“Where did Mathias go?”
“Well, he went to heaven.”
“That’s right, he died. He had cancer.”
That was my conversation with B yesterday. Autism and grief works oddly sometimes.
Our community received devestating news recently that a boy, Mathias, had passed on. Mathias was diagnosed with osterosarcoma in July 2012 and has been featured in various social media forums. He battled lung surgeries, amputation, chemotherapy and radiation. Yet he always was upbeat and positive about his battle.
Once word spread, people came together for Mathias. There were card writing campaigns, fundraisers of all sorts, and other events. In our area, you may see someone wearing a Team Mathias shirt or driving with a magnet on the back. Mathias played soccer, hence the #12 on gear (and the tag line “kicking cancer”).
Much like Gabriella, Mathias spearheaded so many efforts. He was part of an effort to petition Virginia for a “childhood cancer awareness” license plate. This past summer he celebrated his birthday by raising bone marrow donation awareness. He was always putting others first, such as a toy drive.
This kid has done more in his short life than I have in decades. Dude – the kid even got a message from Jimmy Fallon.
To try and explain how much Mathias meant, I took B to a candlelight walk yesterday. He toughed it out – like I said, grief is hard to process. Sometimes it’s matter of fact; othertimes, it was outright heartwrenching hearing him cry during a song.
When it was darker, we were to light paper lanterns. Well, fire in close proximity really freaked him out, and honestly, I was too. In fact, we had to suspend it – between the wind and the dryness, it was definitely a fire hazard. Regardless it was beautiful.
Since my days at Penn State I’ve always been involved with ‘THON, which benefits children with cancer. This young man continues to serve as a reminder that cancer still rips families apart, but can bring communities together. He’ll continue to shine on in our hearts and minds.
Please keep the Giordano family in your thoughts and prayers. This is a very difficult thing to go through. As I lost my father at this time, I know that the holidays are extremely difficult.
And, as always, fuck cancer.