It was so hard to see our son slip into oblivion. I’ll always remember how lovingly Natalie held Mitch as he struggled to breathe and keep balance. Mitch was taking medicine to erase from his mind oxygen hunger – without it he would be panicked, breathless, and gasping for air. It was a medicine of mercy. As Mitch descended further into the abyss he began taking other medications to erase from his mind the pain of organ failure and the panic of dying.

We were not prepared for such things; we knew how to make macaroni and cheese, play UNO and swim in ponds. We knew how to laugh and play, do homework and tell stories at bedtime. We didn't know how to manage the symptoms of death – let alone watch our little boy die.

My dear wife demonstrated a bravery and steadiness that humbles me to my core. She was soft and tender to Mitch and never did anything to scare him – even though in her heart she was terrified beyond measure. Occasionally I would find her in our closet weeping next to a pile of tissues – but around Mitch, she was steady and sure. 

Although my sweet wife and I did our best to prepare for the holocaust of losing our son, I discovered it wasn't possible to intellectually or emotionally prepare for such a loss. Yes, I knew it was coming and I wept in sorrow anticipating the loss of my son – but, with all the sorrow I knew at the time, I at least had the hope of another moment. There was always hope of another something – and that kept the true weight of grief at bay. It wasn't until Mitch was gone that the true weight of grief broke every part of me. All the sorrow I knew before, anticipating his death, was but a foretaste of a much deeper pain to come. That was when my heart was hurled into oblivion.

I have learned the true hell of losing a child happens in the aftermath, long after flowers and casseroles – that is when it’s hardest. And it is hard for a long, long time. It isn't hard for want of sympathy, it is hard because he is gone. Really gone. Days seem to stretch eternal and night, with its promise of sleep, is a welcomed escape from oblivion and the heaviness of grief. 

For the next year and a half I found myself slipping in and out of oblivion. The first 12 months were absolute oblivion – there were more moments of tears than no tears. Thankfully that is not the case today. I still cry every day, but I no longer cry all day. 

I find myself slipping into oblivion at the most unexpected times. Although oblivion is no longer home to my broken heart, it is a second home and my heart will take residence there without any warning at all.

In fact, just yesterday I was in a business meeting discussing many important topics related to our future as a business. At one point, without warning or provocation, I was taken over by a profound sense of loss. “He’s gone. Mitch is actually gone.” I found myself quietly gasping for air thinking to myself, “I can't believe he’s gone.” It was a wrestle of the soul. I tried to push those feelings aside so I wouldn't erupt in tears in the middle of our meeting in front of the other men. By the time I reached my office and shut my door, the floodgates opened. I wept as though I just lost him.

I don't know how to grieve any more than I know how to watch my child die. I just know how to make macaroni and cheese and play with my kids. I know how to cuddle by the campfire and dream up bedtime stories. I don't know how to live without Mitch – but I don't have a choice in the matter. Each day I take a step forward – and each day is a little better than the day before. 

I miss my son – every moment of every day I miss him. I wish I didn't have to go through this. And though I find my heart in oblivion at the most unexpected moments, I'm somehow able to find my way back to that path of healing, that path of peace, and thankfully I haven't lost any ground.

Somewhere on the other side of all this hell, is heaven. I seek after that.