A few years ago our extended family had a reunion in Mexico. Our generous step-father and grandfather sponsored the trip as a means to spend time together and create memories.

On this occasion, we were at the Cenote in Chichén Itzá, Mexico. Imagine a giant underground pool of water several hundred feet beneath the surface and surrounded in the hardest stone. Were you to look upward you would see the sky, jungle trees and vines draping downward to the water. The water below was exceedingly deep and dark, but it was fresh water and a nice break from the intense heat. 

We helped Mitch descend a stair path until we reached a stone platform about 10 feet from the waterline. Natalie, wanting Mitch to have a life full of experience asked if he wanted to jump into the water, she said, “I’ll go with you.” Mitch gladly accepted the invitation. Mitch was afraid of nothing, save dying. I think he only feared death, not because of what would happen over there, but because he didn't want to miss out on everything happening here. Mitch loved life. He often commented how glad he was to be alive. And to think how oft I have lived and never really been alive. Because of my sweet son, I am changed.

I'll never forget the look on Mitchie’s face after he came out of the water. He had the biggest smile because he conquered another one of life’s challenges. Fellow swimmers helped Mitch and Natalie climb the rope ladder so he could jump in once more. Mitch loved this experience. He was so happy to have dove into the water with his mom and he talked about it for a long time.

I love this image because it is symbolic of how my wife and son lived. Mitch loved life and was always up for an adventure. My dear wife postponed any convenience, if necessary, to teach our children discipline, a sound work ethic and to enjoy everything life has to offer. This image exactly depicts my noble, loving wife seeking ways to help our disabled son drink life in; always by his side, always holding his hand.

The night Mitch passed away I remember my wife holding his hand in a similar manner – it was firm and loving, tender and assuring. Only that time she couldn't jump with Mitch. She stood beside our little boy on the edge of a different dark water … a place wherein one cannot see, at least with mortal eyes. Natalie loved our little boy and let him know he would be okay – for soon he would jump to that other place. 

It wasn't but a few days earlier Natalie wept at the side of his bed, thinking Mitch was asleep when he awoke and said, “It’s okay Mommy.” I will forever be in awe of the strength and nobility of this little boy … who set aside his own fears to comfort his mother. I am quite certain that was a jump he did not want to make – but he loved his mommy enough to help her feel better. 

Mitch lives. He doesn't live because I write of him and that his memory is in the hearts and minds of people. He is not an idea or a memory. He lives as an actual being, a person of consciousness: a child of God who lives on – as will all of us after we leave this mortal state. I know this. I only wish such knowledge took the pain of separation and loss away – but it doesn't. It gives context to loss and sorrow, but it doesn't give us immunity from pain. I miss my 10-year-old son. I want him back and I cannot have him and my heart is greatly pained therewith. 

Yet, to look upon this image gives me fresh courage to live a full life and drink the moments in the best I can. I want to live a life like Mitch lived – fearlessly facing life’s adventures and doing it with those I love. If my little son could face all manner of unknowns with such bravery, so can I. And then there’s my sweet wife … a woman I will always love and honor because of the way she lives and loves. 

I am grateful for these two beautiful examples in my life: my wife for endlessly severing and loving and my son for his bravery and selflessness – which selflessness at the end of his life was a bravery of a much nobler sort.