We didn't know it, but this was Mitchell’s last summer. As much as he enjoyed giant roller coasters, Mitch sometimes opted for the smaller ones so he could rest a little. Because generalized muscle weakness was settling in, riding the bigger coasters was hard for him. And, whenever he went on a big one, I would sit next to him, reach over and hold his head steady and do for him what his neck muscles no longer could. Mitch loved the thrill of rides.

On this occasion, Mitch and his brother Ethan were taking a ride on a much smaller roller coaster. I sat outside the perimeter and took photos with my larger lens. Though I was a distance away, it was almost as though I were sitting next to them. I have a bunch of photos from this series, each photo revealing different expressions of thrill, laughter, and surprise. 

With a rush of wind, the caterpillar shaped ride whipped by me at lightning speed – offering brief relief from the heat of the summer sun. Each time they passed where I was standing Mitch would make very deliberate eye contact with me and smile. I would always smile back as though to say, “I love you, son.” 

On this particular ride, I asked Mitch why he and Ethan closed their eyes. Mitch said he wanted to know if the ride would be different if he couldn't see. He said with great enthusiasm, “It worked! It was so fun. It was like a totally different ride.”

I love this photo on so many levels. I see two young brothers that loved each other with all of their hearts. Neither of them were peeking, but instead honorably doing what they agreed to do: experience the ride without sight. How easy it would have been to cheat and crack their eyes open a little, but as far as I can tell, they didn't. And what I know of these boys, they wouldn't. That is just like them: honest and true, through and through.

I am sure their memory of this experience may have faded quickly from their young minds, but I haven’t forgotten this moment. And at the time, I couldn't stop thinking about it. I thought to myself, “Perhaps little Mitch was on to something. How often do I go through life relying solely on the things that are plain to see? Perhaps, when I do, I’m cheating myself from life’s deeper mysteries.” I’ve always tried to look at life through spiritual eyes, but I’m still human and sometimes I forget.

This much I do know … when I look at my life with mortal eyes, I see sorrow and loss much differently … painfully. But when I close my lids, and listen with my soul to that quiet, heavenly bid, I know there’s more to life that I can possibly see. I am grateful for a loving Father who patiently waits as I learn to see things differently.

Who would have thought, two young boys on a rickety roller coaster ride would accidentally teach me something about seeing with my spiritual eyes? 

I am human. I am still blind. But more and more, I’m learning to see with my spiritual mind.

One day, when I truly have eyes to see, my heart won’t carry that constant ache that hurts so terribly. In fact, my mind and heart will see things so differently. For, all my pain will have been traded for spiritual gain. Then, with tears in my eyes, I will see my boy so differently. I was never really teaching him, you see, for he was teaching me.