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

October 7, 2017

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2005. Every April, we took Mattie to the DC Arboretum. Why? Because the Arboretum has an extensive collection of azaleas. I mean hundreds of them and they are huge. They happen to bloom around Mattie's birthday. The pathways and trails to see the azaleas are lovely, and Mattie always enjoyed the trip! He particularly loved hearing me say that the azaleas bloomed because they knew it was his birthday!

Quote of the day: I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order. ~ John Burroughs

I have been dealing with an incredible migraine, non-stop for several days now. It is very debilitating. For the most part I haven't known a headache free day for almost 16 years now. But there are different degrees of pain and headaches, and this week it is bordering on intolerable. 

Sunny looks forward to our weekend walks, and I am happy Peter suggested we go to the DC Arboretum. That way we avoid crowds, congestion, and fighting for sidewalk space. It is better for my head not to be competing for green space. This was Sunny's first visit to the Arboretum. Like Mattie, Sunny loved it. He had a spring in his step, which was wonderful to see, since he was not himself after surgery this week. 
Sunny was literally pulling us up the hills at the Arboretum. He was so excited to check out these new green spaces, sniff, and smell. Not to mention hunt for squirrels. 
Along our journey, we spotted a tree dropping these very large fruit. Neither one of us knew what kind of tree this was. But clearly someone had cut open one of the fruits on the ground and the inside looked like a apple. 
This small tree is the home to the large fruit above.
Along our walk today, we came across the same bench above that I sat with Mattie. Sunny was my bench companion today. 
Can you see the columns in the background? They are known as the National Capitol Columns. It is an arrangement of twenty-two Corinthian columns, originally from the United States Capitol, placed amid 20 acres of open meadow, known as the Ellipse Meadow.
This is pathway around the Ellipse Meadow. When we took Mattie to the Arboretum years ago, such a wonderful pathway did not exist. You had to walk through the fields to get to the columns. 
The beauty of an 80 degree day, with such a blue sky and the columns as a backdrop. 
Amazing wildflowers surrounded the columns!
A close up of the columns. I remember Mattie loving the water feature near these columns. The water literally trickles from the columns into the basin, and Mattie loved following the water as it traversed to the basin. 

For me, no trip to a garden is complete without spotting a monarch butterfly. To me it signals Mattie was with us on today's journey. 

October 6, 2017

Friday, October 6, 2017

Friday, October 6, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in the spring of 2006. Mattie was in preschool and as you can see was wrapped up in toilet paper. Mattie loved paper and tape. In fact, Mattie's teacher once told me that he went through the classroom's year long tape supply in one semester. You would be amazed all the fun Mattie could have with tape. His teachers learned that lesson quickly. But it was in that first year of preschool Mattie really blossomed as a little person. He made friends, learned the art of sharing, compromising, and listening to his teachers and friends. All life skills that Mattie soaked up and served him well into elementary school and his cancer battle. 

Quote of the day: I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house. ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

Last night, I had a full fledged migraine. Totally ill and unable to function. Typically I can work through head pain, but not when it affects my eyes, stomach, and head. Then I am down for the count, but when so ill, you can't get comfortable or rest. I couldn't sit still. 

Still dealing with an intense headache today, but at least able to function. Sunny and I went for our usual walks today. The weather was glorious.... in the 80's. Lots of people around me were demanding cooler weather. What on earth is wrong with them? It will get cold soon enough. In the meantime, enjoy the sun, the greenery all around you, and people out and about.

Each day Sunny and I walk alongside the Potomac River. One restaurant by the water front has been renovating its outdoor patio area. However, to all our amazement in front of their renovated terrace stands this modern sculpture, or nightmare as I call it. From this angle above it looks like a plane, no? The sculpture's name is Scarlet, I have not idea how it got its name, but it is a visibly unpleasant eye soar. 

Later this afternoon, Indie was outside and loving it! I got a few pansies to plant and she was inspecting the progress. 
The beauty of Indie!

October 5, 2017

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in 2006, at Mattie preschool playground. Mattie was sitting next to Nancy (a preschool friend) and Margaret (Mattie's first preschool teacher, and my friend). It is hard to believe that Mattie and Margaret are now both gone. It just doesn't seem possible. Nancy's mom, Jane, who I met in 2005, plays an integral role in supporting Mattie Miracle, as she helps me with corporate and community sponsorships. When I took this photo over ten years ago, I honestly never knew what significance this photo would mean to me today. 

Quote of the day: The only good thing about times of adversity is that you realize who your real friends and fans are – and the rest go away – which in my mind is an OK thing. ~ Pete Wentz

Sunny and Mattie share something in common..... they are both strong willed and know what they will and will not do or tolerate. Sunny refuses to wear his protective cone (see photo -- the thing is ridiculous... rigid and acts like a tunnel around his head) and he also refuses pain killers. I honestly think he can smell them from feet away and no matter what I put it in, he won't take it. So I gave up that futile exercise. However, I noticed Sunny's snout was completely swollen today from having three teeth pulled yesterday. So I decided to crush up his anti-inflammatory pill in cheddar cheese. That apparently was a hit, mainly because I think that pill doesn't smell or taste as bad. I take my successes where I can get them. Sunny has more energy today, was able to go on walks and is eagerly eating soft food. He is making a come back. I bought Sunny dog ice cream today in the grocery store. I am happy to report he LOVES ice cream! Peter is joking with me that Sunny is getting so many good treats that he is going to want to go back to the vet for more procedures!

Eight years ago today, my friend Ann's dad died. Why is this so meaningful to me? Because two weeks after Mattie died, Peter and I moved into Ann's house to help her with her kids and her parents. Ann's husband was going to be away on business for two weeks and she needed support. Given all she did for us, it made sense for us to be there for Ann. In addition, having just helped Mattie die, we were very skilled in this very hard life task. While Peter was helping Ann at her home, I was at the care facility with her dad and mom. In fact, I was present the moment Ann's dad died. Her dad died five days before Mattie's funeral. It is a period of time I will never forget, as it was very wrapped up in the emotions and horrors of Mattie's death. Caring for Mattie for over a year was so life altering and intense, that after he died, I had super human energy that needed to be directed somewhere. I couldn't go from caring for Mattie so intensely to nothing. I also think that nothing and no activity after Mattie's death would have sent me crashing in a downward spiral quickly. So a part of me always credits Ann's parents for my immediate survival after Mattie's death. They gave me a purpose, wanted to get to know me, and were eager to share with me their feelings about their own son's death to cancer. 

As I occasionally do, I reach back in time to previous posts from the blog. The passage below was from October 5, 2009. In addition to my reflections, I also posted two messages that were sent to me that day..... one from a friend and another from my mom. Where did the messages come from? Well soon after Mattie died, our care community would send me emails practically daily. I tried to include many of these messages on the blog. Now I am happy I did this for historical purposes.  


Blog Posting from October 5, 2009 (five days before Mattie's funeral):

Last night at 9pm, Ann's father died. Unlike Mattie, Sully died a peaceful death. It fact his heart rate just continued to become slower and slower, until it eventually just stopped beating. I still can't get over the huge difference between Sully 's death and Mattie's. However, both were similar to the extent that there was no dialogue or two way good-byes. Not being able to have a two way conversation toward the end, I find unsettling, but I guess you just have to have faith that your loved one is hearing you as you express your final thoughts and feelings.

As I told Ann last night, being able to help her the past two weeks was a privilege. I feel very honored to be able to be with her through this intense process, and to be able to sit with her while her dad was dying. In a way, watching a loved one die is a private and intimate experience, and yet Ann allowed me to participate in it, and to support her. Not unlike how she supported me for over a year. It really intrigues me to find out just how many people have had the experience of watching the death process unfold with a loved one. My guess is not many people experience death in such an intense manner, but maybe I am wrong. Needless to say, I have seen two people die before my eyes in just less than a month. Certainly that is not easy for me, and yet, after helping Mattie, not much frazzles me. Not much scares me, and most certainly no medical personnel is going to intimidate me. Georgetown Hospital taught me well. I learned to question and advocate everything, and in the end I found Mattie's doctors respected me and I felt as if I was included as a valuable part of his team. However, sitting with Ann over the past two weeks has enabled us to learn more about each other, and as I always say, under times of crisis, you really learn what a person is made of. Experiencing such life and death situations, bonds you to a person instantly, like nothing else I have ever experienced. I am not saying I am looking for these near death experiences in my life, but Mattie and Sully's death are now a part of my life, and as such I have the need to make sense out of them. There has to be a reason I am going through this, I can't imagine why, but I am hoping that the reasoning presents itself. In the mean time, I just keep doing what I can to feel safe and somewhat able to cope.

As Ann heads to Boston tomorrow to plan her father's funeral, a part of me feels almost guilty or incomplete, because I will not be able to participate on this final journey with her. Naturally it makes perfect sense that I can not go to Boston right now, since Mattie's funeral is this Saturday, but I have become invested in the caring of Sully, and it seems like not attending the funeral doesn't put closure to our time together.

I had the opportunity to spend some time with Mary (Ann's mom) today. Mary, as is to be expected, is out of sorts today. As she let me know, she feels "empty." She looked at me as she was telling me this, and I told her I could completely understand how she feels. Mary is not crying, like myself, but you can tell she is profoundly sad. Sad for the loss of her husband and the loss of her son. Mary asked me today how I felt after Mattie died when I had to come back to our home. I thought that was an insightful question, especially as she sits in the room that her husband died in. This afternoon, Margaret also came by to visit with us, and Mary enjoyed her company and we appreciated the wonderful homemade goodies Margaret baked and shared with us.

This message is from one of our Team Mattie supporters, who is helping us tremendously as we plan Mattie's funeral. Olivia wrote, "I continue to feel pause at the experience of planning this ceremony. Somewhere, inside, I have ‘shut off’ some feelings as I walk through these organizational steps now and am busy in the ‘technical, detail, task-oriented manager’ role . . . not accessing my ‘emotive, fellow mother, want to hold you, friend’ role since I now have a ‘project’ with which to busy myself. But, I have to listen to this disconnect in my heart in how I write to you these past few weeks since Mattie died. I apologize if my words are now so task-oriented and not offering a compassionate ear. I have not meant to interact with you on such a pedestrian level as if this effort were simply a ‘volunteer project.’ I am just trying to stay focused and hear what you need and respond to those needs . . .or else I kind of fall apart. I don’t know how you and Peter are shutting on and off all day – the thought of it exhausts me and I continue to pray each morning that you may be free to be authentic – laugh, cry, curl up in a ball or fling yourself wide open and scream – and that others let you be you. I may not understand you, for I can’t know your pain, but I can accept your authenticity and the gift of your son, your beautiful life’s work, that you are working so hard and nobly to bring to others this Saturday."

The final message is from my mom. My mom wrote, "Has it been a month already? I agonized about leaving September behind because Mattie had been with us then and selfishly I thought of how much I missed his physical presence though my rational mind told me it was a blessing that he was no longer suffering and in pain. It just felt like time was marching on oblivious to my need for it to slow down because I was not ready to let go of the past. If there were a time machine, I would jump right in it and have it transport me back to the good years and relive all the wonderful moments I had with Mattie. It is a fantasy based upon my unwillingness to accept the finality of death. It is a heart breaking experience to long so much for a lost loved one. But the rational component of my personality brought me back to reality and I stopped to consider whether or not I would be better off if there had never been a Mattie. It was only then that I realized how lucky I was to have been enriched by having Mattie in my life at all and to be able to love and interact with him for seven precious years. In an effort to confront the loss of Mattie in a positive light, I vowed to preserve his memory by writing an account of his life through my eyes and tell the world about our experiences together. Not just for myself but for posterity, so that the light, buoyant, funny, insightful and happy child that Mattie was will never be forgotten by future generations. Let others know about the real Mattie, before the cancer, who loved to sing, dance, frolic, create, tell a joke, giggle and play a prank or two just like any other ordinary kid even though he was precocious, extraordinarily gifted with perception and artistic talent that was remarkable in its scope and its imaginative release. That is how I will try to come to terms with my loss. It will be my own personal contribution to Mattie’s legacy and it is my hope, there is that word again, that it will bring happiness to me and others because his innate joy of life had a magnetic effect on all who fell under his spell and were transported back to childhood by his good natured antics and escapades that in the end leaves us with a story about a short life, but luminous like a shooting star, that begs to be told and remembered."

October 4, 2017

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken during Mattie's first year of preschool, so 2005-2006. Mattie's preschool as a cooperative school, which meant that parents were required to volunteer in the classroom once a month. That particular day, Peter went in to volunteer instead of me. Margaret, Mattie's teacher, captured that moment. You can clearly see how happy Mattie was to have his dad visiting the classroom.

Quote of the day: Pain is such an uncomfortable feeling that even a tiny amount of it is enough to ruin every enjoyment.Will Rogers

Today was not a good day for Sunny. Sunny was at the vet all day getting his teeth cleaned, having three removed, as well as getting three tumors (two on his legs and one on the eyelid) removed and sent for pathology. Seems to me any one of these things would be more than enough for a dog, but all three were overwhelming. Sunny had general anesthesia and it took him a while to come out of it. But there is great sadness in today's story. When the vet went to clean Sunny's teeth, she noticed that his two top canine teeth (the big pointy ones) were fractured and worn down to the nub. She called me about this because prior to her cleaning, we knew he had a cracked tooth in the front, but we did not know about the canines. So Sunny literally had to have three teeth removed today including the roots. If you look at the photos above, the one on the left shows his top canine tooth broken off. Then the "after" photo on the right shows the tooth removed and stitches in his gums. 

The question becomes how would a dog like Sunny have three fractured teeth like this?! The answer is that Sunny used his teeth to try to break free from either a chain or metal fence. It now makes more sense to me, because Sunny was found abandoned on a South Carolina highway. However, I always thought he was thrown from a car, but now I deduce that Sunny escaped a bad situation by choice. When animal control called his previous owner, alerting him that Sunny was found on the highway, the owner said.... 'keep him!' Unfortunately in the shelter Sunny was sent to in South Carolina, he would have been killed. Thankfully City Dogs in DC adopted him and worked hard to find him a new owner. I think it is fascinating how the body uncovers and reveals trauma, trauma which Sunny can't talk to us about. 

Sunny spent 8 hours at the vet today. Given that a tumor was removed from a back hind leg, a front leg, and his eye lid, Sunny is moving gingerly. Everything appears to hurt. Unlike our usual Sunny, he isn't eating and drinking today. 

Look at this sad face this afternoon! Despite Sunny's pain, he still insists on going out for walks. We are required to limit his activity for two days and he is literally supposed to wear a CONE around his head 24 hours a day for two weeks. But guess what? Sunny refuses to, as soon as you put it on him, he is like Houdini! He wiggles right out of it. The vet even intertwined the cone to his collar. But Sunny got both of the items off at the same time. So given their lack of success, I think it is hysterical that they think I am going to be more successful. As long as Sunny doesn't scratch his stitches, then he will remain cone free. 

We took Sunny for a walk this evening. A very short one because his hind legs seem to be weak from the anesthesia. You can see both of Sunny's front paws have been shaven. One for an IV, and the other was where the tumor was removed. You can also see his left eye has a stitch on the lower lid and we are supposed to put gel in his eye for two weeks. Sunny was sent home with pain killers and an anti-inflammatory, but he isn't compliant with pills. I learned this last year when he needed his grueling heartworm treatments (since he contracted heartworm in South Carolina). Tonight isn't going well for him, so I can only hope he can find rest because he seems very agitated. 

October 3, 2017

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Tuesday, October 3, 2017 -- Mattie died 420 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2009. Mattie was invited over for his first and last sleepover at his friend Abigail's home. Since we know Abigail's parents very well, and her dad was Mattie's surgeon, we decided to leave Mattie there one night. The hospital encouraged us to do this and gave us a night at a local hotel as a respite gift. Naturally I was very nervous leaving Mattie alone, but there was one thing I knew about Mattie.... he was resourceful and knew how to get his needs met. I saw this skill in the hospital, as he had no problem advocating for himself when necessary. He once told a nurse that he did not like how the nurse was cleaning his broviac catheter, and that the nurse wasn't doing it the right way. Mattie was correct and I was very proud of him for speaking up. While staying at Abigail's house, Mattie made sure that her mom gave him all his meds, even his meds for depression. As Mattie told her...... 'without these meds I can't sleep and have bad nightmares.' Keep in mind Mattie was only 7, and yet saw the causal relationship. 

Quote of the day: Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there's no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic. ~ Laini Taylor

In the midst of great tragedy in Las Vegas, we are finding out about the amazing acts of heroism in its survivors. Living in the Washington, DC area, I hear few people talking about the Las Vegas massacre. I am not sure why? Too scary? Too far away? I have no answers but one thing I know..... I am tired of the political spin. I don't wish to hear about policies and animosity between political sides. This is not the time and place for this. Have we forgotten how to be human?! After all, this is what unites us and whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Liberal, or Conservative, you bleed when hit with a bullet. Lives changed forever on Sunday and into Monday, and some individuals and families will never be the same.

I keep hearing that infamous line...... what caused this? Or WHY did Stephen Paddock do this? People naturally look for a rational and plausible explanation for such atrocities. Though having a child diagnosed with cancer and what happened in Las Vegas are TWO very different circumstances, and don't mean to insinuate that such an attack is equivalent to cancer, I do want to point out a similar feeling both traumas evoke. When Mattie was diagnosed with cancer the question we asked and so many others asked of us is why? We need to always understand the why! We need to be in control of our lives and destiny, so that we can effectively prevent such things from happening. But just like with Mattie's cancer diagnosis, Sunday's tragedy was also not preventable. How does this make any of us feel? NOT GREAT. It isn't great knowing that the killer had no immediate red flags, that he did not fit the typical profile of a mass murderer and everyone who knew him seems surprised. It also isn't comforting knowing that professional first responders couldn't help for the first 90 minutes. It was a scenario no one ever prepared for. 

So where is the hope? The hope lies within us. It is the incredible acts of courage and selflessness. All directed from the human spirit, not the government! There are countless stories like the marine who was a concert goer and as the shooting was taking place found a truck in the parking lot and literally rescued 20-30 people and brought them to the hospital or the incredible Go Fund Me pages that are raising incredible amounts of money to support medical care and families of victims. At the end of the day, 59 people were tragically killed, some survivors are physically scarred and all of them are psychologically impacted. But something must be learned from this massacre, that goes beyond the killer, and that is at the core most human beings are good and when pressed the magic of hope shines through even in the greatest moments of darkness.    

October 2, 2017

Monday, October 2, 2017

Monday, October 2, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2009. I recently found this photo through the blog. I no longer had it in our electronic files. So thankfully we have the blog as a resource, so that I can download and file any missing photos taken during Mattie cancer battle. In this particular photo you can see what our living room looked it. Piled with toys, hospital equipment everywhere, and tons of Legos. In fact after Mattie died, we realized we had tens of thousands of Lego bricks! One of our friends gave Mattie some inflatable space aliens, and as you can see Mattie had these green fellows spread out all over our rug. Despite how ill and debilitated Mattie was, he still found the energy to play. 

Quote of the day: "We only had one child," they said. "We just don't know what to do. ~ Parents of 23 year old Jordan McIldoon (who died yesterday in the Las Vegas Massacre)

I think when you have experienced a tragic loss of your own, you become very hyper sensitive to other losses. If today did not make every American pause, then I am not sure what to say. It is terribly disheartening to hear of the trauma 22,000 people experienced at a concert on Sunday night in Las Vegas. Just like with 9/11, this tragedy will forever change security at all outdoor and large events. What we saw unfolding before our eyes on TV today sounded more like a crime drama show than real life, because it is hard to fathom why someone would purchase massive amounts of ammunition and automatic weapons to cause massive causalities and panic for no apparent reason. What is happening to the world and our society? 

In the midst of this nightmare, social media was out of control today. Within hours, Internet trolls and pranksters began churning out hoaxes, misinformation and lame jokes aimed at misleading the public, promoting their own platforms and laughing in the wake of tragedy. I read an article about the purposeful misinformation that people were tweeting about on Twitter and posting on Facebook. I am glad that Facebook and Twitter suspended these accounts today, but only after the damage was done. People used this tragic event to drive business to their websites and instagram accounts. Many of these postings claimed that a loved one of theirs was missing in Las Vegas and asked for people to help them on social media. It turns out these were false reports with photos of people no where near Las Vegas. Just egregious. 

Since Mattie died, I have a thing about being in a confined space with a large group of people. So I am naturally not drawn to concerts, ball games, theatres, and the list goes on. I know many people always laughed at me about this, but today just confirms my fears. As one NYC detective said on TV today, what happened in Vegas could not have been avoided. Which is scary! Clearly today's event was very premeditated, planned, and executed down to a science. Even with how the perpetrator killed himself. In such massive panic, it is impossible for police and security to help innocent participants. So what do you do? I heard one person on the radio today explain that he never travels anywhere without having portable tourniquets in tow. He carries four, one for each limb at all times because he never knows what crisis will arise in a given day. I would expect this reasoning from a military person, trained in combat. But this was a regular USA civilian talking on the radio! Just hearing this was frightening because it makes you feel that you aren't physically save doing anything. 

It is hard to believe that so far 59 people are dead and over 500 are injured and hospitalized. As I was hearing interviews with people who survived this massacre all day, I was overwhelmed by many of the ordinary concert goers who performed the extraordinary. I still can picture this young man talking to a reporter this morning, without his shirt on! He was shirt less because he used his clothes to bandage people and in some cases cover the eyes of those who died around him. He wasn't a trained responder or health care provider, just a concerned and brave citizen, who saw people needed help and rose to the occasion. This may not sound special, but it really is! In a crisis situation that involves life and death, the gut instinct we all have is to run and try to protect ourselves. But in many cases, there were concert goers who did not run. Instead, they jumped in to protect, shield, and direct others to safety. On such a dark day, surrounded by forces of evil, what gives me hope is that the true American and human spirit can not be squelched. 

October 1, 2017

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2009. Mattie had worked on this clay puzzle for hours. He molded the clay into this framework to produce a Sponge Bob replica. Mattie knew how much I disliked Sponge Bob, but my distaste for Sponge Bob seemed to make him laugh, openly talk about it, and all of this was great to take his mind off of the reality in front of us. Mattie loved this clay creation that he made and in fact, we had it on display in his bedroom for years before it disintegrated. 

Quote of the day: Anger is a short madness. Horace

I think Horace's quote was spot on! At times, in certain situations, I can get internally angry. Once I have reached my maximum, it does feel like I am close to going mad. As I can feel so frustrated inside and yet given the context I am in, I have to hold it together, smile, and continue on. What am I talking about? Well today, Peter and I went to our friend's church. For the most part since Mattie's death, I do not spend time in church anymore. I have my own conflicts with God, but I feel over time, I will work those out for myself. What I have absolutely NO tolerance for is man's twisted interpretation of God's thoughts, beliefs, and therefore preached to about how we should be living our lives. It is the judgment and spin that clergy put on God's words that trouble me. They trouble me so that I find it irritating and close to impossible to sit and listen to such meaningless homilies. 

We went to church because our friend had a mass said in memory of the 10th anniversary of her brother's death. Since we wanted to be supportive of our friend, we knew we had to attend. In a way I thought I prepared myself for the mass ahead, but honestly even I couldn't have imagined today. If I did not hear this homily for myself, I probably wouldn't have believed it if someone told me about it. The priest today was visiting, so he isn't a regular priest at this church. However, he has a significant position within the diocese, as he is a vocational coordinator for the region. Meaning he helps to recruit priests and nuns, and also raise money for the church's mission. I have no problem with any of this, what I had a problem with is he turned what should have been a meaningful homily about the scripture, into an infomercial about the church. He literally held up brochures, talked about websites, and came short of directly asking for money. He tried to be humorous while performing this marketing campaign. Mind you it is brochures geared to all ages.... children to adults, married, single, etc. I am quite sure whatever brochure I picked up on marriage at the church, wouldn't help guide me on keeping a marriage going after losing a child to cancer. 

So the marketing and direct solicitation seemed like an abuse of power not to mention a waste of parishioners' time. He had the perfect opportunity to instead inspire his parishioners and instill hope, and I really believe providing this substance would enable the money to come! In addition to this self serving homily, he also discussed the importance of why we do the things we do. In a nutshell he explained that we should be motivated to do good things and help others in the hopes of one day getting into heaven. He repeated this "getting into heaven" line over and over. Though I appreciate his faith and conviction, he has to know that some of his parishioners question this.... is there a heaven? I think God can handle such a challenge but most priests can not. So if you guess whether there is a heaven, then aren't you therefore in a quandary about doing good/just things in order to get into heaven? He left my head spinning. After all don't we want to help and provide service and love to others in our community because we want to live in the image of God? Through doing service we learn more about ourselves, feel connected to all of God's people, and in turn it is this empowering feeling that brings us closer to God!

Of course in the midst of all of this, we were surrounded by children at church and at my friend's luncheon. One would think, 8 years after Mattie's death, I should be okay with being around children Mattie's age. But the reality is....... NO! I neither enjoy seeing them, watching parents interact with their children and the vision and noises of these interactions remain in my head even now.... hours after we all said good-bye. Moments like today always make me pause, because just when I think I am becoming stronger as a person and re-integrating into the world, certain things can set me back and feel unglued!