Mitch followed me wherever I went. He was my shadow … my dear child and sweet little friend. He seemed to always find comfort being around me and in his absence I have come to realize how much comfort I took in being around him. 

Last summer we had some family over for a BBQ . Everyone was inside or up the hill in our back yard talking. I found myself at the grill doing what dad’s do and I turned to the place Mitch usually sat while I cooked and he wasn't there. Never a chair seemed so empty. I started to cry. 

I took this photo a summer prior as Mitch sat with me while I prepared dinner at the grill one hot summer evening. It was a perfect night and I enjoyed listening to Mitch talk to me about his plans for the future. I normally never take selfies because I am far more interested in what I see in other people than I am in seeing myself. But this time I made an exception because I was with my sweet boy and I wanted a photo of the two of us. I almost didn't take this – but I am so glad I did. 

I think I am beginning to understand the deeper meaning of the scriptural passage “the valley of the shadow of death.” Over the years I have heard many recite that passage as though they were words from a hallmark card. But I have come to learn that all of ancient scripture are not only accounts of mankind’s dealings with God, but a record of real sorrows, what we’re to learn from them and why we suffer. Deep inside that poetic prose are words that carry heavy meaning. 

Death indeed has cast its shadow. Shadows, by their very definition limit ones view – we cannot see what happens over there. And in death’s towering shadow I find myself on a journey through the valley of grief … a valley that is deep in the shadows … deep in grief. It is a place where I stumble and a place where I weep as my heart and mind search for my son and that unspeakable peace. 

I miss my son, my shadow. I love him. I weep for him. And as I find my way through the valley of grief and sorrow, deep in the shadow of death, I am not afraid … for I know God lives. I know He loves us. And while being mortal we may be required to suffer – there is a divine reason for all that we experience. If we look inward and upward we can learn and grow … even through the dark shadows and deep valleys that only God knows.