THE LUCKY ONE
A few years had passed since Mitchell’s diagnosis. We were committed to living a normal life as long as possible; we knew that all-too-soon DMD would take normal away from us and we weren't going to let the disease rob us of today … for tomorrow would come all too quickly. We knew that we would never have now again.
It was a hot summer day when we drove to a fire station and introduced Mitch to the men who worked there. We explained to the firefighters our son had DMD and suddenly these strong men, who were wrapped in muscle and deep tans instantly had a look of compassion on their faces. They went from men of brawn and bravery to fathers who loved and cared. They invited us in and were so kind to our son and family. We told Mitch that not only did these brave men save people and property from fires, they were also trying to save him [and many children like him] from Muscular Dystrophy. I told little Mitch these men are the ones we see with boots in-hand at intersections to collect donations. I remember getting a little emotional as I described what these firemen did to help my sweet boy. Mitch smiled quietly as I kissed his cheek. I miss kissing his cheek.
It didn't take long for these good men to put a little firefighter jacket and helmet on Mitch. The posture of my son’s little hands told me a silent story about how he was feeling at the moment. I could tell he felt timid and awkward receiving so much attention, yet his face told me he felt special. If only he knew how special he was to his mother and me – but alas, a child can never understand the depth of a parent’s love until they become one. Even then, they only comprehend the love they then have for their little ones.
Before long these kind firemen lifted Mitch into one of their fire trucks and described how everything worked. Little Mitch was fascinated.
As we drove home that day Mitch looked out the window with a smile on his face as though he were lucky to have had that experience. I kept looking back at him through the rear-view mirror and couldn't help but think how lucky I was to be his dad. I could tell that experience made him feel special – and that made my heart swell. I believe everyone deserves to feel good about themselves. Everyone.
I couldn't help but feel gratitude for my wife who always looks for ways to expand our children’s horizons and encourages them to experience new things. If it weren't for her diligence as a parent, this experience may have never happened.
There isn't a day that passes that I don’t borrow Mitchell’s words and say to myself, “I’m the lucky one.” Though my legs are weak under the crushing weight of grief, I find myself with treasures of the soul, so-to-speak. When I think of my sweet son and my attempts to rescue him – I can’t help but recognize how he has rescued me. I’m the lucky one.