with permits!

This afternoon and evening, I sorted through all our April item drive donations in honor of Mattie's 12th birthday. These items will be given to Georgetown University Hospital, to help inpatient families caring for pediatric patients. The items collected include soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, shaving razors, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, keurig cups (a big hit!!!), kid band-aids, and tissues. To all our contributors........... we THANK YOU!!!!!

April 22, 2014

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tuesday, April 22, 2014 -- Mattie died 241 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in January of 2009. We took Mattie to New York City for a second time to start his experimental treatment at Sloan Kettering. He had to start the protocol in New York but could continue treatment each week at Georgetown. Before Mattie's first infusion, we took him sight seeing in New York. New York is a challenging City to negotiate when you are fully functioning, however, with a disability and in a wheelchair, it was much harder. Nonetheless, we were determined to get Mattie around using taxis and even ferry boats! One nice by-stander snapped a photo of us with Lady Liberty behind us.

Quote of the day: Cancer can take away all of my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart, and it cannot touch my soul.

I found this quote on the Internet today. Certainly I understand the spirit in which it was intended and perhaps why the author even wrote it, but let's be honest.............. cancer impacts every part of the patient and the family. Both literally and figuratively. In fact, many childhood cancer treatments impact cognitive functioning, specifically treatments for brain cancer, and many high dosage chemotherapies have cardiac side effects. Mattie's therapies certainly did! So in these examples cancer directly affects the MIND and the HEART! Putting that aside, I know the psychological ramifications of cancer are NOT easily measured and quantified, and yet everything from diagnosis, scanning, living in the hospital, treatment, side effects, feeling ill, in pain, being isolated, losing friends, disease progression, and the list goes all weigh heavily on the MIND and HEART. All of these factors have consequences! Consequences that would never have arisen in the first place if cancer wasn't physically present. So yes cancer may be a physical disease, but unfortunately you are missing the forest through the trees if that is all you view it and treat it as. 

As of tomorrow, I will be on day 7 of working on Walk permits! However, it will practically be done! As of today, all permits have been filed and tomorrow I am headed to City Hall to pay our permitting fees, which have substantially tripled in cost from last year! Amazing no??! It is hard to at times accept these fees knowing that we are hosting this event on private property. But I realize it is the price of doing business. 

Later today, I went to Mattie's school to set up for tomorrow's last kindergarten art session. I am hearing feedback that the children are having lively conversations at their dinner tables at home about Matisse and Picasso and naturally their parents are wondering where this is coming from. That made me chuckle! I find the whole thing absolutely hysterical since I am not an art major, I am not an art educator, or an educator of young children. Yet something is being conveyed to these young minds! Tomorrow's lesson focuses upon the friendship and rivalry between these two great artists. In so many ways Matisse and Picasso understood and knew each other better than anyone else in the world! They certainly studied each nuisance of each others' works over the years, and in a way it was the competition between the two of them that sparked great achievements in art! Somehow the children always love this last session, given the hands on exercise and then the special snack. I will share photos tomorrow! 

April 21, 2014

Monday, April 21, 2014

Monday, April 21, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2009. We took Mattie for a walk near our home. One of the wonderful things about April, besides being Mattie's birthday month, is it is a month in which there is a wonderful display of azaleas. In fact, I used to tell Mattie that the azaleas were blooming in honor of his birthday. Which Mattie got a kick out of!

Quote of the day: It's really going to happen. I really won't ever go back to school. Not ever. I'll never be famous or leave anything worthwhile behind. I'll never go to college or have a job. I won't see my brother grow up. I won't travel, never earn money, never drive, never fall in love or leave home or get my own house. It's really, really true. A thought stabs up, growing from my toes and ripping through me, until it stifles everything else and becomes the only thing I'm thinking. It fills me up like a silent scream. ~ Jenny Downham

Tonight's quote, comes from the novel, Before I Die, which seems to give us an insightful glimmer into just how tragic a realization it is for a teen to realize that her life's journey is ending. That she will not be able to go to college, have a job, leave home, get a house or basically grow up and become an adult. This won't be happening because her body is being ravaged by cancer. How does this news affect a developing mind? I can't even imagine, because I can hardly understand or accept what I know as a mature adult.

I had the opportunity to have lunch with my friend Junko today. As my faithful readers know, Junko is one of the first people I met at Mattie's elementary school, and in fact, our boys became instantaneous friends. When Mattie was battling cancer, Junko would visit me often, and is the person who created origami praying cranes for Mattie. Two sets in fact. One that hung on Mattie's IV pole and another which was comprised of 1000 origami cranes that always hung over Mattie's hospital bed. These cranes came with us on EVERY hospital admission and discharge and to this day they remain hanging from the ceiling in Mattie's bedroom (as you can see!). Junko and I are both well aware of the impact of cancer on a life, and how this changes family dynamics. But we reflected on the recent losses we have additionally experienced within the last month or so, and the realization of how these deaths have altered the lives of their loved ones was almost too much for us to bear. Mainly because we have the insight into how this will look maybe not right now, but days, weeks, or years from now. It left us feeling and questioning why some people are given more than seems tolerable or bearable? Of course we have no answers to any of this but I do think our own experiences with loss give us much greater insights into how to cope, manage, and assist others with grief and loss. 

This week will be my last kindergarten session with the children. Tomorrow I will go to the classroom and set up for Wednesday. Wednesday's class is a bit more intricate, so things definitely need to be prepared and ready to go the night before! It is hard to believe two sessions have gone by already, I just feel so busy with life moving 100 miles an hour. Not a pace I enjoy moving at, nor do I enjoy processing anything at this speed, and over all it makes me take stock at what has to be done differently moving forward into the future. Since this trajectory is neither healthy or sustainable. 

April 20, 2014

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken on Easter of 2006. We took Mattie to his favorite restaurant. The funny part about all of that was we did not know there was going to be a visit from the Easter Bunny that day! We were all surprised. Mattie was a lot like me, in that he did not care for these big type of creatures coming up and interacting with you. However, at Mattie's age, I would have dove right under the table to avoid the bunny. Mattie was braver, he looked to me first to assess the situation. When I told him it was okay, that this was a friendly bunny who wanted to give him an Easter treat, Mattie relaxed a bit and posed for a photo. I remember that Easter as if it were yesterday. Hard to believe it was eight years ago!

Quote of the day: You are on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the one who'll decide where to go. ~ Dr. Seuss

There is something to be said about Dr. Seuss' quote. I feel in so many ways, "you are on your own" applies to us on any major holiday. Because we are on our own both literally and figuratively. Spending time gathered with family and friends over holidays no longer sits well with Peter and I. We can't share in their joys, their happiness, and I am not sure when and if it ever will. So what does that mean for us? I don't know. How we chose to spend the weekend was quite exhausting, and neither one of us were feeling particularly energetic to begin with. 

Cleaning our outdoor spaces was an absolute killer this weekend. We made significant headway between yesterday and today. But did this bring me joy and happiness? I wouldn't quite say that. I am quite sure Peter's back hurts him from lifting shrubs and bags of dirt and with my significant lack of sleep, just moving from one location to another seemed like a feat. 

We had to buy more plants today and while on the George Washington Parkway, I got my camera out and snapped some photos of our glorious trees in bloom. Washington has these electric Red Bud Trees that capture my attention every spring. 

I realize this photo is blurry, given that I am in a moving car this is no surprise, but you can see the incredible cherry trees are in bloom and are stunning!

Memorial Bridge dotted with daffodils!

Today I cleaned our balcony window and Peter potted all new scrubs outside. We moved our indoor trees outside and I love this time of year when I can see so much greenery outside our windows. 

I have planted several butterfly friendly plants this year. This erysimum is one example. Throughout our deck is also sun, moon, and butterfly themed things in Mattie's honor. 

Peter found a climbing hydrangea
today! That is a new one for me. I did not know such a plant even existed. So I can't wait to see what this vine looks like. Also on our deck are shells and pine cones that Mattie collected over time. There are collections and symbols everywhere in our garden, you just need to look closely to find them! Something I know Mattie would have loved and appreciated.