On Mitchell’s last trip to work with me a colleague went out of his way to talk to Mitch and make him feel important. When I think back on this moment my heart is filled with gratitude because there were probably a million-and-one reasons he could have ignored Mitch and focused only on the tasks that weighted heavy on his shoulders. I suppose, if he were like many people today swept up in the rush and flurry of things, he might have felt bothered, slowed down or flustered because there was a kid in the office. That was not how Corey treated my son, for he chose the better way. This moment reminded me of something William Phelps said, “The first test of a gentleman: his respect for those who can be of no possible value to him.” I have always loved that observation and I saw it in action that day. 

Corey, understanding the true value of a soul, knew there was more to life than work and took time to love my son. If Mitch had lived a full life, I am sure he would have remembered that exchange with Corey as one of those building moments … those rare exchanges when you’re young that make you feel special and important and change you a little on the inside. 

When we left work Mitch said in his quiet voice, “Dad, that man was really nice to me. Is everyone you work with that nice?” Immediately I felt a lump in my throat because I knew how much little Mitch valued kindness … and he was given the gift of kindness by Corey. I told him, “I think so, Mitchie. I surely hope so.” Mitch gave me a hand hug as we navigated rush-hour traffic on our slow journey home. At some point along the way Mitch closed his eyes, leaned his head against my arm and went to sleep. I cried a little that moment because I didn't know how much time I had with him – and what time I had was more precious to me than all the riches of earth. What I had in that moment with Mitch cannot be bought with money, but it does come at a price; the price of time, love and attention. 

Fast forward a few months and I found myself at my little boy’s funeral, devastated and bewildered with grief. We had just said our final goodbyes and closed the casket and began the impossible walk down the hall to the chapel. My knees almost gave out a couple of times because my body just wanted to fall to the ground and weep.

As we began to turn the corner I saw Corey walking into the building to offer his love and support. He lived so far away from us and probably had a million-and-one reasons to not go, but he made it a point to offer love and kindness to our family. I quickly broke formation and gave him a hug just before we entered the chapel. Suddenly, in my mind, I heard Mitchell’s voice, almost like a whisper, “Dad, that man was really nice to me.” In my heart I said to my son, “Mitch, you were right, that man IS really nice … and nothing else matters.” He doesn't know this, but Corey’s gift of kindness to Mitch was also a gift to me because he gave my boy the gift of time and attention and made him happy. 

I am grateful for people like Corey … who make a choice each day to love and lift others – even when they don’t need to. I cannot help but be brought to tears when I look at this image; for I see two sons of a loving Father who wants only for us to be nice and help each other along the way … because that’s all that matters at the end of the day. Kindness is always the better way.