Last year an anonymous follower arranged to have a bracelet made that bore my son’s handwriting of the last thing he ever wrote me. When I opened the package and saw it for the first time, I wept. I had posted a photo of Mitchell’s handwritten note when he was home on hospice many months prior and this kind person used that photo as the source for the bracelets inscription. I was profoundly touched by this gift. Whoever you are, thank you. I wish I knew who you are so I could thank you personally. 

The woman/artisan who was hired to make this bracelet was the same woman who sent my wife a gift just after Mitch passed, again with his handwriting that read “I Love My Mom.” I will write of that sweet story soon. 

I have treasured this bracelet greatly. Although I have many weaknesses, this memorial around my wrist serves as a reminder to always do my best. While in Mitchell’s eyes I was the best, I knew I fell short in so many ways – but I always tried my best. Like the saying, “fall down seven times, stand up eight”, that is what I will do until my dying day.

As I approach Memorial Day I have a certain heaviness in my heart. I am grateful for the men and women who sacrificed their lives for peace and freedom –and I will always reverence them. At least for me, Memorial Day also represents another layer of fallen ones … the ones who fought a different kind of war and died while fighting to live. My son is one of them; along with so many other children who fought a battle with DMD and lost. In fact, that is a battle no one survives. Not one.

So this weekend I have a reverent heart for those who fought violent battles behind enemy lines - and also for my son and many others who fought an invisible biological enemy and died. 

I have long lamented the tradition of honoring someone after they've died when they could have used the boost while they were living. I never go a day and not tell the people around me how great I think they are - for they may be fighting an invisible battle of the soul and dying a little inside each day. Everyone is fighting a battle of some kind ... so why wait to compliment, honor and build up the ones we love until they are gone? 

What's more, we write funeral talks, paint masterpieces, sculpt statues and build all manner of memorials in honor of the fallen. And while those are good and worthy endeavors, I would rather become a living memorial than build one. I would rather take the lessons learned at so high a price and become what I learned rather than point to a statue of an ideal. This day, and every day here after, I will try to sculpt my life in such a way that I bring honor to my son – a much worthier soul than my own.

As I make my journey to that place beyond the hills, I know I will fall down seven million times … but I will stand up seven million and one – because my little boy believed in me and saw something I didn't.

Bracelet created by: www.facebook.com/SugarplumsJewelry