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

December 20, 2014

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2007. We took Mattie to the US Botanical Gardens in Washington, DC. Which is a wonderful place to visit at any time of the year, but it is particularly magical during the holiday season! This plant was growing and making a statement. I am not sure I would have paid much attention to it. But Mattie decided to go stand underneath it and when he did, it appeared as if he had a big bush of greenery on top of his head. It was a comical sight. 

Quote of the day: We rise by lifting others. ~ Robert Ingersoll

This week I went to the craft store and I purchased these two plain topiary frames! Then over the course of the next several days, I began to transform them! 

Today this is what the finished products look like! I am not keeping them. Instead they are gifts for my friend who lost her mom this year. The butterfly symbolizes her mom and the cardinal is also a reminder that every time she sees a cardinal in nature, her departed loved ones are with her in some way. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday, December 19, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2007. We took Mattie down to the National Mall to see the Christmas Tree right outside the White House, along with all the trees from the 50 states. It was a cold night and despite living in DC for years, that was our first time venturing to see the trees up close! Mattie inspired us and around the main tree was a fantastic train set! It was operational and memorizing. Even in the cold!!! In addition to the trees, there was a yule log burning, which was another first for me! I have never seen one of those..... only heard about them! So in between feeling frozen we got to stand by the fire which was quite special. A magical night. 

Quote of the day: Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see. Mark Twain

This morning I looked out my kitchen window and I saw this sight through my screen...... three mourning doves! NO this was not some line from a Christmas song!!! I have absolutely NO IDEA what they were doing just sitting on our table. After all our feeders are in our commons space, which is outside our deck door. So there is no bird seed on our deck any more this year. So what on earth they were doing just sitting there was beyond me. 

Whenever I see three of any creature, my mind naturally leaps to Mattie, Peter, and me! When Mattie was battling cancer, we had a mama mourning dove who claimed her territory in one of our planters on our deck. She laid her eggs in it, and she sat on those eggs for what seemed like forever. It was the only time we have ever seen such an occurrence in all the years we have lived here. But now when I saw these doves today, I instantly remembered that moment in time. I was transported back to when Mattie was ill, when we watched this mother dove roosting on her eggs. 

This evening I was invited to one of my friend's neighborhood holiday parties. Typically I do not go to parties, but since my friend asked me to go, I went. The ironic part about all of this is, I don't live in my friend's neighborhood, but I know a fair share of people who live there. I reconnected with a woman tonight who I had met at my friend's house years ago. She has her own cancer story, which is how we got connected. In any case, tonight we picked up right where we left off. Isn't that funny how that can happen with a person. She receives our Foundation newsletters and keeps up to speed on our happenings. However, she shared with me that our story inspired her so much that she started making fleece shawls/blankets and donates them to Georgetown University Hospital Child Life's program. Not just one or two, try 77 shawls!!!! Shawls which are given to pediatric patients and family members. I was absolutely shocked and told her that she and I have to sit down and discuss this in depth because this is a story that has to be told!!! To me, it was fate that I go to the party tonight and the ironic part is if you could hear some of the things we were talking about, it most likely would have depressed the average listener. Yet for me, I actually found it empowering. It is always a good feeling when you find someone else who truly gets it and understands. 

December 18, 2014

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2007. We were busy that day trying to stage Mattie in front of Christmas tree, to get the "perfect" Mattie photo for the front of our Christmas card! That year my parents were in DC and they took a photo of the three of us in front of the tree. Ironically this maybe our only photo of all three of us in front of a Christmas tree! All our other Christmas photos are either of Mattie or Mattie with other family members. So this photo is very special to me. Mattie typically did not like posed photos, but as he got older he understood why I wanted him in front of the tree and the fact that the photo was going on our cards. But when Mattie was a toddler and a preschooler, forget it! We had to practically do a song and a dance to get a usable photo! Which is why for the first several years our Christmas cards were ALWAYS location photos..... never in front of our tree. With a location, we had half of a chance of stimulating Mattie's mind to get him to focus on something so that we could take a photo and his body wouldn't be moving in twenty different directions at the same time.  

Quote of the day: Creativity takes courage. ~ Henri Matisse

Despite the fact that I am balancing a ton of work this week, I decided to take on a craft project. It is funny, when I am most strung out, the craft projects seem to present themselves. In Christmas of 2009, I made this set of candy centerpieces for my friend. Of course 2009, was particularly horrible. It was our first Christmas without Mattie. We were truly lost. I remember making these candy trees...... I literally sat in bed watching Hallmark movies and was gluing candy to Styrofoam cones. I was partly numb, directionless, and yet creating truly helped. It kept me focused on something. It was my form of therapy. But I developed that therapy while in the hospital. Mattie and I would create all sorts of things together with his art therapists. In fact, it was Mattie who first showed me how to use a hot glue gun when he was in preschool. Rather ironic, since now everything I do is with a hot glue gun!

If the candy cane centerpieces weren't enough in 2009, I then baked from SCRATCH four Gingerbread Houses for my friend's daughter's birthday party. These were labors of love. Because baking and assembling gingerbread houses are not EASY!!! 

Yesterday, I found myself inspired to venture to AC Moore. One of my favorite stores, after Hallmark. I went to AC Moore with the idea of making a candy wreath. However, when I got there I saw the frame for these topiaries. When Peter and I got married, we had these types of topiaries on our guest tables.... filled with beautiful flowers. Of course we were married in the summer time, but I figured I could transform these structures into a Christmas theme and not use real flowers but silk ones so they could be used year after year. I took a photo so you could see the two topiaries. The one on the left is almost how I bought it and the one of the right is being transformed. I spent quite a bit of time at AC Moore and really designed the whole thing while walking through the aisles. As Henri Matisse's quote points out, creativity does take courage. At one point, I wanted to say..... "I don't think I can do this!"

Here is a close up of the right base..... I added dried moss, starlight mints, and red and gold jingle bells! I am still at it, but you can see the work in progress!

December 17, 2014

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2007. That day we took Mattie to the US Botanical Gardens in Washington, DC. That was always a wonderful holiday tradition because the Gardens gets all decorated for Christmas! It almost seems magical. Miniature versions of the monuments come out on display but the clever part about this is the structures are made out of plant materials. Mattie was posed in front of a model of the US Capitol. In addition to these wonderful plant models, the Gardens always had toy trains running as well! December in DC is cold, yet the interior of the Gardens is like a tropical rain forest! Which was a glorious and memorable feeling. Something we all enjoyed. 

Quote of the day: When we treat people merely as they are, they will remain as they are. When we treat them as if they were what they should be, they will become what they should be. ~ Thomas S. Monson

As I look at the date on the calendar, I can literally see it is December 17th, yet a part of me really doesn't understand what that means. Well I got a real rude awakening for what the actual date was yesterday when I went shopping. Behind one of the sale's clerks it said..... 9 days until Christmas! When I saw that, my immediate reaction was............ are you kidding???? This can't be! In my mind, Christmas is a long time away! I have no idea why I thought that. People may be decorating, there maybe lights all around me, but the irony is, I DON'T see them!!! Either I have tuned them out or they make no impact on me anymore. I am not sure which! I can hear the Christmas music playing around me, I can see the decorations in shopping malls and so forth, but to some extent it is the product of living in two universes. That is all I can say. 

When I ran into my friend Debbie in Hallmark the other day and we were talking about a host of issues, I was trying to describe to her what can happen to parents who lose a child to cancer. It is very easy to want to shut out the world, to shut down as a person, and to close your heart off to just about everyone and every thing. In a way it is safer that way. After all, for us we received one of life's greatest emotional blows, and the verdict is still out how we will recover from that. As a result, though we physically look intact, that is misleading. It is misleading because you have no idea the chaos that remains internally. 

It is hard to know what we fit into! Going to parties inevitably means seeing and hearing about family plans and as a grieving mom I know I have gone through various stages if you will. I can feel very angry and bitter at times in which I can't take that my friends have healthy and alive children and I don't. Of course, I don't wish harm or ill will to their children. It is simply a feeling and one that seems natural to being human. Yet these intense feelings can sometimes impact friendships. As more time has lapsed since Mattie's death, I have had a great deal to work on emotionally. This being one of the issues. I can rationalize that my friends need to be able to live their lives with their children and yet at the same time, it is okay to acknowledge that I have my own feelings of grief. At times it works and I can engage with others and at other times I know when I have to retreat, but that is the key..... with time, I have learned to identify my own feelings and needs more acutely and to me this is the key to survival. 

December 16, 2014

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tuesday, December 16, 2014 -- Mattie died 275 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2006. Mattie was in the woods behind Peter's childhood home in Boston. This was where Peter spent many days as a kid exploring and playing and each time Mattie went to visit his grandparents in Boston, Mattie had an opportunity for a similar adventure. Mattie loved being outdoors so walking, picking up sticks, and a water element were all he needed to start his creative process. Though as you can tell from this photo, Mattie put up with my need for photography at particular points in time..... but clearly he had that "going through the motions" look!

Quote of the day: When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace. ~ The 14th Dalai Lama 

Peter flew to Phoenix today, and when he landed he sent me two photographs he took while in the air. I think they are quite beautiful! It is hard to believe that Peter traveled across the Country, just to come back tomorrow. Fortunately he is a better traveler than me because the flight alone would have done me in for the day. 

Here is another photo from the air! I asked Peter where this was and he said he was over New Mexico. Quite stunning!

Tonight's story of the $20 which I am about to tell you and the quote I shared from the Dalai Lama are very much related. I went to the shopping mall today. As I came out of one store, I had to walk through the food court to get to my next destination in the mall. As I looked down, at my feet was a folded $20 bill. Next to the bill was a table with a young couple and a baby. The natural deduction was the mother dropped this $20 bill. However no one seemed to claim the bill, I could have easily picked up the money and walked away. But I did not do that. Instead, I asked the mom if she dropped the $20. She looked down at her feet and she said 'no.' At that point, she assumed since she told me no, she figured I was going to bend down and pick up the money for myself. But to her surprise, I did not touch the money. Instead, I turned to her and told her... "I guess it is your lucky day." She was STUNNED, and bent down to pick up the $20!

What is the point of the story?! It isn't like I did not want the $20. I most certainly could have either spent it or contributed it to the Foundation. Each and every one of us would rarely turn down $20. But I would have to say for the most part my life has always been regulated by bringing joy and happiness to others first. When I saw the couple with a baby, I remembered those days when I had a baby. Babies are expensive to raise. They constantly need things, are growing, and I figured that this maybe helping a family. In any case, whether it did or not, the act of giving creates an inner sense of satisfaction and perhaps peace within. I know that such harmony is not easily achievable in any other way for me. I am sure this story may sound odd, but I guess when you are presented with an opportunity that could potentially provide someone with kindness, consider it, because there is no telling the internal happiness that will abound for you. 

December 15, 2014

Monday, December 15, 2014

Monday, December 15, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2006. Mattie was four and a half years old. He was celebrating Christmas in Boston with Peter's family. No matter what the weather was like, Mattie enjoyed being outside. As you can see he was playing in the sand with cars, trucks, and trying to build regardless of how hard packed the sand may have been. This gave him pleasure and and we knew keeping him busy and active was key to his happiness back then.  

Quote of the day: What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce. ~ Karl Lagerfeld

In honor of last night being World Wide Candle Lighting at 7 pm, we lit a candle in Mattie's honor! After I posted about this event on the blog and Facebook, I received a photo of candles from my Mom and my friend Mary below!

My Mom's candles in honor of Mattie last night!

Mary's candle in honor of Mattie!

This afternoon, I went to one of my favorite stores, Hallmark! I should own stock in Hallmark! I watch Hallmark movies, I love their cards, and their store! I practically am addicted to everything Hallmark. It just captures my attention, maybe because it evokes feelings, the appreciation of the human spirit, friendship, and the bond between people. In any case, when I entered the store today, I was greeted by two treats.... I bumped into my friend Debbie and I saw this sign that read.... Love you to the Moon & Back! That was a saying Mattie and I used to say to one another! Since Mattie is my "Mattie Moon," the big moon represented on this sign is perfect! It seems to call out Mattie to me! As soon as I saw the sign I grabbed my phone to take a photo of it. 

It also seems quite appropriate that in the Hallmark store I got to catch up with my friend Debbie. We talked about a bunch of different things and as always when I converse with Debbie, she gets me to think, process, and talk. Which is a gift. Few people really want to listen on that level, so to me it is greatly appreciated. 

One of the greatest challenges Peter and I face after losing Mattie is trying to find a way to integrate back into the lives of our friends we once had, friends who have healthy children who are still growing and developing. They are still parents and of course we are not. When Mattie died, it set up a divide... of the haves and the have nots. The haves and the have nots sometimes do not know how to deal with each other, without both setting each other off. It can be problematic and I have tried both extremes of immersing myself fully back in with my friends to having nothing to do with them. At times neither felt good and it can be very confusing when you do not feel like you fit in anymore with anyone. I cycle in and out and fortunately there are people in my life who understand my need to do this and haven't walked away. Though it would be easy to do this since the emotions of grief are hard to understand and read. 

Later today I went to Home Depot to pick up bird seed for my troop of birds that we feed weekly. While there I noticed cut pines. Peter and I no longer decorate for the holidays, but these pines interested me. So I got them and brought them home and decorated them. The decorations on these pines come from my 85 year old friend Mary's Christmas Tree that I created for her last year. Just like with Mattie's tree, I saved Mary's decorations from last year in hopes of decorating another tree for her this year. Of course that did not happen since she died in March. Yet in a way, the spirit of Mary is with me through these pines. 

This is what Mary's Christmas Tree
looked like in December of 2013. I saved all the decorations and the bow!

December 14, 2014

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2004. Mattie was two and half years old and had a solid understanding of what Christmas was about! He was excited about decorating and also intrigued by the gifts that seemed to be coming in and out of our home. In fact under our staircase was a packing box that arrived from Mattie's grandparents in Boston. Both Mattie and Patches wanted access to this box. Patches kept rubbing against the box and if Mattie could have opened it he would have tried! 

Quote of the day: Sharing tales of those we've lost is how we keep from really losing them. Mitch Albom 

Over the past two days, Peter and I have had two very different social experiences. On Friday, we both attended Peter's office holiday party and today we had a brief meeting with a dad whose daughter has been battling cancer for six years. We met this dad when Mattie was diagnosed with cancer. His daughter was diagnosed around the same time as Mattie. We have known this family ever since. Today we dropped off the last 10 Ziploc bags full of candy to this wonderful family who will be transporting the candy for us to Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore. 

I mention these two different social encounters because it highlights the two stark contrasts in which we live! Ironically operating within the normal world can be more problematic and uncomfortable for us and at times the comments and insensitivities that come out of the mouths of parents who have healthy children do floor me at times. Especially when they do not seem to care that they are talking to Peter and I..... two people who have lost an only child....and their complaints center around having to BE A PARENT. Yet I know everything is relative. Parents need an outlet to vent and to be heard and yet those of us who no longer have children also need an outlet. From Mattie's death, I have gained the perspective that children are not a guarantee and they might not last forever, so you need to appreciate every moment and make it meaningful.   

After visiting with this dad today, it was as if we were brought right back in time. We remembered Mattie's battle. The chaos of our lives, the fear, the anxiety, living life on the edge, minute by minute, and how everything else around us just did not seem to matter. When I think about the stresses and fears of all of us who have a child diagnosed with cancer, I realize we practically live on another planet in comparison to everyone else in the world. We try to explain what we are thinking and feeling and what the disease does to our children and to us, but somehow these are ONLY words. Words just can't do the devastation justice.  

I recognition of the devastation, today is Worldwide Candle Lighting Day. It is a celebration of solidarity and memory. It’s a day on which people around the world gather to light candles for children who have died and to show that they will always be loved and never forgotten.

The day is celebrated with a quiet elegance: at 7 pm, people light candles for one hour to remember their loved ones. It is a moving occasion that bypasses geographical and cultural divides. As everyone lights their candles at 7 pm local time, far-flung parts of the world get illumined in turn, so that eventually the light has moved all around.

While this day first began in 1997 as a small remembrance, it has since spread world-wide, creating hope and unity for those whose children are no longer with them. Whether lighting a candle at home, or joining a gathering, it is a way to show love and community!