Ever since he was a young boy I have taken Mitch (and my other kids) to work with me from time-to-time. When Mitch was especially tiny I would make pillow & blanket forts under my conference room table and he would cuddle in his little cave of comfort to watch movies, play with toys and eat treats while I went about my meetings for the day. I would take him to lunch and we would talk about the big stuff that was on his little mind. I treasure those memories greatly. As Mitch grew older he no longer sat under my desk but at it with a computer building digital forts in Minecraft.

This is a photo of Mitchell’s last time at work with me. He was just denied a heart transplant and I remember sitting across my desk looking at my sweet boy worried about his future. I had no idea the darkness that would soon come into my life. I saw a sweet young man who just wanted to live a normal life and enjoy the simple things. 

I thought we had more time with him. I have come to learn the hour is always later than we think. Time, if ignored or mismanaged, is never on our side and becomes a thief of opportunity. 

I have spent almost the last three years of my life helping to lead a company to launch that is aimed at helping people close the gap between what they value and what they do. I believe it is an inspired company and I hope it helps people live a life of greater meaning and less regret. Little Mitch was too young to really understand what my company was about – but it was because of him that I invested my time there. My family is one of my highest values, and I sought to live my values the best I knew how, and at the depths of my soul I want to help others do the same. So there Mitch sat at my desk … he just loved being around me and more than anything, I loved being around him. I was simply trying to live what I valued.

On my bookshelf is a statue of hands, one lifting another. I put it in my office as a symbol of why we exist as a company – but more importantly, a symbol of the desires of my heart. What good are hands if we don’t use them to lift others up? 

Since the loss of my son I have not only struggled with bewildering grief, I have suffered the wrath of foolish men who were blinded by pride and arrogance – and sought to tear me down. While I’m no pushover, for a while I believed them and I wondered if I was capable of anything at all. A season already darkened by death became even darker by the destructive actions of others … others who knew better. I just held on the best I knew how, remembering they were human, too. I prayed to have a forgiving heart. What kept me going was remembering a profound lesson Mitch taught me: “Be nice to each other and be glad you’re alive. Nothing else matters.” I am grateful my son taught me to see past my troubles and to remember what really matters.

I have discovered grief is much like a cocoon. While we are wrapped up in grief a transformation happens whether we like it or not. At some point we will emerge from that cocoon, having become something different than we were before. What we become is largely up to us – shaped by the decisions we make during that transformation.

Today, I can feel the cocoon of grief lessen its suffocating grip on my soul. I still hurt. Sometimes deeply. But, something is changing … and I feel it is good. During brief moments of profound sorrow I wondered if there was any hope at all … hope of a life beyond such a terrible loss. To my relief, I have discovered there is.

I am still going to write of grief: the grief I feel and the grief I felt. I will share hard things and soft things – and everything in between. And as I emerge from this cocoon of grief, I will share my experience with that, too. Whatever happens during this transformation, whatever I become … I will always miss this little boy. I will always long to hear his voice and touch his face. I will always miss his companionship. 

One thing Mitchell’s Journey has taught me is if we live what we value, when everything falls apart, we won’t.