When Mitch called out to me at the hospital and asked if I would cuddle with him my heart melted. As father and son, we cuddled all the time, but this time was different because I knew his heart was failing and I didn’t know if it would be our last. My sweet wife took a photo of us with her iPhone as I handed Mitch a teddy bear she gave him. My little boy smiled as I kissed his forehead and softly hugged him. I wouldn't have traded that moment with Mitch for all the money in the world. 

At this moment Mitch wasn't aware his life was at its end. That was a burden we would quietly carry for a few more weeks so Mitch could live as normal a life as possible. To our dismay, we couldn't protect him from the inevitable, but we could protect him from worry and fear – and in this instance, my wife and I felt that was best for Mitch. We eventually told him, but we wanted him to be happy for just a little while longer. That was our gift to him. 

In the coming weeks we began to witness the miracle of the afterlife – that our son was being spiritually prepared for his own transition. I will write of those experiences another time – but there is no doubt there is more to mortality than we can see with our mortal eyes. So much more.

Even still, I find myself wrestling with grief in the most unexpected ways. Just this morning I awoke at 4:30 in a sheer panic, wanting to save my son. When I realized he was gone and I couldn't save him, I wept. I used to wake up every morning in a heart-pounding panic … thankfully those mornings are less frequent. But they still happen, and when they do, they are soul crushing. I dislike those mornings because I have to relive the shock and horror of my son’s death as if it just happened. 

Just a few days ago Herriman City experienced some flooding and I was told it affected part of the cemetery. That evening, as I left work, I drove to the cemetery as quickly as I could, worried about how the flood affected Mitch. I couldn't get there fast enough and wanted to help my boy. I knew he wasn't there – but in my heart I wanted him to be. I was grateful his spot wasn't affected, but my heart went out to others who were. Even in death, I yearn to protect my son and am pained that I cannot.

Although I want so badly to protect my son, sometimes, when my soul is quiet and I’m listening with my heart, I realize the opposite is true … that now Mitch is protecting me.

One day, in what feels an eternity from now, I will see my little boy again. And I will weep. I will also realize that he is no longer a child – that, in fact, the opposite is true: the soul of my little boy is much older than I ever knew.