Several months before Mitch passed away a friend and colleague handed me a metal coin he created for one of his businesses. On the face of it was etched a butterfly and the word transformations. He gave it to his clients as a token and reminder of what we are meant to become, something far greater than we currently are. This good man, who has faced incredible difficulties of his own, learned to channel his own disappointment and sorrow into love and the service of others. I admire him greatly.

On this afternoon we took Mitch and the kids to the mountains where we would take our second-to-last family photo. Had I known what little time was left, I would have asked Natalie if we could take turns driving so we could each cuddle with our son. 

We found ourselves at our destination surrounded by a forest whose colors, save a few patches, were nearly gone. Mitch and the kids scooted down old wood trail across the marshland. I reached into my pocket and discovered the coin my friend gave me, which I mistakenly thought I left on my office desk. As I held it I couldn't help but take a photo of it and contemplate the process of transformation. Soon, I would find myself wrapped in a cocoon of grief, wondering if all was lost and if life would ever be worth living again. Such is the sorrow of losing a child.

I really don’t know much about grief, but I’m learning a little each day, and each day I experience a little more of a transformation. I used to write of my journey THROUGH grief, as though somewhere a great way off, there would be an end to it. Any more, I write of my journey WITH grief. For as far as I can tell, grief will be my companion so long as I live on this earth. Such, also, is the sorrow of losing a child.

There was no way of knowing what would happen when I started Mitchell’s Journey. Like a camping tent, I set it up with the intent to eventually take it down. I don’t think I can do that now. Mitchell’s Journey has transformed into something I’m still trying to understand. 

I will still write of hard things because hard things happened. I will share hard stories because I don’t want anyone to ever confuse DMD as an inconvenient journey. Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is a fatal journey. 100% catastrophically fatal. Not one can escape it.

I recognize, also, the exhausting toll such stories can take. So, I am also going to write of the transformation I’m experiencing and the hope and happiness I feel in my heart. Today I feel as much joy in my heart as I do sorrow, which thing I never imagined nor ever quite supposed. The journey of grief has taken me places I never had a mind to go.

To those who are stumbling deep in the wilderness of grief, I want you to know there is eventually peace. It will never stay, not like it did before, but you will appreciate it when peace comes to you more and more. The road is long and skies sometimes dark and bleak, trust me when I tell you … somewhere out there, on your own journey, is happiness and peace. Just keep moving forward at your own steady pace and remember the journey of grief is not a race.

One day, perhaps at our journey’s end, we will look back on our broken paths and marvel at where we've been. I wonder if the parts of us we thought were so broken will be the very thing that transforms us like the promise of this token.