I’m sitting quietly under the canopy of night reading my journals. These worn out books cover over 30 years of my life: stories of struggle, despair, breakthroughs and spiritual awakenings. The sound of crickets makes this moment even more nostalgic.
I have over 200 new #mitchellsjourney stories I’ll begin to publish soon. But tonight, I wanted to look further back in time.
In an earlier essay, I made reference to a dream I had that was a foreshadowing of my journey with Mitch. I’ve had two of them, years apart, in fact. They weren’t ordinary dreams - they seemed to come from a much deeper place. It’s interesting to read the details of those dreams in my own handwriting; a kind of forewarning from so many years ago.
I don’t pretend to know what’s really happening in this life, I only know we’re not alone and that something divine walks before us, beside us, and guides our ways ... most often sight unseen. Only in retrospect do things make the most sense, it seems. All the pain, injustice, joy and opportunity I’ve ever known are deeply interconnected.
When I take the time to recognize and document the many points of light in my life, I discover a kind of new, fresh courage when I step into the unknown. Life can be bewildering and hard at times, but it is also sweet and good.
This August: Featured Essays on the Making the Most of Time
Just yesterday my boys and I were hustling to get ready for church. Just before we left, I found Wyatt in Mitchell’s room with a reverent disposition – as if he were visiting his brother’s space to quickly to hit reset and get grounded. I love Wyatt and have grown to admire the good young man he is.
There was a special, tender spirit in that room yesterday and my heart melted a little.
Last fall, someone saw a different post of mine where I mentioned Mitchell's room remained untouched. Someone glibly posted, "No shrines. It's not healthy." It is my nature to think carefully over things, so I began to contemplate if my son's room was a shrine, as this man callously pointed out.
As I tried to examine the truth of things, I walked into Mitchell's room with an open heart and mind, and I began to see unfinished Lego bases he ran out of time to make. I saw little treasures on his night stand he so carefully placed. Mitch never cared much for things – but he did associate memories with certain items, and if it had an emotional tie, he treasured it for what it meant – not so much for what it was. Little Mitch was so excited to have a bedroom of his own; you can still see childhood posters and a calendar he hastily taped and pinned to the wall when he first moved in. They aren’t level, which makes the wall decorations even more endearing.
On his bed is a piece of art I had an artist paint that represents a tender exchange Natalie had with Mitch, the night he passed away. As she lay cuddling in agony over Mitchell’s lifeless body, she had a distinct impression Mitchell’s spirit remained to comfort his mommy.
As I examined Mitchell’s room, my mind was swept up in memory, and I could almost see my son there again, breathing softly under the warmth of the morning light. It was a tender, healing moment. But healing also hurts, so I felt a little of that, too.
With few exceptions, virtually everything in Mitchell’s room remains untouched. I determined at that moment what my son's room meant to me: it's not a shrine; it's a journal.
What is a journal if not a place to reflect and remember?
One day, when we're ready, we will deal with his room. But for now, it is a tender place to go to remember and reflect. I don't go there often … but when I do, it is always met with feelings of love, gratitude, and of course a little grief.
I used to go there and weep … but now, when I visit, my soul feels more peace than grief. It is a journal not confined to pencil and paper – but instead, one I can see, touch, and remember a little boy who shaped my heart and enlarged my soul.