Today Natalie was helping me clean and organize my office at work. I love her for always helping me.
She stumbled into a little drawer that I hadn’t opened in a few years. Among the many little treasures found therein was an unopened pack of grape bubblegum that expired in 2013. I immediately remembered the circumstances surrounding that little pack of gum. It was October 29, 2012 ... the day Mitchell came to work with me before we went to the hospital to check on his heart. We went to the grocery store, and he said, “Dad, can I get that gum? I just love grape bubblegum.“ I knew time was short with him, so I was eager to help him enjoy things I often take for granted.
As we returned to the office, Mitch sat at my desk and began playing Minecraft on my laptop. He handed me the unopened pack of gum and said, “Dad, will you put this in a safe place? I’ll eat this next time I come to work with you.” I had all but forgotten about this experience until Natalie shared the expiration date with me and pointed to the little cubby drawer where she found it.
My heart was awash with feelings of love and appreciation for Mitch. I didn’t feel grief ... instead, I felt gratitude for having that little boy in my life. I then thought to place this in a little treasure box I have dedicated for special memories of my son. It’s not a shrine; it’s a journal. Not all journal entries are made with pen and paper.
Little Mitch never made it back to work with me. His little treat/treasure was all but forgotten in the dark shadows of a lonely drawer.
Certainly, he was not forgotten, but this little treat he set his heart to enjoy had slipped away into the shadows and out of mind. Until today.
I did not feel any measure of grief over this little treasure and memory of Mitch. Instead, I felt gratitude and feelings of profound love for a little boy that who enriched my heart and soul. I suppose feeling more gratitude than grief is evidence that I’m healing and growing a little. Yet, in this very moment, I must admit that my heart suddenly feels pangs of sorrow. That’s okay because I know healing hurts.