During his final days there were times I couldn't tell whether I was talking to my 10 year old son or a soul that was older than the universe itself. I saw it with my own eyes and felt it in the depths of my soul; something significant was happening. Although my young son was dying, his true identity was emerging and I sensed he was much older than I knew. I realized death wasn't the end ... but it was a painful goodbye, even if for now. Reunion may as well be forever away. For my heart aches and yearns to have him back with me – the way he used to be. That is grief.

As death inched closer the veil between this place and over there became increasingly thin. Those who came to visit said they felt a strong presence in our home. Natalie and I didn't always feel what they felt – we were probably too close to recognize it. Perhaps, also, we were in too much pain. Yet, in our closeness to this sorrow, we saw things others couldn't. Some things I will never share, for they are too sacred. Sometimes I wonder what it would look like were we allowed to see all that is truly happening. Perhaps we might be startled to see all the hands unseen that carry us in ways we do not now appreciate or feel.

There was a point when Mitch asked me, “Dad, is there any other way?” I held my son quietly and I wept. Countless were the nights I begged God for a way out. I pleaded for mercy. I begged for my son. As his father I would have traded places with him without a moment’s thought. I asked God, “Is there any other way?” As I tried to listen to my Father, I was reminded of another One who asked for a bitter cup to pass. Not even He was spared.

There is a saying that reads, “Most people wish to serve God – but only in an advisory capacity.” How oft have I been tempted to think my finite mind knows better than my infinite Father’s? So many times my heart cried out, “Please, not this. Anything but this.” I begged God for another way as though I might devise a better plan. Yet I know I cannot see what He sees … and I am reminded we are not mortal beings having a spiritual experience, but “spiritual beings having a mortal experience.” (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin) 

I don’t know much. But what I do know is this mortal life is a place to learn and grow under the tutelage of a Divine Teacher; a place where we learn how to see in the dark and hear the voice of God in our own wilderness. I can see that now. I understand there is no other way.

Yet, here I am talking of pain and suffering as a divine tutor … and I find myself on my knees, drenched in tears, begging for relief, scarcely able to bear the weight of this sorrow. Then a whisper, “There is no other way. Be patient, my son, for you will see more tomorrow.”

There is no other way.