As a young boy I was told I might have, with a little luck, some once in a lifetime opportunities. Inspired, I began to search after them – for they were sure to promise novelty and happiness. But what were they? Are they rare? Are they for the lucky ones? Would I be so lucky as to stumble into one at some point in my life?

Sure enough, over the years, I've encountered them. Some were as unique as I imagined. Sometimes I blew it. Other times I drank those opportunities in. Being human, I am sure some have passed me by.

Then, one day, my sweet wife and I were at a park with my kids and I had a moment of clarity and realized they weren't rare at all and that I was surrounded by them. It occurred to me at that moment my family was just that - a once in a lifetime opportunity. Every moment with them was unique and fleeting. I don't get to do my days, or my hours, or minutes over. I realized I will never have now again. Suddenly, my eyes were opened and I saw my wife and children anew. 

Mitchell was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I pray I never took him for granted or squandered the time I had. As much as I tried to appreciate each moment, I am pained that I did not. But making mistakes is part of being human - and I am learning to live with that.

I loved my son the best I knew how, and I hope he felt it.

I remember sitting at the foot of Mitchell’s bed as he was nearing the end of his life. His heart was weary and his body was giving up. Believing my son was sound asleep I began to think about my life with Mitch and his hopes and dreams that he would never realize. 

My heart broke that my son, this once in a lifetime opportunity was coming to an end. Once again, I wept a broken father’s tears. As I wept in sorrow I caused the bed to shake a little and Mitch asked, “Dad, why are you crying?” I wiped my tears and tried to laugh it off because I didn't want to frighten him. But I was so very frightened to lose him. So very scared.

A few days later my son … my little buddy, my soul mate was gone; this once in a lifetime opportunity.

I don't know how many more once in a lifetime opportunities I will encounter in my life. I know each day with my wife and children are just that - and I will try harder to make the most of my time and let them know how much I love them in my every word and my every deed.

This much I do know … when I see my son again in that place beyond the hills, I will run to him as fast as my legs will carry me. I will crush mountains and drain the seas to clear a path so I can have my son back with me. I may trip and I may fall, and if my legs give out … I won’t stop, I will crawl. 

And when finally I reach him, I will embrace my boy like I always did … with all the love I have … and could ever hope to give.