Yesterday I was with the people I love, honoring a little boy I love. 

My in-laws and extended family met at the cemetery to honor and remember little Mitch. I was glad to see everyone – and it was nice to see them go out of their way to show they cared – but my heart was tender. I think it will always be tender for as long as I live. It always seems that tears are just a thought away. I guess that’s part of grief and I’m learning to accept it.

We gathered around Mitchell’s headstone and my father-in-law passed around a bag of salt & vinegar chips (Mitchell’s favorite). To each was given a chip and then shared something they remembered about our son. We all laughed and cried as we reminisced about this neat little boy that had found his way into everyone’s heart. I quietly put my sunglasses on to hide my eyes that had become red and filled with tears. I didn't want anyone to stop sharing for fear they were upsetting me. I wanted to hear what people remembered.

My sweet wife smiled and was gracious to everyone, but I could see beneath her smile a broken heart that missed her baby boy. My heart broke for her, too. But we kept our chins up and we remembered the sweet times. 

At some point two of Mitchell’s aunts, Sonya and Mindy, reminded me of our last Thanksgiving with Mitch. We had all gathered at the grandparents’ home and sat around their living room, each sharing what we were thankful for. When it was Mitchell’s turn he said in his quiet and humble voice, “I’m thankful for life.” The moment they reminded me what my son said, everything came back to me and I remembered it, too … and my heart fell to the grass.

I think somewhere deep down Mitch knew his life would be shorter than most. Actually, I know Mitch knew it, but he didn't realize what he knew. Perhaps that is why he valued life so much. If my son valued life, I will value it, too. 

I wish I could have learned some of life’s lessons a different way … I wish my broken son didn't have to teach me what it means to be whole. Although I miss my son, I have so much to be thankful for and I will not waste another moment of my life. I will live for my family. I will live for my son.