In 10 days, it will be a celebration of the day marking Mattie's 24th birthday. In honor of this, a petition has been started to make Mattie's birthday, July 17th, a national day of peace. Please visit http://www.mattieonline.com and click to sign the petition to make this important day official!
A Peace Gathering will be held on July 19, 2014 at Mattie J.T. Stepanek Park in Rockville, MD to celebrate Mattie's life and legacy. If you are nearby or up for the travel, please share in the celebration!
Mattie reminds me that my actions matter, that peace is possible and that we are all connected. Here are a few of the things that I think of in my life when I think about Mattie:
My oldest son, Michael, turned 14 this June, 11 days before the 10th anniversary of Mattie's death at the age of "almost 14". When he turned 14, I couldn't stop thinking about the length of his life - he made it to 14! What would Mattie have given to make it to 14? To have another day with his Mom and his family and friends. What would his Mom, Jeni, have given? It was another reminder of how short and precious life is. Mikey is starting high school in September. The time with him under my roof is growing shorter and I need to make the most of it.
My middle son was born 77 days after Mattie's death. His name is Mattie - it is a Catholic tradition to name children after Saints and Mattie Stepanek truly is a Saint. We hope he is officially recognized as one so more people can learn about him and learn from his example - there couldn't be a better one to have. He and Mattie S. are different in lots of ways (Mattie E. LOVES strawberries) and alike in others (Mattie E. is also a writer...not a poet, but not a day goes by that he doesn't write an entry in his journal, recording the events of his life).
My youngest son, John, the artist formerly known as 'JD', loves to hear poems that Mattie wrote about his little brother, Jamie. I think because he is a 'little brother', it makes him feel good to know how much love a big brother can have for a little brother and to celebrate that through poetry.
I also remember one of my first memories of hearing Mattie Stepanek when my oldest son was 15 months old on the tragic day we remember as '9/11'. He wrote a poem called 'For Our World' on that day at age 11. It is one of my favorite poems, full of wisdom way beyond a child of 11 years. You can read it here: http://www.mattieonline.com/?p=14531. This poem has lessons for me every day of my life. I find something new to think about each time I read it and it is always inspiring in different ways.
Even though we never met Mattie Stepanek, he has blessed our lives in so many ways. We thank Mattie for all of the gifts he shared with the world and his Mom, Jeni, for continuing to share hers, including Mattie's legacy. Happy Birthday, Mattie! Peace IS possible! xoxoxoxoxo