When Mitch was tiny, he would sit in the back of a trailer attached to a 4-wheeler while his uncle drove short distances at a quick speed. Mitchell’s chubby little fingers gripped tightly the side of the trailer as he screamed and laughed like a baby pirate in pursuit of childhood treasures. Laura-Ashley and Ethan sat beside him and giggled at how fearless their little brother seemed.
Afterward, I would show Mitch the photos I took and he would say, “Dat made my tummy gig-go.” I would burst out in love-filled laughter, then hug and kiss his cheek. To this day, I can almost feel his little arms around my neck as I hugged him.
As he grew older, Mitch loved rollercoasters. He was fearless and enjoyed the rush and thrill of any ride – no matter how big and scary it may have seemed to an adult. During his last few years, I would have to reach over and hold his head steady on rollercoasters because his neck muscles were getting weaker. Sometimes while Mitch was laughing on a ride I would find myself crying; the combination of tears and the rushing wind blinded me from seeing my son’s smile. I cried because I knew everything my son enjoyed was coming to an end; not through death per se, but because DMD was destroying his muscles and I knew there would come a time he wouldn’t have the strength to lift his head from a pillow. A bitter irony for a little boy who drank life in by the goblet and spared no opportunity for adventure.
When I look back at this time with tiny Mitch, and the million-and-one other times just like this, my heart overflows with gratitude. Yes, heartache happened, but so did indescribable joy and fulfillment. Hurt is the eventual price we pay for love – whether we love a parent, sibling, child or pet … one day, we will lose all of them to time, circumstance and death. But that hurt is a small price to pay for a shot at love. I wouldn’t trade all the hollow pleasures and treasures of earth for this kind of love. It simply doesn’t compare.
This little boy happened … and with him came a hurt I never imagined, not even in my darkest nightmares. But so also came a love and joy I never supposed, not even in my most heavenly dreams.
This happened, the good and bad, and I am better for it. I thank my Father every single day on bended knee; for I know love and sorrow, and now I see.
I am posting a few other photos from this series on Instagram: