Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2004. Mattie was two years old. Mattie went from not liking sand to loving sand. Mattie spent a lot of time in his sand box through all types of weather. It wouldn't be unusual to find sand toys, hotwheel cars, other plastic toys, and ramps made out of wood inside the sand box. Mattie could play for hours, creating all sorts of setups with his cars in the box. This sand box sits right outside our deck door now, available for all the kids in the commons area to play with it. When you lift the lid, there are still plenty of Mattie's things inside.
Quote of the day: A smile is the light in your window that tells others that there is a caring, sharing person inside. ~ Denis Waitley
Photo: March 2009, Mattie was home between treatments and wanted to play outside. So Peter brought out a heater!
I am sitting at my desk, which is in Mattie's room. My desk looks out at our commons area. What am I seeing now? About three nannies caring for at least six children. The children and nannies are NOT walking around! They are all sitting right outside my deck door playing in Mattie's sandbox. I know when this first happened years ago, I was in SHOCK. Shock because part of me wanted to ask them..... do you know WHOSE SANDBOX THIS IS? When I initially put Mattie's sandbox in our commons area, I did it because I wanted more space on our deck, but I did not want to part with the frog sandbox. A box that brought Mattie so much joy. To me the sandbox, served as a reminder of Mattie, and as such it was meant to be preserved and NOT touched.
So years ago, when I first saw a child playing in it, I had so many mixed emotions. Anger at the parent for not asking first before touching someone else's property, sadness that the box no longer had its rightful owner, and depressed at the notion that I may even need to explain my feelings to someone else. A part of me felt like my world ended, so why didn't other people KNOW THIS. Why didn't they know that this sandbox was off limits?!!! Of course we all know the answers to this, and the main answer is NO ONE expects a child to die. So this would never cross another parent's mind when approaching our sandbox.
Any case, after seeing that first child in Mattie's sandbox years ago, I was perceptive enough to see that the child was having a good time. Though hardened by grief, I hadn't lost my sense of humanity completely. So I let that child play in the box. Over the years, it is like the message got out in the complex...... a sandbox is available for all in the commons area!!!
I have been all over the map on the emotions of this sandbox, but tonight's quote captures it. Not so much that my smile is the light in the window, as much as the smiles Mattie's sandbox provides other children is the light that comes into my window. I have no idea if these nannies appreciate what I am sharing with them, or whether they deem me a caring and sharing person. I suspect they haven't given it ANY thought whatsoever. Which is fine.
Despite sharing Mattie's sandbox over the past eight years, when I see groups of children swarming it, it does make me pause. I have no idea whether Mattie would be happy that I am sharing his box with other children. After all, Mattie was seven when he died, and how he looked at the world back then, and how he would look at it now at age 15, I imagine would be quite different. Nonetheless, no matter Mattie's reaction, one thing he has to know is that his memory lives on in the sandbox, in the commons area, and through the smiles and joy his toys inside the box provide!