Mitch sat patiently at the examination table for one of his regular check-up’s at Schriner’s Hospital. Dr. Kerr, his Neurologist and DMD specialist, would soon arrive to monitor the progress of his muscle wasting. Mitch didn't seem to mind the wait; he was a good, good boy. Dr. Kerr was one of the great doctors. You see, good doctors treat the body, great doctors treat the person. Dr. Kerr was (and remains) one of the great ones because she always gave a thoughtful dose of personal care. And what a medicine that is. To know that someone cares wields great healing power; it can steady a troubled heart and even help put it back together again. Like epinephrine can boost human performance, genuine care can give an emotional boost that rallies strength to fight on. Care is a most powerful thing. Perhaps, among other reasons, it’s powerful because, anymore, it’s so rare.

Having worked with little boys with DMD, Dr. Kerr knew just how broken our son was. Beneath the surface of his soft smile and tender countenance, Mitchell’s was body breaking down on a cellular level. Whatever muscle strength he knew that day would soon fade away like a cloud on a summer’s day, never to return again. Though he looked healthy, my little son was fatally broken. The irony with my son’s journey was our little boy with the tenderest of hearts would die from heart failure. 

As I captured this photo my heart went out to Mitch. I knew a little about the broken road before his feet because I had read some brutally honest books about DMD, what to expect and the catastrophic nature of progressive muscle wasting. Pained by his future, I searched the world over for a detour, a pit stop, or an alternate route. But there are none. There is only one road for these children and that road leads to certain death. 

As a father, I have always tried to pave the way for my children’s future. Despite my efforts, which are often clumsy and weak, I have discovered my wife is a superior parent to me and she often charts the better way with my children. I am grateful to learn from her daily. I take mental notes and try to follow her example. She instinctively knows that the better path is often the inconvenient one. I love and honor her for that.

Yet, no matter how diligently we try to chart the course, sometimes the road ahead is broken. Less often, the road ends abruptly and we see, to our horror, our loved ones tumble into the abyss.

Until the end, Mitch seemed almost normal. He was still walking, though his gait was becoming more pronounced and walking distances shorter. He could still use his arms, though he couldn't pour himself a glass of milk, for even a half gallon had become too heavy. Each day for Mitch was a stretch of road. Some days it was clear and paved, other days were met with tremendous obstacles.

The broken road for our little boy was invisible to most. He just faced day, each broken road, with a smile … grateful for life. 

If ever I was tempted to complain about the difficult road before us, Mitch constantly reminded me of the saying, “There once was a man who cried because he had no shoes, until he met the man who had no feet.” Mitch was just glad to have a body. I was often brought to tears whenever he said, long before his heart was in trouble, how grateful he was for life. If his life had a mantra, that was it. Though grief, at times, has me wish for death, Mitch taught me to be grateful for life. And while I may be tempted to be like the man who cried because he has no shoes, I love someone deeply who has no feet. 

However broken the road may seem, I am grateful to still be traveling, for there are heavenly sights yet to be seen. One day, on the very edge of that place beyond the hills, on the horizon of that place I cannot see ... I will see a form familiar to me. I will run to him with bare and bleeding feet … to that lovely form so familiar, my son I shall meet