November was upon us and the last of the leaves were about to fall. We made haste and took our kids to the park to play before the wind and snow swept it all away. Our kids thrashed about in piles of crispy leaves, and like playing in a ball pit, they enjoyed making a mess where none could be made. I remember this day so well. I was in Camelot and life couldn't have been more perfect. I can almost smell the sweet, earthy air … and if I listen closely I can almost hear the laughter of my children today.

I stumbled across this photo recently and my heart skipped because it seemed symbolic of my son’s approach to life. It also reminded me of what it means to be grateful. 

Because of his growing muscle weakness doing big things was difficult for Mitch, so he learned to take great pleasure in little things. At the time his back muscles were becoming so weak that bending over was very difficult for him, and on some days nearly impossible. Sensing he was having trouble, Laura-Ashley and Ethan quickly gathered up some leaves and placed them in his hands and Mitch would throw them in the air and say “weeee!” I remember feelings of warmth wash over me as I saw my children serve their little brother. Something so simple. Something so beautiful. 

Mitch was always grateful for the little things and I believe that was the key to his happiness. 

Roman philosopher Cicero wrote “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” I have found that those who are most unhappy in life seem to be the ones who feel entitled to more than they have. I am reminded of a saying I heard years ago “you’ve heard of the man who cried and cried because he had no shoes, until he saw the man who had no feet.” If our blessings are relative, so gratitude should be. 

I lost one son to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy – and it nearly destroyed me. Almost daily I have a moment of horror where the reality of my son’s death knocks the wind out of me. I cry every day for him. But I know families who have lost two boys to DMD. Still, I know others who have lost (or will yet lose) every single child they have to DMD. I cannot imagine what it would be like to endure such compound losses. Suddenly, when I consider the harsh realities others must bear, I feel like the man who cried because he had no shoes. 

When I think back on this moment with my children I am reminded of Mitchell’s gratitude for the simplest of things. I am reminded that my children took me to a special place … a place of goodness and beauty … a place that cannot be purchased with money or won with things ... they took me to Camelot. 

They taught me that Camelot is a state of mind and condition of the heart that is borne of gratitude. And I have found that when I am grateful, suddenly I find light where there appears to be none. Beauty where there is desolation. Happiness where there is sorrow. 

This Thanksgiving, and every day hereafter, I shall ever be in search of Camelot. Even though I may be buffeted by sorrow and difficulties unknown, and my heart bruised and tender to the touch, I will follow Mitchell’s example and fill my heart with gratitude. 

Then, suddenly, I will see that Camelot is all around me.