Mitchell’s final days were so very hard. We had just learned excessive sleeping was a sign that death was near, and he began to sleep more and more. Perhaps what makes my son’s passing additionally hard for me is there was no formal goodbye. It wasn't like he was boarding an airplane, or car, or a boat – as if to go on a long journey. There was no clear demarcation where I could give him a hug and look him in the eye and say “This is it, son. Oh, how I love you. Thank you for being such a good boy and I am so proud of you. I’ll see you soon.” He was awake and talking one moment, then he just drifted back to sleep and never woke up. By the time we realized what was happening, it was too late, and he was unable to open his eyes or talk. I know he heard us the night he passed because he could squeeze our hands in answer to our questions. And that night we did tell him we loved with all of our hearts as we wet his hands and face with our tears. But my heart and soul wanted more.

For reasons I do not understand, this was my son’s journey and I wish with all of my heart I could have taken that journey for him. But such a path was not part of God’s plan for my son or my family. My son’s death has taken my own heart, a heart that already cried at commercials or subtle acts of kindness, down a path that has caused it to be tenderer, still. My broken boy broke me. But I am putting myself back together once piece at a time.

A colleague said to me recently “There are two types of people in this world: those who admit to being broken, and those who don’t.” A poignant reminder that we are all mortal and there are always broken things to mend.

When it comes to the death of my father or my son’s disability and death, I have never experienced anger. I’m told anger is a necessary part of the grief cycle – but I feel no anger. At least for me, I have accepted those hardships as something from which I am meant to learn. What’s more, what does anger toward God profit a man? I have seen what the fire of anger can do to one’s self and to others; it consumes and destroys. Water, on the other hand, renews and gives life.

So while my soul trembles with grief and sorrow, I don’t shake my fists at God; angry at the burden we must bear. Instead, I kneel before Him and ask for mercy as I stumble to learn what I must. And while I weep because I miss my son terribly, my heart is also glad that I was blessed to be his father. Some of the greatest blessings come at the greatest price. 

As often as possible I will trade fire for water; anger for tears. 

Rather than scorching the soil of my soul, I will water it with my tears and hope to grow.