It was late August and we somehow managed to survive our first summer without our son. Saturday morning had come and it was a beautiful, almost dream-like day when we went to visit out son’s place of rest. A few moments prior to this photo I captured Marlie sitting at the foot of Mitchell’s headstone staring at it. After a few moments Natalie quietly sat by Marlie. This little girl, this furry friend to our son and family, looked up at this broken-hearted mommy. 

I know dogs are intuitive for I have seen their intuition with my own eyes. This same puppy, much smaller at the time, never left Mitchell’s side while he was sick. And the night Mitch passed she curled around his head as if to comfort him – like a mother would cradle her baby. Now there was another person that needed comfort – a mother who was dying on the inside. I wondered at this moment what Marlie was thinking – did she know that Natalie was in pain? Sometimes I think so. 

I sensed Marlie missed Mitch because I would often find her laying on his bed as if to wait for him to come home. She would lay on his pillow in the same way she did when Mitch passed away. I was always saddened to see that. 

A few weeks after Mitch passed away a dear friend of our family and mother to one of Mitchell’s best friends, Carter (who I will write about soon), approached us and asked if she could start a 5K run in honor of Mitch called “Miles for Mitchell”. 

We were so touched by her thoughtfulness. Natalie loves to run - it is her way of coping. Before Mitchell passed away he said in a soft, almost breathless voice, “Hey mom, you can take Marlie running with you every day. I think she would like that.” Mitch wished he could run like other kids but his muscles were too weak. Natalie kissed Mitch softly and said, “I sure will. I will run with Marlie.” 

Natalie has kept her promise and runs every day with this sweet little dog. 

We were overwhelmed by the love and support from our local community, neighbors and friends last year. They rallied to help us in a time of crisis and great need – and we were deeply humbled and taken to our knees. That run, Miles for Mitchell, did so much for Natalie’s heart on her path to healing. For she was surrounded by people who cared, who loved her and felt after her broken heart. I suspect this year's run will do the same for her. And that makes my heart glad - for she hurts, too.

For those who want to attend our second annual Miles for Mitchell, the run will be held May 3rd. You can find more details on or you can register here:

Last year the run was aimed at helping our family pay off medical bills and cover funeral expenses – for which we were deeply grateful. 

This year, and every year hereafter, we will run to raise awareness for DMD and its catastrophic outcomes, to support Mitchell’s Journey, and help others who hurt.