It was a cold January afternoon when a kind man walked up our steep driveway with a tattered cardboard box in his arms. Inside that box was a tender, shivering puppy for one sick little boy. Mitch was so excited to have a little furry friend to call his own. 

I think on some level Mitch was beginning to feel increasingly lonely because all of his peers were moving far past him. It wasn't that they didn't care about him … to the contrary, his friends loved him. But as they were getting older and physically stronger, Mitch was growing increasingly weak. The world Mitch used to know was beginning to pass him by and he was beginning to feel more and more isolated. He didn't complain about this, but as his father, I knew what was happening. I sensed it as only a parent can.

About a week before my son passed away he lay on the floor in tears saying how much he wished he could do in real life what he was only able to do in video games. He had just played a skateboard game and wanted so much to do those tricks “for real.” My heart broke as I saw my little boy long to be like every other little boy. Life and hardship would take that away from him and that pains my heart.

I don’t know what drove my father-in-law to give little Mitch a puppy, but the timing of that gift was nothing short of miraculous. Two weeks later Mitch would go to the hospital, then be sent home to die. This little puppy was such a comfort to Mitch. I will share more about those tender mercies in future posts, and some are especially tender, but there is no doubt in my mind this little gift was an act of inspired kindness. Heaven’s hand was very much in this gift.

I posted a short video of that sweet exchange here: vimeo.com/58228257

At some point, as Mitch was getting to know his puppy, I turned my camera toward my father-in-law and captured this image. This good man, who bore the scars of age and experience on his face, stood quietly against the wall and seemed to find great joy in the happiness of my son. I love everything about this photo … not that it is a good photo (because it is not) … I love this image because it captured someone in the very act of goodness. This is what goodness looks like. 

I admire the person who thinks less about heaping riches unto themselves and instead looks for ways to love and lift others. I am convinced the key to a rich life isn't found in what we keep, but instead what we give. 

I think there’s a special place in heaven for this good man. When I grow up, I want to be just like this man. For he is good and he has a rich life.

As Thanksgiving nears, I can’t help but be overwhelmed with gratitude. Though I lost my son, a little person and friend most precious to me, I am grateful I had him in the first place. I am grateful for my family, true friends and all of you. I am grateful for goodness.