LITTLE THINGS ARE BIG THINGS
With each visit to the hospital, we became progressively more nervous. The news was never good, and always worse.
I made it a priority to go with Mitch to these doctor’s visits. I knew what was at stake and no business agenda was more important than supporting my little boy and my aching wife. I never wanted him to turn his head and find an empty chair next to him, where his father should have been when he needed a shoulder to lean on. I never wanted him to feel alone.
This was the day we learned Mitchell was in serious trouble. He didn't know it. He felt normal. And until his last month, Mitchell was never sick – which surprised his cardiologist, because he should have been profoundly ill. For this we were grateful and counted it among the many tender mercies we've received along this difficult journey.
After his ECHO we sat in an examination room waiting for the results. As I was fussing with my camera bag I noticed out of the corner of my eye, through the reflection of a mirror, little Mitch and his Mom playing catch. He giggled as they tossed a stuffed parrot back and forth. He loved parrots and he loved playing catch so this was a double-win for him. Natalie could have given him a digital pacifier (like an iPod) and she could have disappeared into a magazine or Pinterest as a means of escaping. Instead, she gave him all the love and attention she had – no matter how exhausted she might have been. It’s been said that the greatest act of sincerity is to give someone 100% of your attention. My sweet wife has always given our children 100% of her mind and heart.
To Mitch, little things were big things. A simple hug, a squeeze of the hand, a warm facial expression – everything meant so much to him.
Last summer my daughter quietly followed Mitch as he walked into his room only to discover a hand written note I put on his bed that read “Hi Mitch, I just wanted you to know that I think you are awesome and I love being your dad”. Peering down the hall under the cover of shadows, she quietly saw Mitch sit on the edge of the bed, read the note as his eyes filled with tears. He sat there for a bit, visibly touched and crying, wiping his eyes and then carefully placing my note in his night stand next to other things he treasured. I had long forgotten that I even gave him a note that day and had no idea it would touch him like that. It was a simple note … not very profound and my only hope was to give him a momentary, invisible hug while I was at work. But for Mitchell, it was more than that.
My daughter told me about this a few months ago and upon hearing this story I began to cry. It is a strange thing to have your heart break and swell at the same time.
Jupiter, it seems, is a place of paradox.
When I look back upon our life with Mitch and my other children, it was never the big trips that carry the sweetest memories. Often it was the impromptu campouts, the conversations on the grass, playing board games around the kitchen table and throwing a Frisbee at the park at dusk. It was playing “I Spy” in the car on the way to grandmas or trying to catch frogs with a butterfly net and screaming when they jumped out. It was playing catch with a stuffed parrot in the hospital.
These are little moments that are so easy to pass by. But they are the moments that carry the biggest memories. At least for me, these moments often came at the expense of convenience.
Earth, too, has its share of paradoxes: little things being big things are one of them. And the little things ... the invisible things … often make or break us.
I believe one day, when we've all passed on … when the fog is lifted from our spiritual eyes … we will look back on this life and wonder why we put so much energy into the things that are of least importance. I believe we’ll see with great clarity … that big things (by the world’s standards) were in fact the smallest of things … and the little things were the biggest.
This little moment between Mitch and his mom was then, and remains today, enormous. Within 4 months of this photo being taken our sweet little boy would pass away. We had no idea how precious time was. We are glad between this moment and his last he had many, many little moments that were big moments. Moments money cannot buy. Moments we will never forget.
I am deeply grateful for the little things.