Mitch was only home a few days when he asked his mom if he could have an early birthday party saying his real birthday felt “so far away.” Somewhere deep within him, Mitchell knew. His intuition, his true eyes, were beginning to sense something bigger was afoot and the little boy in him wanted to be a boy … just a little longer. 

His early birthday was such a treasured experience. We enjoyed seeing some of his closest friends celebrate his birth, life and friendship. Mitch was a humble and broken king for a day. While uncomfortable with all the attention he was getting, he enjoyed his time with his friends, his favorite chocolate cake from Costco, and pizza. An old missionary friend of mine, who had love and compassion in his heart, arranged to have the mascot for the Utah Blaze come to wish him a happy birthday. Little Mitch loved that. He wore the Blaze scarf he was given and held on to the autographed helmet all night. And many of you, his compassionate followers, wished him a happy birthday with loving Facebook posts, cards and gifts. 

As his friends gathered round him to throw confetti in the air Mitch quietly smiled. He loved his friends, and they loved him. But something was happening within him and I could see it in his face. His adult soul was quietly emerging.

That evening my sister gave Mitch some helium balloons that had little glow sticks in them. They hugged the ceiling like florescent zeppelins as his room looked like a dimly lit moonscape. As my wife and I tucked him we told him how wonderful he was and that we loved him with all of our hearts. His eyes filled with tears as he told us he loved us, too. Our son drifted to sleep feeling loved. And of all the gifts we could give him, love was the most important. Yet I knew in my heart there was no gift I could give my son equal to the gift he was to me. 

As I crawled into my own bed Mitchell’s birthday played back in my mind like a home movie. My heart was full but my soul trembled that night. I heard my son’s voice in my mind over-and-over: “My birthday feels so far away.” I marveled how a young boy could have such a distinct impression. He didn't know the details, but he had a sense of things. And often, a sense of things is all we ever get and we must do the spiritual work of understanding the meaning of it all. 

Mitchell’s impression was not an isolated experience. At a later time I may share some other things that happened; things that showed me that all that is out of mortal view is, in fact, not so far away. It is closer than we know.

I have been taught that inasmuch as we serve each other, we are also serving God. So, I am deeply grateful to all of you who served my son by lifting his troubled heart. Your gift of love to him was also a gift to his parents. From the depths of our hearts, we thank you.

This little boy, who had to walk a lonely road, felt a little less lonely this day. And for that, I am grateful.