We just returned from a weekend trip to Bear Lake – a place we've frequented over the years as a family. This was the first time we went there without Mitch.

The lake, nestled deep in the mountains, was as beautiful and serene as I remembered it to be. Because I tend to be deeply sentimental I attach vivid memories to places, things and moods. It is both a blessing and a burden. Almost everything reminds me of something. Bear Lake was no exception and reminded me of little Mitch because he had some great times there. So, as we reached the mountain summit and saw the lake for the first time since Mitchell’s passing I had to swallow my tears – for I knew my son loved to be there and he wasn't … not the way we wanted him with us. 

As we approached the lake I made a conscious decision to turn my attention to my wife and kids because they were all I had left – and though I thought about Mitch often, I gave my family all that I knew to give. I wasn't perfect, but I gave it my best. I hope they felt it.

One of the difficulties of grief is learning how to move forward while part of your heart is forever frozen in time – ever longing for the one you lost. To say this process is difficult is an understatement.

On Saturday we rented a boat to water ski. Wyatt, my youngest son, was terrified when we left the harbor; this was the first time he saw me operate a boat and he was convinced I was going to crash. He cried and wanted to go back to shore. Before long he settled down and I let him steer the boat for a while. Once he understood how relatively easy it was to operate a boat, he relaxed. Wyatt no longer thought I was going to crash. It was neat to see Wyatt’s transformation from fear to confidence. Like many things in life, he needed to experience it to truly understand it. So it is with the purpose of life, too. We can talk about the virtues of faith at great length; we can write books and examine faith as an academic exercise; we can stand at pulpits and discuss the idea of faith – but it is only when the lights go out and we must take those terrifying steps in the darkness that we begin to truly understand faith. Until the trial of our own faith, it is merely wordplay and postulates. 

I took this photo of Mitch a few years ago while at Bear Lake. Because Mitchell’s legs were weak from DMD, his aunt Miriam pushed him so he could get more speed. Mitch smiled and laughed and it seemed as if he felt like a ‘regular kid’ for a moment. I will forever look back at moments like these and feel gratitude in my heart. Though my son was oppressed by a debilitating disease, with the help of others he felt a rush of freedom. 

This image hangs in my garage next to the 5 shovels that were used to bury my son. While those shovels are poignant symbols of love and loss, reminding me each day to be sober and sane, this image is also a symbol to me … a reminder to appreciate the power of now – for I will never have now again.

I often think back at the time I took this photo of Mitch– there was a lot going on in my professional life. It seemed as though the weight of the world was on my shoulders and I could have had a million excuses to postpone this trip a year or to stay home and work. Had I confused my values and priorities, had I decided work was more important than family, this moment, and a million like them, would have never happened. Regret is merely disappointment over the misuse of moments. I vow to never live a life of regret.

This image reminds me to never trade that which is good for that which is greater. I know when I die I won't look back and wish I spent more hours at the office. My most treasured memories won't be at a computer or in a conference room – they will be with the ones I love. And that will be my gift to them – the gift of time and attention … the gift of experience and memories. Though work is vital and important I know where it fits with my life priorities and I will never confuse them. My little son has taught me there is nothing more powerful than now. For now is when memories are made … not tomorrow, not some day in the future. Now.