I remember walking into Mitchell’s room only to see him passed out at the head of his bed after a long day. My heart smiled to see how he gave the lion’s share of his bed space to his beloved toys – the instruments of his imagination and childhood development. 

As I left his room, after having tucked him in and kissed his sweaty forehead, I thought to myself, “What happened? We just cleaned this room an hour ago.” In his room and down the hall were toys scattered about like shrapnel from a childhood war story. An already long day seemed to get just a little longer. 

Then, like a whisper to my soul, came the words of Gretchen Rubin, “The Days are long, but the years are short.” I don’t pretend to know parental fatigue like my dear wife and every other mother in this world knows … but I do have a healthy respect for it. I try to help with parental duties but I am no match to a mother. And though there have been days where the hours seem to stretch out to infinity … where the end to a long day does not seem to come soon enough, I find myself looking back wondering where the time went.

Then enters my heart the words of Dorothy Eislin, “It will be gone before you know it. The fingerprints on the wall appear higher and higher. Then suddenly they disappear.” Sometimes they disappear much sooner than planned and in ways we wish were not so. 

I miss the mess. I miss the little fingerprints, the plastic shrapnel, and sticky counter tops. I miss the childhood tears and occasional temper tantrums. The older I get the more I want to revisit those messy moments because that was my life – and however messy and hard it may have seemed at the time, it was beautiful. 

The childhood messes of yesteryear seem less painful today than they did back then. I suppose a few short years from now the teenage messes I face today will be seen with similar eyes. And before I know it, my dear wife and I will be empty-nesters. Our home will suddenly be silent and we will long for the mess and noise we, in moments of fatigue, once wished away. Little Mitch taught me to slow down, unplug and enjoy the moment – for they slip through our fingers faster than we have hands to grasp.

The years are indeed short, and I intend to make the most of them.

This year I will share many new stories of Mitch. Some will be hard to read; others will be hopeful. Above all, I hope to find meaning, if not for anyone else … for myself. For the words I write here in this place are the aching and longing of my heart. They are a journal of whispers to my soul and trembling footsteps on the path toward healing. And I am healing. 

I am healing.