I purchased this coin at the gift shop at Primary Children’s Hospital. 

It was only a few days earlier we were told our son would die and likely only had a few days to live. Shocked and bewildered, my wife and I began to navigate a sea of trouble and grief for which we were scarcely prepared. Hell came barging into our lives and spared no one.

Each night I sat at Mitchell’s hospital bed and watched various monitors tethered to his body display the chaos that was unfolding beneath his skin. This catastrophe of hurricane proportions was so great, and in the doctor’s minds unstoppable, they turned off the audio alarms because they wouldn't stop beeping. I have seen many scary things in my life and none were as scary as what I saw on those screens. I watched my son’s chest pound as though a grown man were inside his body punching his way out. His tender heart was struggling so hard to support his little body. By this time my son had also lost a great deal of weight and he looked sickly. My young son and soul mate, my baby made of sand, was slipping away and no medical intervention could save him from DMD. If ever I found myself in a time of trouble, there was none so great as this. 

One night, at about 3AM, unable to find rest, I sat by my son and posted “Mourning with Those that Mourn” thanking those who were following our son and offering him words of love and encouragement. I was reminded that no matter how impossible some challenges seem, there is always something to be grateful for. And in that moment I was grateful for many of you who took time to love a stranger. If ever there were a testament to the goodness of humanity, it is seen in your goodness to my son. Thank you … from the depths of my soul, I thank you.

In that post I wrote: “While navigating the labyrinth of pain and sorrow, Natalie and I often talk about finding joy, and we believe it is all around us. I think joy is a natural byproduct of gratitude. It's so often the little things, if appreciated, that bring joy to life and amplify happiness. There is so much to be grateful for. There are tender mercies all around us, every day.” 

In times of trouble, gratitude is a lifeline; in times of joy, it is an amplifier. If I believed that then, I believe it even more today. In fact, I don’t just believe it, I know it.

I have also found gratitude an effective means of rising above that which would take us down. It doesn't prevent sorrow but it gives context to pain and suffering and keeps us from getting so dizzy in grief we forget there is still something to be grateful for. If our soul is to be likened to soil, gratitude is the great fertilizer. It lets light in, it nourishes and softens our hearts so other things may grow. I have never known a bitter man who was grateful, nor a grateful man who was bitter. Gratitude is divine. Gratitude is a gift from God.

It is to this end I will always pray … to be blessed with the gift of gratitude every single day. And if I am blind to the gifts my Father so generously gives me, I pray for eyes to see. For gratitude can fill our hearts even when our arms are empty.