Last May we took our children to see a movie, something Mitch loved to do. Mitch always wanted to sit by me and I loved how he would cling to me and rest his head on arm during movies. Sweet Mitch had been gone a few months and it felt as if my heart were dragging on the floor 10 feet behind me. As a family we made a conscious decision to actively do things together and find a new normal. In fact, we were desperate to find a new normal … but normal felt a galaxy away and we were still walking on Jupiter, gasping for air. I’m still gasping.

I remember taking Ethan and Wyatt to see Ironman 3 - we were all so excited to see it. There was a point in the movie, under the cover of darkness and loud noise that I quietly wept during the most intense action scene. I wept because I knew how much Mitch wanted to see that movie and I ached that he wasn't with us. 

As we left the theater I saw my son Wyatt crossing the road in the same way he did with Mitchell almost exactly a year prior – only this time Wyatt was without his brother. My heart, tender to the touch, was pained and I was overcome with a sober sense time changes things.

Just the other day I was showing my daughter photos of her when she was a wee child. We laughed and smiled as I told her cute stories about her young adventures and darling personality. I love my daughter so very much and I wanted her to know how wonderful I thought she was … how blessed I was to be her father. As we looked through those photos I remembered how simple life was back then. My wife and I were young newlyweds and what seemed mountains to climb at the time were merely moguls today. “Back then” felt like yesterday, but also a world away. My daughter, who was once a cute little girl with grass-stained pants and messy hair was suddenly a beautiful young woman who will be college bound in the blink of an eye. 

Once again I was overcome with a sober sense time changes things. 

I have always taken photos of my family because I had a deeply personal belief that I’ll never have now again. Even back then I understood, whether through the happenings of life or death, time changes everything. 

Today, I am reminded of a profound truism that says “the trouble is you think you have time.” True indeed. Yet, I don’t value time for the fear of losing tomorrow, I value time because I don’t want to lose today. I will never have now again.

Yet, there are moments I am tempted to give up the “now” so I can hobble away in my cave to weep and grieve. Sometimes I must go there – even if only for a moment to purge the pain. But I know the work of grief is the work of a lifetime – and a heavy work it is. The trouble is, I am tempted to think I have time … time to grieve in my cave at the expense of my children today. That I cannot do. That I will not do.

As a grieving father I admit my cave is tempting. What’s more, in the face of deep sorrow, the forest of which Robert Frost spoke is indeed “lovely, dark and deep.” But as he so wisely penned, “I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.” 

Indeed I have promises to keep: I have a family to raise and an untold harvest of love to reap.