When Mitch was a young boy he thought the little forest in our back yard was a gateway to something magical. It is a small, unremarkable place, but if you take your imagination with you, it’s as big as you want it to be and more amazing than any place on earth.
Just yesterday I took my older kids up to the woods and together we toiled to build a small pond along the trail. I included them in the design and creation of it because I wanted them to have a sense of ownership and accomplishment. My heart smiled seeing Ethan & Laura-Ashley work together as a team to do something they've always wanted to do and to do it in the memory of their little brother. I have discovered the process of grief is aided greatly by doing something constructive. While Mitch may have left us, his dream for this little forest remains. It has rallied the hearts and minds of my children and become a type of therapy for us all. We still have many plans for this place and we will work on it every weekend as a family.
My daughter purchased some floating lily pads that glow green, purple and blue at night, which makes the secret forest even more magical when the sun hides its face behind the hills. The forest, now home to some artificial fireflies, make for an even more magical experience. The trail, softly lit by glowing mason jars, gives just enough light to see the path before you and not get lost in the mysterious woods.
So, last night, after having installed our pond, Wyatt set a glowing turtle next to the water to keep watch. I loved the look of wonder on his face. He later asked me, “Dad, can we go up there every night?” I told him, “You bet, son. You bet.”
Each night this tiny forest gets a little more magical. Each of my children have their fingerprint on this forest – and that makes my heart smile. This little wooded forest has become a place to remember the past and enjoy the magic of now. This night my heart is filled with gratitude and peace.
Here is a short post on Instagram that matches the magical mood of last night: http://tinyurl.com/qjlk2vj
This is the view from the top of our property and just outside the secret forest. Mitch loved this place. We placed a bench here years ago and Mitch and I would eat Popsicles and talk about life, friends and video games while we watched our part of the world turn away from the sun.
In a manner of speaking, this place has become hallowed ground to me; both because of the memories it keeps and also because it reminds me to try and see above all that would obstruct my view of life. I hope to always see the forest through the trees … and the world for what it is and what it isn't. I hope to always have perspective.