My dear wife wanted to take our kids out last night so we could spend time as a family. Ethan is on a scout trip, but Laura-Ashley and Wyatt were with us. We visited a nearby pond Mitch loved to visit and capture sunsets with his iPod. Soon I will start exploring his iPod with his many photos, videos and other things he created. I will share some of that here, too. It is sure to be a tender, emotional experience.
Natalie and Laura-Ashley ran to the store to get a loaf of bread while Wyatt and I waited on the dock. Wyatt and I talked about our plans for the summer and I was as excited to spend time with him as any person on earth.
It wasn't long before the girls returned and we began to feed the gaggle geese and all manner of web-footed creatures that seemed to know the party was just about to start and came racing to the dock. Our aim was to throw little pieces of bread near the baby ducks so they could eat first. These baby ducks were so little, fast and light they could almost run on top of the water. They were so very cute. Mitch loved baby animals.
I loved last night. I loved every second of it. There couldn't have been a more perfect night. Well, if Mitch were with us, in the way we want him with us, it would have been whole. But, like my friend and author John Michael Stuart taught me about what it means to be human, “Perfect is a relative term.” With what we had, last night was perfect and for that I am grateful.
My heart was at peace last night because I was so grateful to be surrounded by people I love with all my heart. I’m just an imperfect man and I know I am hard to live with at times – and I am grateful they still keep me. Although imperfect I love my family perfectly – at least I think I do. That is until I fall deeper in love with my wife and kids and realize all the love I thought I knew was just beginning. To my surprise the depths of love grow deeper still.
I miss my little Mitch and I am slowly learning how to live without him. One of the great challenges for those who grieve the death of a child is learning how to reconcile the past, make peace with a painful present and look to the future with a hope of an easier tomorrow. No small task.
I love the words of Elana K. Arnold, “Perhaps that is where our choice lies -- in determining how we will meet the inevitable end of things, and how we will greet each new beginning.” It seems to me that is the quintessential story of life; a series of painful ends and hopeful beginnings – and how we respond to them shape us in ways we do not yet realize.
I am grateful for each new day, a chance to begin again. Yet, I needn't wait for tomorrow to begin again … for every moment of every day is a chance to begin anew.
Last night was a blessing; for there was peace in my heart, beauty all around and most importantly more love than I knew what to do with. Every moment I am learning, and when I stumble with grief or life, I choose to begin anew.