A few years ago we took our kids to the park on a sunny autumn afternoon. The heat of summer was behind us, the days were getting colder and we could feel the hint of winter’s breath on our faces. 

At the time Mitchell had strength to walk short distances and his valiant mother made every opportunity for him to enjoy his childhood with what strength he had. On this day, however, Mitchell’s appetite for adventure got the best of him when, in a moment of quiet panic, he realized he walked so far that he couldn't possibly make it back. 

Not fully aware the trouble Mitch found himself in, we saw in the distance two familiar forms run to him with eager arms and legs; two children racing to rescue their little brother and bring him home. To the naked eye this scene was too far away to see or appreciate, but through my 400mm lens this is what I saw. It didn't take long for my viewfinder to fill with tears as I witnessed unraveling before me the most beautiful, unrehearsed portrait of love. 

Here were 3 little giants finding a way to make the best of their situation: a broken boy who found himself in trouble because his zest for life was greater than his body would allow; and two siblings who abandoned their own youthful adventures to serve their little brother with tender care. 

In this moment I realized with clarity love is more than an emotional state: love is a verb.

I have always appreciated the saying “It’s not the load that breaks you; it’s the way you carry it.” Since I have lost my son this photo has taken on a new layer of meaning and I can’t help but think about how I carry my own burdens. The weight of grief is so great at times I find myself stumbling over pebbles, worried I might break. But then I look at this photo, this accidental sermon of sacrifice and love, I am determined to follow my children’s example – to carry whatever loads are heaped upon me with love in my heart and a smile in my countenance. 

Carry on and carry others … that is how we keep from breaking.

I have since printed and framed this photo with the saying: “Love is a verb. Get busy.” These are words to remember. Words to live by.