HANDLE WITH CARE
Mitch sat quietly on the edge of his bed as his mother carefully opened care packages from all across the world. His little heart was weary and about to fail; so we learned to appreciate not just moments, but the moments between moments. Every second counted. Time was worth more than all the riches of earth … for soon this little boy would leave our home on a journey from which he would never return. Soon our hearts would break in ways we couldn’t imagine.
We no longer had heart monitors, respiratory readings, blood oxygen reports and the million other hospital things that reminded us he was dying. Instead, we had our little boy back. He was home. For a short time, we enjoyed the illusion everything was okay. But things were not okay. Not one bit.
Young Mitch was always touched by care packages from others; many of which bore labels on them, “Handle with Care.” It was such a tender time for our son and those words “Handle with Care” always seemed to soothe my troubled soul. Yet my son’s countenance bore a heavy burden – for I could see he knew his time was limited – which made every act of caring more special to him.
Elementary school teachers from far-off places, hearing of our son’s fate, had their classes write notes to Mitch with loving words of encouragement. Other young children taped quarters, nickels and dimes to paper and wrote with their tender hands, “Hi Mitch, here is my allowance. I hope it helps.” I wept every time I saw such letters to Mitch and I prayed that those little souls, and their caring families, would be blessed 100-fold for their kindness.
Young Mitch was confused that people he didn’t know would care so much about him. He would read letters from others and say with shallow breaths, “They are so nice to me.”
While Mitch slept, I would kneel outside his door and thank my Father for the tender mercies in our life. I knew we would not be spared from sorrow [no one ever is], so I learned to be grateful for the comforts that were found in our sorrows.
One man from New Jersey sent Mitch a Halo book which arrived the night he passed away. When we opened the package and told Mitch what it was, he squeezed his mother’s hand as if he wanted to wake up and see it. Oh, how he wanted to see it. His profusion was so low he was unable to open his eyes or sit up – but he could signal us, and that broke our hearts. For inside his broken little body was a spirit of a little boy who was very much alive and wanting to enjoy all the world had to offer.
Handle with care. I can’t get those words out of my soul, and I don’t want to. I saw what it did for my son and what it did to my family - and I am forever grateful for the loving kindness of others. I will spend the rest of my life paying it forward.
I’m convinced the only label that should be applied to people is, "Handle with Care." For we're all sons and daughters of somebody ... loved beyond compare. After all, without love, what else is there? I'll tell you: a life filled with shiny things, yet empty and bare.
Perhaps that's what little Mitch has left behind ... messages of love that he wants me to find.