When our children were little they looked forward to our Friday night den parties. I remember these nights so well. After they were bathed and dressed in their jammies, each child would carry a Sippy cup of juice mixed with a little water, a small bowl of popcorn and their favorite treat into our family room to watch a Disney movie. We didn’t have much – so we made what little we had count. Despite our struggle to make ends meet life was sweet back then and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. 

I had a lot of self-doubt at the time, wondering about my place in the world and what I was supposed to do with my life. But one thing I never doubted was my desire to be a good husband and a loving father. I loved being a dad. I wasn’t the best at it … I really wasn’t … but I tried. Looking back, I would have done so much differently as a father. Yet, I don’t let my failures of the past haunt me … instead, I try to forge those failures into a personal lesson learned. A kind of mental note I take, so I can avoid future mistakes. I’m not sure I am good at that, either. But I keep trying to learn and grow from my wins and losses. One of the many beautiful things about children is their unconditional and abundant love. No matter how many times I might have disappointed them, been grumpy or impatient, they forgave me freely … and for that, I am eternally grateful. 

It is interesting how forgiveness begets deeper love – and deeper love begets more forgiveness. Another note taken.

So on this ordinary summer night, Mitch became especially giddy. This tiny boy, the youngest of the bunch, loved being with his older siblings at every opportunity. He wanted to be just like them. 

Mitch danced around the room in his cute little sweat pants and Spiderman shirt singing incoherent songs. He would then run back to this table, take a quick drink, then prance around some more. I could never pick him up and kiss him enough – sticky cheeks and all.

Reflecting back on good memories has been an important part of my healing – and I am grateful for so many of you who have listened with caring hearts and mourned with those that mourn. There is healing in that, too. Though I reflect on my memories in this place, I am actively creating new memories with my family – and that is just as important to my own healing. I need them both. 
As ordinary and routine as life may have felt at the time, looking back, these moments now serve as a counter balance to sorrow and loss. When grief seems especially heavy, these sweet memories give me something to be grateful for. And gratitude is no empty thing: for it fills my heart and causes my soul to sing. Gratitude, my friends, soothes grief’s terrible sting. 

Note taken.