GRATITUDE, JOY & LAUGHTER
It was a hot, muggy and vaguely miserable summer-like afternoon. We were at a family reunion/vacation far from home. The days were long, and there was a lot of travelling and waiting in the heat. Even the shade of trees didn’t offer much comfort from the suffocating humidity. It was easy to feel miserable.
Mitch could tell Ethan was getting worn out by the heat, so he called out to his older brother, “Effie, come over here. I’ll give you a ride.” Ethan smiled with relief and ran to his little brother who wanted only to serve him. With a childlike thump, Ethan plopped his bum on the seat, and Mitch powered up his scooter. Just then, mischievous Mitch turned to his brother and began to blow on his face. “There, are you cool now?” Ethan grimaced, and they both began to laugh and laugh. Mitch never missed an opportunity to laugh or make any heavy situation seem light.
There is a layer to little Mitch I don’t often write about, and that is his sense of humor. As Mitchell’s body grew from toddler to young boy, his mind and soul began to grow in unexpected ways. On more than a thousand-and-one occasions, I was startled by his intelligence, deep insight or brilliant humor. I admired him and often said to myself, “Who are you, really?” I sensed a greatness in him that was just beneath the surface of that otherwise quiet little boy … I sensed an old soul slowly awakening and that he had a very special purpose on this earth.
As I look at this photo, and many like them, I remember how often Mitch taught me the importance of laughing whenever you can. To this day, some of the funny things he did years ago still make me giggle – and my soul smiles. How I love that little boy. How I miss him.
At the time of this photo, Mitch was becoming noticeably weaker as compared to the rest of his friends. While they ran at top speed, he stumbled and could hardly walk the distance of a basketball court without his legs almost giving out beneath him. While they jumped, he fell to the ground. The world was closing in on little Mitch, and there was no escape from the muscle wasting that was slowly taking his life away from him.
Life for Mitch was a lot like this hot summer day; it would have been easy to feel miserable.
What I love about this ordinary image is how it captured his resolve for joy. Mitch never saw his glass half empty, nor did he see it half full. He was just grateful there was something in it.
Oh, what a difference it makes to treasure what we have instead of measure what we don’t.
Mitch taught me that when I find gratitude in what I have, joy follows. And where there is joy, there is laughter.