It wasn’t many years ago Natalie and I took little Mitch to Shriners Hospital for a check-up. The leaves were crunchy and the season had changed from a hot summer to a crisp, cool fall. I love every season for many reasons; each is beautiful in its own way and I’m grateful for the reminder that things are temporary and everything changes.
I remember this day so vividly. Mitch was ever-so-tender and Wyatt was full of life and energy. Natalie chased the boys around the park as they threw leaves in the air and giggled. Sonya, Natalie’s sister, worked at Shriners and left the hospital to enjoy a little of the afternoon with us. It was a perfect day. To be clear, life wasn’t perfect – but as days go, it was perfect.
Little Mitch was young and our hearts were tender – our fear of the future, raw. I made it a point to go to the hospital with Mitch as often as I could. In fact, I almost never missed an appointment because I didn’t want my little boy to see an empty chair where his daddy should have been. I wanted him to know how much he mattered and that I cared – for I knew a time would come when he would have to step into the dark abyss of death and I wanted him to be assured we were always at his side. That abyss came much sooner than we ever imagined and I know in the quiet of that sacred winter night, my son didn’t feel alone.
This photo was taken almost exactly 10 years ago; and today, that's about the half-way point in my life with Natalie, thus far. Today marks our 20th anniversary.
That’s 20 years I can’t get back and 20 years I would never give away – not for anything. This dear woman has been the best investment in time, energy and love I’ve ever made. Because of her, I’ve had 4 beautiful children and 1 amazing soulmate. I am a better me when she is around and I’m forever grateful for her.
In honor of our 20th anniversary, here are two essays I’ve posted on anniversaries past that describe the thoughts and feelings of my heart. These words aren't still true ... they are more true today than the day I first wrote them.
JUST THE BEGINNING (2014)
September 6, 2017 | 7:20PM
The best 20 years of my life have been with this girl. Tonight I gave her a surprise anniversary gift that represent her greatest treasures. Her dad took this photo and I had it framed to include little Mitch.