To everyone who has been following Mitchell’s Journey, to friends and family, and those in our neighborhood and ward who want to help, I want to offer a heart-felt thank you. It is such a perplexing time for us ... and we don't know how to be helped. So much of what is before us is far beyond anything anyone can do to fix. But your personal concern, and the concern of others, has done much more for us than any temporal assistance could.
I had a sweet experience last month with a friend of mine who is a Bishop (a religious leader in my church). We have worked together professionally in the past and through the years he has become a dear friend. As we sat in my office, he was asking about Mitchell and we both started to cry and he made a comment about "mourning with those that mourn" and in an instant those words that I had heard a million-and-one times growing up, took on a deep, rich and fulfilling meaning. As far back as I can remember I have always tried to be compassionate to others ... and if I couldn't directly sympathize I would deeply empathize with those who suffered. But being on the receiving end of that empathy ... seeing him mourn with me ... that was quite different and I learned a lot from that quite Spirit-felt exchange. Many of you, in your most sincere gestures (both public and private), have mourned with us and that has been remarkably strengthening.
While navigating the labyrinth of pain and sorrow, Natalie and I often talk about finding joy … and we believe it is all around us. I think joy is a natural byproduct of gratitude. It's so often the little things, if appreciated, that bring joy to life and amplify happiness. There is so much to be grateful for. There are tender mercies all around us, every day.
I've always struggled with the dinner prayer ritual where people say, "please bless this food that it may nourish and strengthen our minds and bodies ..." or anyone who might say the same things every day in the same way. I have expressly taught my kids to never do that - but rather to be very specific and genuine with Heavenly Father. When they pray they say "we are so very grateful for macaroni and cheese, we absolutely love it and are blessed to be able to eat it. thank you!" I have found this idea spilling into their personal prayers ... where they ask for less and thank Heavenly Father more for the little things they enjoy in life. They express gratitude for warm blankets, soft pillows and good friends. And quietly, when they express gratitude for the little things, I thank Heavenly Father for their little souls and humble hearts. I believe it is in recognizing the many blessings we already have that we find happiness. That isn't to say life isn't painful for us and that we wish things were otherwise - but our trials, when placed in the context of our blessings, seem to give us a much more balanced and joyful perspective.
Even in the midst of our deep heartache with our son's prognosis, we have seen God work in our lives . . . for which we are deeply grateful and we can find joy in the midst of our pain.
So when you reach out to us ~or others~ ... and offer genuine love and concern, [you] have already done more than we could ever ask. And in our hearts we pray that it will be counted unto you as if you performed a million acts of service.
So in our suffering, we have come to understand the magnificent doctrine of "mourning with those that mourn" and the relief it can bring to heavy hearts. After all, it is the battles that rage inside our minds and hearts that are in greatest need of others service - and that you all have done that so beautifully for us by extending the pure love of Christ.
Thank you. Thank you for teaching us time and again this powerful principle of mourning with those that mourn.