I’ll never forget the look on her face and the sound of her tearful whisper, lips trembling with sorrow, “Honey, how do we do this? I don’t know how to go on.” My heart, at least what was left of it, broke a little more. I whispered, “I don’t know, but we’ll do this together.” 

Our sweet little boy’s body lay silent just a few feet away from us. Almost overnight we found ourselves living a nightmare from which we could not wake … a soul-crushing pain from which we could not escape.

Next to his casket sat Mitchell’s scooter, which once carried his weakening body, now suddenly carried an emptiness that filled the room. I couldn’t imagine grief becoming any worse than it felt that day. I would soon realize that I had scarcely tasted that bitter cup – for the wages of grief were just beginning. Night had not yet fallen.

Moments later, my dear wife and I would walk into the chapel and give the most painful address of our lives. Yes, heaven felt close that day, but I was also in hell.

A few months after Mitch had passed I went to a doctor to examine my elbow, which had experienced some unusual and intense pain. After a short examination he determined I had tennis elbow. Secretly, I was devastated – for something deep inside me was hoping it was something terminal … something to end the deep pain I felt every waking minute of my life.

Although there were times I wished for death, I also knew I needed to be there for my wife and children. I loved them just as much as Mitch, yet, a part of me yearned for death so I could stop hurting. 

I was terrified of going to sleep or waking up – for that transition between wake and sleep often brought the unfiltered horror of losing my child into my mind and heart. Whatever progress I had made was lost in those moments of transition and it was as if I lost my son all over again. And again. And again. And again. Whenever that happened I would find myself in a state of panic and I would run to my son’s room and weep at the foot of his empty bed. I prayed every night that I could fall asleep and wake up quickly – so I would be spared such horrors of the mind and heart. Despite my pleas for relief, I was often not spared – and I spent many sleepless nights staring into the night sky in search of my Father.

Deep was the forest and dark was the grief; I stumbled over pebbles in search of heaven and peace. And when I was tempted to raise my hands and give up, I heard a loving whisper from my Father to instead look up. Surrounded in darkness, tears clouding the sky, I began to see with my spiritual eyes. What I saw is hard to describe … for I discerned a constellation of blessings to which I was previously blind. 

Each blessing, a dim fleck of light, came into view of my spiritual sight. It didn’t matter however great or small, when I recognized these tender mercies something inside me began to arise and stand tall. I was not abandoned in darkness and grief – instead I was tutored to see heaven’s blessings and in them find a measure of peace.