Every-so-often I drive by the mortuary and am reminded of the moment I saw little Mitch for the first time after he passed away. When we first entered the room we saw him lying on a table, lifeless and cold on the far end of a dimly lit room. The scene was something from a nightmare I was afraid to entertain, even in my mind. I struggled to find my breath as I swallowed the lump-turned-basketball in my throat. I stayed back so Natalie could have her time with Mitch – for I knew a mother’s love was sacred and different from mine. 

When it was my turn to be with Mitch my heart tumbled into a deep abyss and it seemed for a moment my soul was certain to drown in the darkest waters. I wished so badly to wake my son that I might hold him and tell him I loved him – but he was gone. Tears streamed down my neck this day, and for many months after. I had just entered a phase of grief where I wept every single day for almost 2 years. I didn't cry. I wept.

So when I drive by that mortuary or simply reflect upon my own experience with loss I am reminded of the fragility of life. Not that we die – for I have seen plenty of death in my life and I don’t need to be reminded that life is perishable. Rather, I think about how easy it is to die a little on the inside, long before our bodies perish. We die from addiction and distraction, grief and anger, and a myriad of other things that would rob us; stuff that will take life away from life. 

I don’t post on Mitchell’s Journey because I’m stuck in grief or that I fixate on death and sorrow. I am just trying to examine my life and discover ways to become truly alive.

I wish I could say I lived a life of no regret – but I haven’t. I don’t think it’s possible to live such a life because we are human and flawed. In fact, I am wary of the man or woman who says they lived a life of no regrets because such a tale is born of fiction and self-deception. 

Regret is an unavoidable human condition. It is the wanting for a different outcome and the pain we cannot make it so. Regret is a measure of grief. It is part of grief. Regret is part of being human. Yet, I don’t believe, being human, the purpose of life is to cling to regret, guilt or self-loathing. Life is hard enough and I have come to believe it is well enough to do your best and forget the rest. 

Do I wish I would have been different when Mitch was with me? Absolutely. Do I have regrets? I have many. But I am learning to forge those regrets in the fiery furnace of sorrow and build a new resolve that is sharper and stronger than I have ever known. 

Each time I meditate and write about grief or an aspect of my son’s life and death, I am learning to trade regret for resolve. 

One day, when I look back from that place beyond the hills, I know I will be glad I lived the life I lived. Not because I didn't make mistakes, but because I learned to turn regret into resolve. A resolve that is teaching me how to truly live. A resolve that is leading me home.

On those days I am especially weary in grief, stumbling over pebbles and struggling to breathe … I can hear a loving whisper, “Rise my son, for your time is not yet done. You aren't learning how to walk, but rather how to run.”