In my garage hang 5 shovels that were used, as a matter of ceremony, to bury my dear son. Every day I come home I see them. I can’t NOT see them. These shovels are now symbols of what matters most and the price my family paid to be reminded of such. When I see them, suddenly material things are worthless to me; the pursuit of fame and attention, ring hollow and lame; and all the tinsel and chatter of the world lose their luster and powers of persuasion. 

I just see 5 sacred symbols, still bearing dirt from the burial site, and am reminded of one missing boy I would do anything to see and hold again.

I don’t keep these symbols visible to agitate already tender wounds nor do I use them to fixate on the pain of loss; the kitchen table with an empty chair does that well enough. Instead, these shovels keep me focused and clear-minded. They remind me of the realities of life and also point to my most treasured relationships. Each day I leave my garage remembering Mitch and I make a promise to do better than the day before – to make whatever time I have on this earth matter. When I return home I am reminded to talk a little softer, to listen more intently, and to love more visibly … for everything, and I mean everything ... is temporary. 

I made this video just after Mitch passed away wherein these shovels were shown.

These symbols keep me sober and sane. They remind me to never dig a pit for my neighbor or intentionally cause harm to others, but rather to take compassion and help dig others out of trouble and help where I can. They remind me that I, too, will one day be laid to rest and I will be held accountable for my choices … for the help or harm I caused others. 

I hope to never hurt another but always help ... and if I'm lucky, to build a soul with heaven's help.