THE GOOD FIGHT

At the head of my son’s bed lay his favorite Halo mask and toy gun. 

I purchased that mask when Mitch went to work with me, just before his last Halloween. He loved to have pretend battles with his friends; many of whom would call him “Sir” or “Master Chief” to show their willingness to follow his lead. While Mitch was physically weakest among them, he possessed a strength and influence that transcended muscle and bone. Mitch, unaware, was a quiet but natural leader. 

Even to this day, almost two years since I lost him, he leads me in the battle field of life. Whether I wrestle with enemies of the mind and heart, or take refuge from a sudden onslaught of grief, Mitch has shown me what it means to fight the good fight and to endure suffering with a grateful, loving heart. Though I cannot always control the struggles of life, I can decide how to respond to those struggles. How I respond makes all the difference.

I draw strength and inspiration from my timid little boy who struggled to walk, breathe and eventually live. I'll never forget little Mitch laying in this very spot, saying in shallow breath, “I don't think I can survive.” That quiet utterance broke my heart then and it breaks it again today. 

Little Mitch faced an implacable, fatal enemy; and though DMD took his life, he fought the good fight, and he won. Mitch reminded me the battles that matter most in life have less to do with the body and more to do with the soul. 

He taught me how to look past my troubles and find gratitude with what I have. Mitch taught me whatever I have is enough … and when there isn't enough, to share anyway. Mitch taught me how to bear my burdens with a glad heart and cheerful countenance. He showed me a heavenly paradox … that to lift another’s burden strangely lifts my own. These lessons, and many others, have sunk deep into my bones.

My sweet boy fought the good fight, and though he died, he won. As I face different battles I hope to fight the good fight so that one day, on some distant field, I might see my son.

ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS AND KINGS

During his short life Mitch was blessed with some very special relationships. Evan, one of his older cousins, was one such blessing. 

Whenever possible Evan had Mitch on his shoulders, physically or emotionally, and helped him do what was difficult or lonely. At every family event this good soul always seemed to make sure my son was included. Mitch loved him like a brother and I know Evan loved him, too. That’s the funny thing about service: you can’t help but love and be loved. I wonder how many world conflicts could be solved by serving with love those we are tempted to hate.

In so many ways, it seemed as if Evan and Mitch were cut from the same spiritual cloth and that somehow, in some heavenly place before they came to earth, they knew each other … and well. 

When Mitch was sick and dying, just a few days before he passed, Evan called my phone and left a tender and loving message just for Mitch. I wept and I wept when I heard it. When I put myself together I shared it with Mitch and he cried, too. He didn't cry because he was sad, he cried because he was loved, and he felt it. Once again Evan put Mitch on his shoulders and carried him a ways. That message is still on my phone and I cannot bring myself to delete it. 

I’m convinced on the shoulders of giants and noble kings are the people they serve. They don’t use their stature to be served by others, but rather to serve others. The giants of which I speak lift so others might see and do things that are out of reach. And noble kings do the same, in kind. Neither gives thought to keeping score, ever looking to serve others more. 

If ever I lose my way and forget how to live and love, I will look to this image and remember the special bond between these noble souls. This is how I want to live and love – and I am grateful for these young boys for teaching me.