I didn't always get to take my son to school, but when I did, I loved every minute of it. On this day I was walking him to class and he was so excited to show me his desk, his name tag and where he hung his backpack. Mitch belonged to something … a class of elementary school students and friends … something that was uniquely his and he was proud of it. And I was so proud of him. 

As I held my son’s hand on this ordinary day I had no way of knowing in less than 2 short years … years that would go by in a blink … I would hold his hand for the last time as I kissed his tender face and whispered in his ear how much I loved him. My words to him were the last words he ever heard. When I think back on the night he passed away, I have come to know he held on long enough for me to tuck him in and to love and assure him. I am so grateful that I was able to steady his mind and heart one more time.

Between the moment of this photo and the night he passed away I told Mitch I loved him a million times and more. My words to him were never empty sounds but always overflowing with sincerity and feeling. As often as possible, I believe words ought to be felt as well as heard. Not a day would pass that I wouldn't tell him repeatedly that I loved him. The same is true with all of my children. 

This look on Mitchell’s face is so familiar to me; his soft smile and loving eyes were often on his countenance. I always tried to be a mirror to him – to show him the same love and affection he so freely shared. The funny thing about love is it’s a contagion. What’s more, you cannot give it away without magnifying love in your own heart. Another heavenly paradox. 

When I reflect on the nearly 11 years I had with this little boy, the saying “the days are long, but the years are short” has moved from a saying on the wall to a sobering reality. Looking back, some days were very long … but the years flew by like a flash. My wife and I would give anything to have those long days again … when at bedtime we found ourselves drunk with exhaustion, desperate for a break, or a bath, or bed. To have those moments of fatigue were an infinitesimally small price to pay to love and raise our son. 

I love being a father; it is a blessing beyond measure. And I hope that despite my weaknesses, which are many, that I live up to that sacred responsibility. And on that fateful day, when the sun sets on my own life and I journey to that place beyond the hills, I want my children to look back on their lives and know they were told in word and deed how much they were loved … a million times and more.