Just a few days before Thanksgiving we were told Mitch was denied a heart transplant because of his underlying diagnosis of DMD. We were told our son would potentially die in a few months and most certainly within a few years. Later that night I put this video together journaling what happened on this difficult day: https://vimeo.com/54167124.
Natalie and I left the hospital scared and overcome with a kind of darkness one rarely encounters in life. We found ourselves at once empty hearted and smothered in sorrow. Everything seemed strange to us. Nothing felt real. The hospital’s hallway felt so very long as we pushed our son in his wheelchair toward the exit. By the time we got to our car our minds were fixated on the biological grenade in our son’s chest. We had come to the horrifying realization the pin had been pulled and there was no way of knowing how and when the calamity would strike.
We swallowed the massive lump in our throats, dried our eyes and did our best to table our emotions. Sweet Mitch didn't know what was happening – and there was no point in telling him at the time. He was so young and to lay such heavy things on his shoulders would have only terrified him – and that would have been cruel.
It was our tradition to take Mitch to lunch after our cardiology visits. He loved Panda Express and that is where we went this day. His fortune, as fate would have it, read: “Your courage will reward you.” I remember posting that fortune on Instagram as well as this Facebook Page. A foreshadow of things to come.
After lunch I remember watching in awe two of my greatest heroes: a broken mother and an even more broken son. I remember trying to catch my breath and hold back my tears as I saw Natalie carry our boy with a smile, hiding her broken heart so as not to frighten him. Natalie was [and remains] eternally selfless and endlessly loving. She has never carried her burdens with a grudge – no matter how heavy or painful. And though her heart was heavy this day, and every day thereafter, she looked for every opportunity to make our son’s burdens light. To this day, she continues to look for ways to make the burdens of others light. I love and admire her.
Our son reminded us that burdens can be blessings. Even though my son’s disability carried with it the burden of care and inconvenience, it has been a profound blessing to have him in our lives. It is something of a heavenly paradox to witness … how the things that weigh us down make us stronger.
So we may become strong ... that is why burdens can be blessings.