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: www.mattiemiracle.com and take some time to explore the site.

We have only gotten this far because of people like yourself, who have supported us through thick and thin. So thank you for your continued support and caring, and remember:

.... Let's Make the Miracle Happen and Stomp Out Childhood Cancer!

A Remembrance Video of Mattie

February 20, 2021

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Tonight's picture was taken in February of 2009. You are looking at the ceiling of the pediatric oncology outpatient clinic at the hospital. That year, the art therapists gave children the opportunity to paint the tiles of the ceiling in the center. I believe Mattie painted five in total (the giant roach that you see in this photo, a haunted house, a train track, a rainbow, and a scene from Scooby Doo). Mattie never saw a roach in real life, but he knew the notion of them bothered me. Which further inspired him to collect rubber roaches and even paint an image of a roach for the clinic. Next to the roach was a woman wearing red. Most likely me..... saying HHHHHA (like a scream). Though Mattie loved this ceiling tile, it actually scared several children so after Mattie died, the tile was removed, and no one knows where it went after removal. 


Quote of the day: Today's coronavirus update from Johns Hopkins.

  • Number of people diagnosed with the virus: 28,065,688
  • Number of people who died from the virus: 497,374

Why is the couch pillow and blanket on the floor? I did not put them there! 

This was the scene I walked into a night ago. I was upstairs at the computer for a bit, and then came back downstairs to rest on the couch. Low and behold I found this! What caused this? SUNNY!

Sunny is a very emotional beast. He didn't like that I was ill this week and apparently NOT effectively meeting his needs for attention. When Sunny is not happy, he goes passive aggressive. We learned this early on after we adopted him. As there would be times I would find the cat's bed (which sits on one of our living room chairs) in the middle of the floor. 

All this is a direct message to me from Sunny, saying...... YOU NEED TO SPEND MORE TIME FOCUSED ON ME!

For a week now, I haven't walked Sunny. Sunny loves our walks together and I have heard this is a way dogs bond with their owners. After 7 days recovering, I finally decided to venture out and walk. I did not select the best day as it was blustery and 30 degrees. It literally felt like the temperature was in the teens. 

The boardwalk at Roosevelt Island was like an ice skating rink. I can't say the dirt paths in the woods were much better. A walk that typically takes us an hour, took us two hours today. The only way to manage this was to walk very carefully!

Sunny stopped in his tracks and was focused straight ahead. We came across a family of four deer. 
Want to know how the deer get from one side of the Island to the other.... they jump over the boardwalk. I have seen this sight before but juggling Sunny and his leash makes it impossible to snap photos! Today I captured it. 

February 19, 2021

Friday, February 19, 2021

Friday, February 19, 2021

Tonight's picture was taken in February of 2009. Pictured with me and Mattie was Jenny, one of Mattie's art therapists. That day we were headed to the outpatient clinic. To do that we had to go down a ramp. Mattie literally wanted us to push him down the ramp and let go. Makes sense since Mattie LOVED roller coasters. To make him happy we ran down the ramp holding the wheelchair! In the background you can see a healthcare professional watching the fun!


Quote of the day: Today's coronavirus update from Johns Hopkins

  • Number of people diagnosed with the virus: 27,950,547
  • Number of people who died from the virus: 495,015


Did you know that today is National Caregivers Day? National Caregiver’s Day started in 2015 by the Provider’s Association for Home Health and Hospice Agencies to recognize professional caregivers, but in the years since, it has expanded to include all those who provide care for others.


Caregiving applies and impacts all of us at some point in our lives! I recall when I wrote my dissertation on family caregivers, I began the introduction of my Chapter 1 with Rosalynn Carter's quote:

"There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers." 

TO ALL THE CAREGIVERS OUT THERE, OUR SOCIETY THANKS YOU!  CAREGIVERS ARE SPECIAL, SELF-LESS PEOPLE, WHO DEVOTE THEIR TIME, RESOURCES, ENERGY, and LOVE TO CARING FOR FAMILY MEMBERS AND FRIENDS!


Here are some caregiving facts:

  1. More than 1 in 5 Americans (21.3%) are caregivers, having provided care to an adult or child with special needs at some time in the past 12 months. 
  2. It is estimated that there are 53 million family caregivers in the United States, up from the estimated 43.5 million in 2015.
  3. Most caregivers of adults care for a relative (89%), typically a parent or parent-in-law (50%), spouse or partner (12%), grandparent or grandparent-in-law (8%), or adult child (6%), though 10% provide care to a friend or neighbor.
  4. Many caregivers live together with their recipient (40%), a proportion that has grown since 2015 (34%). 
  5. As in 2015, older caregivers tend to take care of similar-aged recipients, with 74% of caregivers ages 75 and older caring for a recipient age 75 or older.
  6. Compared to 2015, caregivers are more likely to report their loved one needs care because of long-term physical conditions (63% up from 59% in 2015), emotional or mental health issues (27%, up from 21%), and memory problems (32%, up from 26%), including Alzheimer’s or dementia (26%, up from 22% in 2015).
  7. The support and complex care tasks the nation’s caregivers provide are largely unchanged since 2015, with today’s caregivers providing about 24 hours of care each week. Nearly all caregivers help with Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (bill paying, housekeeping, grocery shopping; 99%), 6 in 10 help with Activities of Daily Living (dressing, bathing, feeding, toileting; 60%), and nearly 6 in 10 help with medical/nursing tasks (58%).
  8. While many caregivers feel their role has given them a sense of purpose or meaning (51%), these positive emotions often coexist with feelings of stress or strain. Caregivers report physical, emotional, and financial strain, with 2 in 10 reporting they feel alone (21%).
  9. One in 4 caregiver find it difficult to take care of their own health (23%) and a similar proportion report caregiving has made their own health worse (23%).
  10. One in 5 caregivers report high financial strain as a result of caregiving (18%). Four in 10 have experienced at least one financial impact as a result of their caregiving (45%).
To read a full report on caregiving in the US by the National Alliance for Caregiving, go to: https://www.caregiving.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/full-report-caregiving-in-the-united-states-01-21.pdf

I remember when I was conducting my dissertation, I did a mixed methodology design. As my dissertation chair believed it was crucial to collect direct information from a portion of my sample of 100 caregivers. I literally did hour long interviews with several caregivers. When I was doing this, I had just given birth to Mattie. So I was sleep deprived and stressed out. Nonetheless, despite how I was feeling, I was touched by each caregiver I interviewed. Their stories were haunting and frankly after each interview all I could say to myself is WOW! How are these individuals managing day to day? It just seemed like they were facing the impossible. Yet when you talk to caregivers they don't discuss the burden. Most will say they aren't burdened at all. In fact, discussing care as a burden produces more stress, guilt, and in some cases anger. Nonetheless, what family caregivers do each and every day does take its toll and it does have long-term medical and mental health ramifications.

Then I parented Mattie with cancer, and it gave me further insight into what the  caregivers said to me in those interviews many years before! Keep in mind that I am not a caregiving novice, as my maternal grandmother suffered a stroke when I was in college. This transformed our home and my mom's life, as she became my grandmother's primary caregiver. When my mom got sick from caregiving and landed up in the hospital, then she needed support. So I have seen the ramifications of caregiving, but somehow caring for a child with cancer added another layer to the mix. Mattie's journey gave me an even greater understanding for the tasks of caregiving and the constant uncertainty and perhaps hopelessness one can develop in the process. 

But at the end of the day, for the majority of caregivers, we take on the role because we love the person who needs help. We feel it is our responsibility and we also believe that no one is going to do a better job than us! Not to mention that the health care system and the health care insurance industry are NOT set up to meet the needs of those who need day to day care. Specialized professional care yes, custodial... day to day care, forget it! Which is why family caregivers step in because if we don't there are really no good alternatives.  

February 18, 2021

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Tonight's picture was taken in February of 2009. Mattie was home between treatments and was playing on the floor! Perhaps it seems odd that a child with cancer, having tubes coming from his chest, was on the floor at all. Yet this was the best place for Mattie to play, as standing and walking were very difficult for him after his surgeries. Playing on the floor enabled Mattie to just be a kid. Mattie loved playing with water and his toy vehicles. So you can see in one hand  he was eating a donut and the other he was using one of my kitchen pots for creative play. Truly an amazing sight really because as adults when we aren't feeling well, the notion of moving and finding energy to smile seems impossible.  


Quote of the day: Today's coronavirus update from Johns Hopkins

  • Number of people diagnosed with the virus: 27,881,728
  • Number of people who died from the virus: 492,646


I am now into day seven of wearing pajamas and trying to recuperate from a sinus infection. I am definitely making progress, but still do not have much energy and have congestion. 

I came across a study today entitled, COVID-19–Related Misinformation among Parents of Patients with Pediatric Cancer. The study mentioned the increased incidence of delayed cancer diagnoses and high mortality rates in pediatric patients, some of which may be a result of the pandemic. Several parents are choosing to not seek medical care in fear of contracting COVID-19 or not having access to medical care because of pandemic-related healthcare office closures. The mortality rate for pediatric cancer has subsequently increased as a result of delayed access to medical care, but misinformation related to COVID-19 may be a contributing factor in this.

Having a child diagnosed with cancer is a nightmare of grand proportion. I can't imagine coping with that as well as the Pandemic at the same time. I read the article, which I highlight below, and I am perplexed with the findings. Specifically that parents of children with cancer are more susceptible to believing misinformation about the COVID-19 virus than the regular non-childhood cancer parent population. I guess I have trouble understanding this specifically because parents of children with cancer are VERY GOOD at searching for accurate information and getting down to the bottom of what is fiction versus reality. Especially since we work with our child's healthcare team. So when in doubt we ask questions and seek input from our providers! Therefore, I must admit that reading this study made me upset. Upset because I felt that parents of children with cancer were not really being understood but instead characterized more as gullible, open to misinformation on the internet, and under so much stress that we can't think effectively. Thereby potentially making poor decisions when it comes to seeking treatment for our children with cancer. 

Of course I realize that wasn't the intention of the article. Rather it was designed to assess myths and perceptions about COVID-19 and to determine how these beliefs might impact on-going cancer treatment. The article states that, "the purpose of this study was to determine whether parents of children with cancer are more or less vulnerable to COVID-19–related misinformation than their counterparts who have generally healthy children."

Rightfully they ponder that, 

"On one hand, parents of pediatric cancer patients, who generally have more experience with medical information and the healthcare system, may be more discerning about COVID-19–related information than their counterparts who have generally healthy children. On the other hand, the COVID-19 epidemic may increase anxiety and fear among parents of children with cancer. These parents may be more attentive to online medical information; thus, they may have greater exposure to misinformation. Parents of children with cancer are also likely to be active on social networking sites (e.g., Facebook groups) relevant to their child’s health condition and, thus, could be exposed to misinformation posted by other members."

Data were collected from 735 parents of children 2–17 years of age during May 1–31, 2020. These parents fell into two groups: 1) 315 parents who had children in active cancer treatment and 2) 420 parents of children without a cancer history. The parents who had a child in treatment, seemed to be younger, had a higher level of education, and reported higher levels of COVID-19 stress. 

Study participants were asked to endorse a series of 17 COVID-19–related misinformation statements taken from the World Health Organization’s website, using the following 5-point response scale: “definitely untrue,” “likely untrue,” “not sure if untrue/true,” “likely true,” and “definitely true.” The items included statements related to susceptibility to (e.g., “COVID-19 only affects older people,” “The COVID-19 virus cannot be transmitted in hot and humid weather”) and prevention of COVID-19 (e.g., “Eating garlic can help prevent infection with the COVID-19 virus,” “Gargling with or swallowing bleach will help get rid of COVID-19”). My image shows all 17 statements used in the study. 

The main finding was that parents of children with cancer were more likely to endorse or believe false statements about the COVID-19 pandemic. That is, they were more vulnerable than parents of healthy children to misinformation. Across the 17 “myths,” parents of children with cancer were more likely to believe myths associated with the prevention of COVID-19 (such as, "Vaccines against pneumonia can protect against COVID-19,” “Eating garlic can help prevent infection with the COVID-19 virus") as opposed to myths related to the susceptibility to COVID-19 (such as, “COVID-19 only affects older people” and “The COVID-19 virus cannot be transmitted in hot and humid weather”) compared to parents of generally healthy children.  

The study concludes that, 

"It is not completely clear why parents of children with cancer are more vulnerable to misinformation. Parents of children with cancer may be at greater risk of exposure to misinformation as a result of greater levels of COVID-19–related stress, resulting in more time spent looking for information online. Moreover, the increased stress levels reported by these parents could be affecting their information-processing abilities, making them more likely to use cues rather than more critical, central processing routes of assessing information credibility."


I think it is noteworthy that parents of children with cancer were more likely to believe myths associated with the prevention rather than susceptibility of COVID-19. Doesn't this make sense? Picture yourself caring for a child with cancer. Wouldn't you be more open to ANY ideas about preventing the contraction of COVID-19 in order to keep your child safe? Given that children with cancer have compromised immunity and therefore are more likely to contract illnesses and diseases within our community, I believe there is desperation as a parent. Since this study was conducted in May of 2020, we really did not know that much about the virus as we do now. So again, I think it is plausible that parents seek outside the box counsel and information to again...... KEEP THEIR CHILDREN WITH CANCER SAFE. I don't view this as vulnerable or gullible. I view this instead as the challenges of being a parent caring for a child with cancer. Parents of children with cancer are confronted with decisions and issues on a daily basis. It is impossible to conclude that parents of children with cancer in this study were vulnerable to misinformation. There are many variables at play when caring for a child with cancer that to me can more easily explain their buy into these prevention myths.  

February 17, 2021

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Tonight's picture was taken in February of 2009. Notice that Mattie was holding a cupcake! At that point in time, cupcakes were the food of choice. Mattie was hardly eating or drinking anything, so when he requested a particular food, WE GOT IT! In fact, I used these homemade cupcakes as incentives for Mattie to comply with his physical therapy routine. In between cancer treatments, we would be sent home for a few days. Mattie would inevitably get sick, and he would need to be readmitted. While home though, I would bake dozens of cupcakes and then package them up to bring to the hospital. 


Quote of the day: Today's coronavirus update from Johns Hopkins.

  • Number of people diagnosed with the virus: 27,811,617
  • Number of people who died from the virus: 489,933

Yesterday I was contacted by a physician who is interested in investigating healthcare burnout and the impact it has on professionals, patients, and the health care system. I certainly know a lot about "family caregiver burnout" but not that much about professional caregiver burnout. So I started doing some  research into the literature before I talk with this doctor next week. 

So what is professional burnout? Apparently it is "a pathological response to work-related stress," which is running rampant in medicine and impacts all facets of healthcare, including patients, physicians, and the health care system itself. 

The concept of “critical incident stress” refers to the psychological response of individuals or groups after exposure to a traumatic experience. Many types of critical incidents happen within hospitals and impact the well-being of health care staff.  Examples that commonly occur include angry or threatening confrontations with parents, patient relapses, patient deaths, and medical errors. The health care culture may lead to inappropriate internal scripts that tell professionals (nurses, doctors, psychosocial providers) to accept parents’ anger, that if they had just worked a little harder, they could have prevented the patient’s relapse or death, or that the medical error occurred because of their own ineptitude. Critical incidents, and the response to them, can profoundly detract from well-being and consequently impact professional performance. Critical incidents are not the only contributing factor to burnout among medical professionals but they are one element influencing it. Therefore many hospitals are designing peer support programs to help employees manage and cope with stress in order to improve well-being, and reduce burden. 

I know about five years ago, Mattie Miracle tried to fund a support program like this at Mattie's hospital. The reason we decided to do this was there were several critical incidents within the inpatient pediatric units that triggered the need. In that particular case, the incidents I am referring to were several pediatric patient deaths. When Mattie died in 2009, I distinctly remember many of Mattie's nurses telling me that the psychiatrist and chaplain held a debriefing session for Mattie's treatment team. Honestly back then I may have heard this but it did not really register with me, most likely because I was too traumatized myself. 

Yet over time, I realized that Mattie's team most likely needed support and opportunities to safely talk about their experiences caring for my six year old, dealing with Peter and me, and of course having to cope with his death, only six weeks off of chemotherapy. I really had HIGH hopes for our lunch time support program at the hospital. As Mattie Miracle is not only committed to meeting the psychosocial needs of children but that of health care providers as well. 

What I quickly learned about our support program after about two years, was it wasn't working. Why? I am sure I don't know all the reasons, but first and foremost, it is very hard to ask nurses and other staff to stop their jobs and attend a support group meeting at noon (a time picked by the group's co-leaders). Even if nurses did attend, it is hard to transition from a high intense, life and death job, to a closed room to discuss feelings with your colleagues. In addition after each support session, nurses would return back to the units. Where they needed to be able to function, concentrate, and focus on their patients needs. I also wondered about how confidentiality was maintained in these group settings? Needless to say, the support program folded. Which is why I am very interested in reading some of the evidence based research I found on burnout and learn how other institutions have made these peer support programs work.

In my readings today, I came across this diagram outlining common stress responses. It resonated with me because I would have to say medical stress (or probably stress in general) is experienced in all ways (cognitive, behavioral, physical, emotional, and spiritual). Unfortunately with Mattie's diagnosis, there were constant "critical incidents" that I experienced daily. Sometimes multiple times in a given day. Which is why I feel like I could have been the poster kid for this pentagon model, a model which illustrated my stress level for many years to come.  















February 16, 2021

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Tuesday, February 16, 2021 -- Mattie died 594 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in February of 2009. I will never forget this day. Mattie was basically quarantined in his room because they were trying to rule out that Mattie picked up a contagious infection in the hospital. Which was why Mattie's physical therapist and child life specialist were wearing gowns. Mattie's best buddy, Brandon, was receiving treatment too and was in the room next door to us. Brandon wasn't allowed into our room, but participated in Mattie's therapy session from the doorway. Mattie needed a lot of encouragement and support to move his body. Mainly I imagine because it hurt and expending physical energy was challenging for Mattie. I remember the intense isolation from being quarantined for days, and if it weren't for Mattie's nurses, PT, and child life specialist, those days would have been beyond impossible. 


Quote of the day: Today's coronavirus update from Johns Hopkins.

  • Number of people diagnosed with the virus: 27,739,873
  • Number of people who died from the virus: 487,656

The saga continued today. I woke up feeling not much better than yesterday. This morning I received a call from my doctor's office manager. Ironically I have spoken to him in the past. About a very similar issue..... the inability to reach the practice after hours. To me this is a very serious issue, as doctors can't leave their patients without a plan of support after hours (nights, weekends, holidays). 

The office manager apologized for my experience yesterday, said he is looking into why the whole phone system failed, and said this is not how the office wishes to handle after hour patient calls. While talking to me he could hear I was still sick. So he looked into the schedule to see if my doctor could examine me today. No such luck! Instead, he arranged for me to have a virtual visit with a new physician in the practice. At 12:00pm, I got on my computer and followed the check in process needed to meet with a doctor at 12:30pm! It is a new world, and not a good one if you ask me because I truly do not understand how a doctor can meet you on-line and accurately diagnosis your issue, and never physically examine you! Somehow this is counter intuitive to me and though necessary during a pandemic, I hope this doesn't become a medical standard of practice. 

Any case, at 12:30pm, I waited for the doctor to appear on my screen. I could see a message that the doctor was delayed helping another patient. But to remain in the waiting room. Needless to say, about fifteen minutes later I got a call from the doctor on my cell phone. She let me know that the entire office's computer system was down! Wonderful no? Seems to me no one can function without having access to electronics! Also a scary notion. My main issue is I haven't had a sore throat like this as an adult. So I am worried that perhaps I didn't really have a sinus infection. However, she assured me that even if I have strep throat, I am on the right antibiotics to treat that infection too. She has me on high dosages of my friend, Advil, and wants me to check back in with her on Thursday. 

Typically, I can work through whatever I am feeling, but today, because of intense sinus pressure in my head and a throat making it painful to swallow, I took to the couch. 

February 15, 2021

Monday, February 15, 2021

Monday, February 15, 2021

Tonight's picture was taken in February of 2009. Mattie was sitting on his hospital bed and surrounded by boxes of valentine's he received from classmates in first grade. Mattie even got a huge lollipop as a gift. Mattie never attended even a single day of first grade. But it was very nice that his school included him in this valentine's tradition. 


Quote of the day: Today's coronavirus update from Johns Hopkins

  • Number of people diagnosed with the virus: 27,682,645
  • Number of people who died from the virus: 486,111


I woke this morning determined to get a hold of my doctor, in order to get antibiotics for what I deem a sinus infection. I typically get them at this time of year and I have the classic symptoms (headache, post nasal drip, sore throat, discharge from nose, and nasal congestion). The experience I had was over the top, so much so that I wrote a letter to my doctor's practice. You can get a feeling for my two hour ordeal but reading the letter below!

------------------------------------------------------

I am writing to you to let you know about the patient experience with your practice today, February 15th. I called the main number to the office today because I am experiencing a sinus infection. Given that it is a federal holiday, I expected to hear a recording of the after hours number to call and instructions on how to proceed.

That is not what I heard, instead, I heard the usual recording and pressed #7 to speak to your receptionist. Once I did that, I heard a recording that there were 6 other patients on the line and therefore I had to wait my turn on the phone. I literally waited 30 minutes and gave up.

Then I emailed you my concern as well as left a voicemail on your physician phone line. After which, I called the after hours number on your website. To my amazement, I was connected (not to your answering service like in the past) to a nurse who took down my information and said the on-call physician from your practice would get back to me in 30 minutes (by 10am). If I did not hear back in 30 minutes, I was told to call back.

At 10am, I called back and this time got C., the head of the nursing line. He saw that I called at 9:20am, and explained to me that I could make an appointment today at another practice to be examined by a physician. As a patient of YOUR practice, I was absolutely confused at to why I would get referred to your "sister" practice. If I am patient under your office's care, I expect to be connected to your on-call physician after hours.

C. understood my feelings on this and said that he would send another message to your practice's on-call physician. Needless to say, I never heard from your practice today. C. then called me back at 11am and said that your office never turned on the after hours or holiday back up system making it impossible to reach a physician in your practice today.

C. instead encouraged me to go to a patient website and schedule a virtual appointment, as he knew I wasn't going to venture out to your sister practice. I was able to get a virtual visit with a physician and got access to antibiotics (after less than a 5 minute video call). But this is not the user experience I signed up for when I joined your practice. Fortunately my issue wasn't serious, because if I had a serious issue, I would feel absolutely disconnected and unsupported from your practice. A relationship between a patient and physician is special and when ill, we want to interface with the practice that knows us. Not be told to visit a "sister" practice or worse be shuttled online to interact with a physician who doesn't know us at all.

I would like to hear about your practice's after hour policy. Somehow as a long term patient with you, I had no idea that the practice migrated away from direct interaction with an on-call physician in your practice during holidays, evenings, and weekends. Moving forward I would like to know if this is indeed your practice's policy or an anomaly that happened today. If this is the direction the practice is moving toward, I will need to seriously consider my options.

It is my hope to hear back from you or your office manager because I consider what transpired today to be below standard of care and practice. 

February 14, 2021

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Tonight's picture was taken around Valentine's Day of 2009. I will never forget that day! Mattie was insistent that I NOT be with him in the child life playroom that day. Instead, he and his art therapists worked on a special valentine's surprise for me. When I was finally invited back to the room, Mattie's art therapist, Jenny, snapped photos of us! Not to mention photos of Mattie sharing his hand crafted cards with me! What I love about this photo was that it captured the way Mattie used to look at me. Ironically I do not have many photos like this, yet Mattie did this often. He would press his nose against mine and look deep into my eyes. 


 

Quote of the day: Today's coronavirus update from Johns Hopkins.

  • Number of people diagnosed with the virus: 27,630,443
  • Number of people who died from the virus: 485,109


It's not the best Valentine's Day in our household today. As I am under the weather with a sore throat and congestion. This is quite typical for me in February, because for the past three years, I get a sinus infection every February. Nonetheless, it is frustrating to be slowed down on top of the weather and being locked down. 


I received this poem years ago on Valentine's Day. It is very meaningful as so many of us aren't celebrating with balloons, chocolate, and flowers. 

In my inbox this week, I received the article entitled, Grief and Valentine's Day. As I went through the article, they had a list of ideas about how to handle the day. I swear over 50% of the suggestions involved "doing" something, something that involved talking or getting together with other people. Naturally I had to look at when this article was published (2014), because NO ONE on earth is talking about gatherings, doing acts of kindness in person, and so forth today. The Pandemic has changed the WAY WE RELATE TO PEOPLE. Another sad commentary really, that points to how isolated people must feel on an already challenging holiday. 


How did we begin celebrating Valentine's Day? Frankly from what I have been reading, there is NO exact answer to this. Some articles date it back to pagan rituals and even executions. However, another story involves the practice of writing love letters to your Valentine. It's said that St. Valentine wrote the first “valentine” greeting to a young girl he tutored and fell in love with while he was imprisoned for the crimes. Before his death, he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine," which remains a commonly used phrase to this day.


What do you think of this story? An English professor, Jack B. Oruch, through research, determined that the poet Geoffrey Chaucer linked love with St. Valentine for the first time in his 14th-century works "The Parlement of Foules" and "The Complaint of Mars." Therefore, Oruch claimed that Chaucer invented Valentine's Day as we know it today. (At the time of Chaucer's writing, February 14 also happened to be considered the first day of spring in Britain, because it was the beginning of birds' mating season—perfectly appropriate for a celebration of affection.)

Whether or not Chaucer can be fully credited, it is true that he and fellow writer Shakespeare popularized the amorous associations surrounding the day. Soon, people began penning and exchanging love letters to celebrate Valentine's Day, and by the early 1910s, an American company that would one day become Hallmark began distributing its more official "Valentine's Day cards." Flowers, candy, jewelry, and more followed, and the rest, of course, is history.