Saturday, January 24, 2009

kindred spirit love and kindness.....


This is Matthew. Look at his beautiful face. He melts my heart!! I met him at the Boyce Farmer's Market last October when he was actively raising money for his 10 year old friend MacKenzie who was in the process of fighting off her third round of cancer. Matthew and MacKenzie met in Kindergarten and became good friends right from the start.

When MacKenzie became ill and had to travel to Halifax for treatment, he saw how much of a financial toll it was taking on her family. She missed a lot of schooling during her illness....missed alot of the fun. So, Matthew took it upon himself to help them as best as he could. His goal? 56,000 dollars....one dollar for every inch between MacKenzie's house and their school. He would collect loonies (Canadian dollar coins) because they were approx. 1 inch in diameter. He placed large mason jars in convenience stores and solicited the market goers and shoppers every chance he could.


A few anonymous people donated larger amounts of money. An elementary school class in Oromocto sent letters taped with loonies, one for each child. Most of the donations were 1 loonie at a time. The community and the local media celebrated the hope and loving kindness of this little boy. I know that every time I thought of him or saw him outside the market with his big mason jar my heart melted into his determination and unwavering belief that MacKenzie would beat the ugly disease.....


Every night, he prayed with his family for his friend to heal. They openly discussed the big life and death issues together. The talked about cancer and the chances of MacKenzie surviving it. Matthew knew the doctors were dumbfounded that MacKenzie had survived this long. And yet, he stayed true to his beliefs that she would overcome the odds.


Over the course of his compassonate fundraising, Matthew gathered 14,000 loonies! With the money, he was able to lighten the financial load of MacKenzie's family as well as shower his kindred spirit friend with gifts to help her experience some fun. His actions also provided her an affirming love which no doubt helped her in her battle to beat the odds. This act of love and kindness brought two families together in a place where courage and fear, where reality and escape from it all meet. This beautiful youthful soul created this.... Matthew traded in his childhood innocence for harsh light awareness to take the initiative to DO something. It was the trading in of innocence they both understood at a level most of us never experience.

Their story was covered regularly through the media and I would see Matthew out and about at the Market on Saturdays collecting his loonies. A recent story published a week or so ago alluded to the fact that MacKenzie was struggling, but the picture posted of the two of them sitting side by side simply illuminated in hope that anyone who saw it, would remain optimistic for a miracle. Strength in their bond.......bravery shared.

On Thursday, Matthew and his Mom visited MacKenzie in the hospital. According to today's newspaper, she was unconcious throughout the visit. But as Matthew was leaving MacKenzie opened her eyes and waved at her kindred friend for the last time. She died yesterday surrounded by her family. May beautiful MacKenzie rest in comforting peace. And may Matthew feel her presence every day as a loving guardian angel.

ps. I want this wonderful young boy recognized by our city. I want his efforts to be applauded with tears and respect. And I want this little girl who fought with such courage to be remembered as a spark we can all learn from. I plan to send the Mayor of Fredericton an email to request that he consider recognizing this friendship, and acknowledging Matthew's gracious heart.

22 comments:

Charles LeBlanc said...

You are good in grabbing my attention!!!

Sad story!!!

Lets get started on your idea!!!!

Tabitha Chooses Bliss said...

This touched my heart in the deepest way. In doing what we do my family and I have befriended many beautiful children who are now in Heaven due to cancer.

I pray you are successful in your venture. If I can help in any way please let me know.

paulwchambers said...

you go girl!!!

god this is heart-breaking.... i have no words, just tears

Marja said...

I have tears in my eyes. He does have an angelic face and he has proven he is one. Good luck on your mission Dana

Awareness said...

Charles...I figured you'd know what to do. info on its way....

Tabitha...I had forgotten you and your family were involved in such a profound way. Bless you and thank you for the offer.

Paul....me too. I think I had come to believe there would be a different ending. When I read the story last night I was struck hard by it and shed quite a few tears.... My heart goes out to those families and the children who know MacKenzie.
Years ago, I had worked intimately with a young boy who had brain cancer. I had only know him after he had fallen ill and was in rehab. For a full year, I saw him every day at the rehab centre.....sometimes just sitting with him, sometimes when he was feeling better, making sure he was involved in recreational activities. His family were the only people who came to see him. I never saw his friends. Then, when he died and I attended the funeral, I was overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of young kids at the funeral. They were absolultely grief stricken....and I believe deeply because they never saw their friend ill. They saw him well one day....healthy and athletic and then a year later he was dead. It would've been shocking and unreal to them. (I have actually tried to write Elliot's story in the past and never quite got it right. His life and our connection back then profoundly impacted me....)
What Matthew has done over the past year is SO much more profound. He kept MacKenzie linked to her classmates...to her friends her own age. Even though she wasn't in class, she was remembered in a realistic and loving way.....that just because she wasn't there, she was always included in their thoughts and hearts. It will be devastating for the kids to go through the funeral on Tuesday, but they will have a real picture of MacKenzie's human struggle.....and to me this is a gift in understanding the importance of living our lives knowing we are intertwined...knowing how we can make an impact.....knowing how to love and not be afraid of someone who is sick.

One day, I will write Elliot's story too.

Marja....My "mission" is simply to make sure the powers that be are aware of the story and do something about it. Knowing my friend Charles is onto it, they will know by Monday morning!! :) I'm just glad he's got such a loving and supportive family around him as he sorts it all out from here.

paulwchambers said...

i think you should write it...

i put some words together about 8 or 9 years ago when a teenage girl died suddenly - i gave her mother those words last year.... it meant the world to her... glad i did it...

Rainbow dreams said...

That is an incredible story and so sad, what a wonderful beautiful friend and an amazing thing to do...
sometimes we have much to learn from children.
Do all you have said... you wouldn't believe how much that would mean to those close to Matthew and Mackenzie, and to Elliot's family too, take care Dana, Tuesday will be a tough day for the community too, wil be thinking of you all, Katie

Selma said...

To hear of such a young boy being so selfless for his friend is incredibly moving. He should definitely be publicly recognised for his efforts. What a wonderful little boy! I am so sorry he lost his friend.

Awareness said...

paul...a good friend of my family who has lost both of her children in separate accidents 4 years felt the same I think. Her son, an expert downhill skier lost his balance on an icy hill and hit a tree. A woman on the same hill rushed over and stayed with him, holding him until help came along. This woman had a son the same age as Donald (21). In her letter to Mary (Donald's mom) she wanted to reassure Mary that her son was held by a mother....that she held him knowing he may not make it telling him how much he is loved. When this stranger woman found out that Donald didn't make it (he was kept alive until his parents could get there....an 8 hour drive!!! Can you imagine!!) she decided she needed to seek Mary out to tell her.
This was the most profoundly important letter Mary read during her initial grieving. I'm sure she still holds it dear.

wow! I'm dredging up some big teary stuff this weekend!

I will look at what i've written about Elliot. There are a couple of interesting twists to the story actually. I'll send it to you if I do write it before I post it. It has a Lamott feel to it as it sits in my memory and the religious meaning behind it.

Katie...i agree....it's a story which caught my eye last fall before i met Matthew for the first time at the market. I told him then when I took his picture that i would post it on my blog, but every time I looked at it, I decided not to for some reason.
I may write the story about Elliot but I won't be sharing it with his family. It was too long ago and they were devastated. I wouldn't know how to reach them. This took place in Toronto....and they were originally from Jamaica and may have moved home. But, I may write the story.

Selma....Matthew is a beautiful example of selflessness and I wonder this morning how he is feeling....poor little guy. He has gained another family over this though....one who will love him unconditionally just like his own. The school he attends has a great principal and I have a feeling he will take it upon himself to make sure the city is aware....
One thing about Fredericton is that they do pay attention to this kind of story and recognizes their citizens. I love the feeling...though it's a small city, it has a flavour of a village.

much2ponder said...

This story brought warmth and tears. Sad, but good. This child is such a wonderful example for us all. Cancer is such an ugly reality...so many of my own family members have been taken too soon because of it. I am encouraged by your story though. There is hope in humanity. Praise the Lord.

Charli said...

Hey dana! Thanks for dropping by Broken Mannequin. (I'll bet birkenstocks are quite comfy - not at all like my heels!!)

This post just gives me chills. The kindness of others is so overwhelming to me sometimes I could cry.

Nikita said...

Like Paul, all I have are tears.
Thank you for sharing a little piece of this young boy's beautiful soul.

swile67 said...

Beautiful...please keep us updated on whether your city will recognize this boy and honour this girls' life!thanks for sharing. This boy will go places in life!!

Awareness said...

m2p...and the hope is in the hearts and souls of our children. We need to listen to their expressiveness.

Niki....Matthew is a gift.

Kayrne....he reminds me of Craig Kielburger when he was young.

Awareness said...

Charli! Sorry I missed you! Sometimes I don't think we give people a chance to shine with their kindness. It's most definately out there....all around us and sometimes from ourselves. Oh, and the Birkenstocks? Yes they are but MAN they look like shit with a little black dress. lol!

Carmi said...

He exemplifies the very best not just in our children, but in society in general. Every time I worry about the future of the planet, I see extraordinary dedication like Matthew's and I know that our future is in the best of hands.

Not that you would ever need help with a pen, but if I can be of any help with any of the messaging, please ping me directly.

May MacKenzie's memory always be a blessing, and may Matthew's heroism serve as an example to others.

Independent Chick said...

Tears streaming down my face...

He should be recognized, there is no doubt. Total selflessness and love. We, as a community should be so proud of him.

May beautiful angel MacKenzie rest.

Anonymous said...

Dana:

Thank you for the beautiful story.
Tears are streaming down my face.
What about the unsung hero's award, I think it is in April.
God bless you Dana for your wonderful way with words. It is a true gift from GOd

Mavis Doucette

Awareness said...

Carmi...I couldn't agree more. There are shining examples in the actions of children all around us. Thank you for the offer. I appreciate it. I havent done anything yet but will email the Mayor and see what happens. Knowing how compassionate he is about this city, he probably is already thinking about it.

IC....it will happen. I have a good feeling about it.

Mavis!! What a doll you are to leave a comment. I really appreciate it....and your kind words. The unsung hero award is exactly the right award. I'll suggest it.

Hey, see you soon eh? We have a date coming up I think.

Charles LeBlanc said...

It will happen!!!!

The Mayor will step forward!!!

It's such an emotional issue.

Can't let this one go by!!!!

You'll do ok!!!!

If you have any problems? I'll quickly step to the plate!!!!

:)

Awareness said...

Charles...thanks. I'll look into it this week. I won't let Matthew go unrecognized.

Romany Angel said...

This is one of the most touching things I have ever read. Matthew is a very special boy, no doubt about that and Mackenzie was a lucky little girl to have him for a friend. Bless he on earth and she in heaven for their special bond and for being a shining example to us adults about what true caring and compassion looks like.