It was January. The air was bitter cold and the clouds lay low, thick as London fog. Up the driveway walked loving grandparents to deliver a special gift to lift the heart of a young boy who was very, very sick. We thought we had a little more time with Mitch but the hour was later than we imagined. In retrospect the timing of this little gift was more than a puppy, it was a tender mercy. Over the next few weeks this little girl would perform a very special role in helping calm the heart of my dying son – and would be by his side to comfort him as he passed away. 

After Mitch was denied a heart transplant in November we started searching for a puppy because he always wanted one to call his own. We wanted our son to be happy with whatever time he had left and we felt this was one way to bring comfort to him. My wife and I explored every lead and looked in every corner, each time returning empty-handed. Then, one afternoon we got a call from Natalie’s father who said he found one. We were unaware that he had diligently been searching, too. He also felt moved upon to do something for him. We were so excited for Mitch and we were so very grateful.

Mitch was in our basement playing a video game unaware the gift he would soon receive. I ran outside to greet my in-laws and take photos of everything that would follow. As my father-in-law opened the box to give me a peek my heart leapt from my chest and sprouted wings. I fought back tears because I knew what this would mean to my sweet son. 

I’ll never forget the feelings I had when I first laid eyes on this furry little snowflake. Inside an old cardboard box was timid, sweet and loving little puppy. Carefully placed next to her was a Ziploc bag with handwritten instructions and some puppy food. She was also sent away with a knotted cloth that had her mother’s scent to comfort this sweet little girl as she stepped into a new and unfamiliar world. This old man and this young puppy were on a mission of mercy.

In every way, she was perfect. Just as sweet and shy as our little Mitchie, they felt like familiar souls. It was as if they were meant for each other.

I posted this video of their first meeting: https://vimeo.com/58228257 

Every time I watch that video I feel a spectrum of emotions. One of my favorite parts is seen at 1:40 when you see Mitchell’s grandfather smiling as Mitch loved his new little friend. That image is heavenly to me. It shows the satisfaction one gains from heart-felt service and seeing joy in another. I can only imagine the face of our Father when he sees us being good and kind to each other.

Within minutes of meeting his little friend Mitch would name her Marlie and they went from strangers to soul mates almost instantly. Through her body language Marlie seemed to figure out quickly that Mitch was very, very sick. She seemed to know what we didn't know … couldn't know, at the time. Whenever she wobbled near my son she would lay softly next to him as if to comfort him. She almost never left his side. 

This winter I will sit by my fireplace with my wife and other children with gratitude in my heart. They are all gifts to me and I treasure them. Although I am grateful for them, I will ever long for the warmth of my fallen son. And whenever I’m tempted to think the world as unforgiving and cold, when the fog of sorrow descends upon me and the pains of grief limit my view … I will remember this special delivery … this gift from a loving Heavenly & Earthly Father who worked together to bless the life of my son. And that warms my heart and soul.