I remember this cold winter night when Natalie tucked our sweet boy in. Mitch loved to be tucked away before he slept and the closer his tender little life came to the edge of the abyss, he seemed to want that comfort more and more. I believe part of him, sensing time was short, was afraid of the night – for what if he didn’t wake? Mitch didn’t want to die; in fact, he very much wanted to live. Though his muscles were getting weaker and he was able to do less and less, he wanted to hang on to whatever life he could. As I mentioned in an earlier post, he wasn’t a glass half empty/full person … he was just glad there was something in it. For Mitch, even the smallest drop in his cup was cause for gratitude. Oh that I could be a shadow of him.
After talking for a while, Natalie reached over to Mitch and they gave each other a warm embrace. My heart swelled as I saw these two remarkable souls hold each other as if to say to each other, “I’ll hold your broken pieces.” Natalie fought valiantly to keep Mitchell’s broken body together while his sweet soul seemed to hold her broken heart and keep it as one.
There was never a night that little Mitch didn’t get this same hug from his mother. She was his greatest comfort in life and he loved her so. Though I tried to be there for my son in every way I knew how, there is simply no equal for a mother’s love.
This photo was taken January 12th, just a few days after we learned his heart was collapsing and that therapies were not working. He was denied a heart transplant because he had a fatal disease and all we had left was precious time. We didn’t know how much time – we just knew the end was coming. Natalie and I cried every night under what felt like an ever blackening sky – for hope had faded like the evening sun. In the darkness, fear of losing him loomed heavy like a thick fog and we didn’t know where to go or what to do. We just knelt and prayed for help.
Two weeks later Mitch would be admitted to the ER for end-stage heart failure … and though we already felt broken, we were about to be broken further than we could imagine as we watched our boy slowly die. Then came grief, which broke our brokenness even more.
My greatest heartache in life was then, and remains today, knowing that we couldn’t save him. That is a grief of another sort … a grief added to his death. A grief twice.
Since Mitchell’s passing, Natalie and I have learned how to hold each other’s broken pieces together. It isn’t always easy, especially when we feel like we’re falling apart ourselves – but we find a way to set aside our sorrows and be there for each other … and that is what makes the difference. The heavenly paradox, I’ve discovered, is when we help others through their troubles we somehow find ourselves helped. That is how we hold our broken pieces together. Mitch was scared, yet he tried to comfort his mom anyway. In return, he received great spiritual comfort.
I know that Mitch and my Father are holding some of my broken pieces together, pieces unknown to me. I can sense heaven’s hand in my life – and for that I am grateful. Though I carry great grief, I also carry gratitude for feelings of peace.