Last summer Ethan got a little motorcycle to tool around on. He loved the sport and his thoughtful mother arranged to surprise Ethan for his birthday. We did a great job selling Ethan that he’d never get one because it was too dangerous, etc. He had given up asking for one – which made the surprise all the sweeter. With the help of some amazing neighbors who helped source and assemble the motorcycle (thank you Seth Lloyd), Ethan had the surprise of his life.

Little Wyatt, who is now fast approaching the age of Mitch when he passed away, was so excited for his brother. Though he was anxious to enjoy a gift he never thought he’d get, Ethan looked at Wyatt’s big eyes and said, “Do you want a ride?” Wyatt smiled with delight as his older brother handed him his helmet. Carefully they drove down our cul-de-sac and as Wyatt carried with him an enormous grin. These are the kind of days parents live for. To see your child find joy is one thing, but to see your child give joy to another is altogether different. That is a satisfaction of a deeper sort. If I find deep joy in watching my own children love and lift another, how might our Father feel about us doing the same to each other?

Ethan has told me on several occasions that he wants to use the lessons he’s learned from his fallen brother to help others. At 14 years of age, he reads Mitchell’s Journey all the time and comes back to me with ideas, insights and self-discoveries. Sometimes I cry when I reflect on the things he says – for tender mercies abound. 

Ethan has learned to put his arm around Wyatt like he did Mitch. Every day he is shaping his little brother through kindness and brotherly mentorship. Oh, they’re not perfect. They’re just like any young brothers who tease and fight – they take things too far and their arguments sometimes seem to go on too long. They both have their strengths and growth opportunities, like all of us do. But the point isn’t that they stumble, but rather how they get back up again. Their forgiveness isn’t conditional. I love that.

To young Wyatt, on this warm summer afternoon, his older brother was a super brother-turned superhero. He inspired me just as much as his little brother.