It was late afternoon and the air was almost uncomfortably humid and warm, even in the shadow of my home. It was Father’s Day 2012 – for those new to this blog, that was my last Father’s day with Mitch. My children each prepared a thoughtful gift and handed them to me. As I opened each gift carefully I looked my kids in the eyes thanked them for their love. Mitch sat next to me, like he always did at the dinner table. I miss that. Although I appreciated their thoughtful gifts – having them in my life was gift enough. A gift so grand I could scarcely contain myself. 

I was always confused as a young child when I asked my mother or father what kind of present they wanted for their birthday. They would respond softly in their own way, “Oh, just draw me a picture or write me a letter. That is what I really want.” My little mind pondered over their answers, confused why they didn’t want a toy or the next new thing. After becoming a parent, I began to understand their answer. I would trade every possession I have for another handwritten note from Mitch. They are treasures to me and always will be. 

When I first stumbled into this photo I wasn’t sure what to make of it. My heart first swelled to see a photo of Mitch and me together because they are relatively rare … at the same time it sank a little as I couldn’t help but wonder what was going on in the heart and mind of my son. Did he sense his life was coming to an end? Sometimes I think so. The more I reflect on my conversations with Mitch (many of which I have audio recorded and may share in future posts) I am beginning to sense something was brooding inside him. It was almost as if his soul knew something neither of us did – at least consciously. Mitch left little breadcrumbs that would suggest he sensed something big was going to happen. How big and terrible, we knew not.

Ironically, about 10 months before this photo was taken I told a business partner of mine, one with whom I share sacred conversations, that I sensed great unrest on the horizon. I told him I felt a significant change in my life was coming … so significant my soul nearly shivered. Yet, I wasn’t sure what it was. I even wrote about it in my journal. Sure enough, we would soon learn Mitchell’s heart was in serious trouble and that time was all we had left. 

That brooding sense something was on the horizon was one of many tender mercies from my Father. A warning of love and compassion … a warning to make moments matter before it was too late. That intuition … that whisper from a higher power was not an isolated event. My Father told me something was wrong with Mitch the moment I first laid eyes on him in the delivery room. I knew it … in every way a human and soul could know something … I knew it. In the coming months, as I held my young infant I would begin to sense that not only was something wrong, but that his life would be short. I tried to brush that feeling off as nonsense … but deep inside, I’ve come to learn that insight was heaven-sent. 

I am grateful for those [nearly] invisible warnings. They remind me so much more is happening than we have a mind to know. 

At least for me, the more I examine and understand the past, the more equipped I am to live in the present. I appreciate the value of a moment much more today than I did a few years ago. When I think of all the stupid things I did, the trivial pursuits, the wasted moments and opportunities lost … I wince a little on the inside. But, I don’t let my regrets break me, instead I use them to shape me. 

I suppose that’s the power of the examined life ... we stumble and fall, but we’re still alright.