A few years ago we took Mitch to an MDA camp. He always had mixed feelings about going because he didn't like being away from home. It was also hard for him to see other children who were much further along the devastating path of DMD.
Over the years I learned to pay close attention to Mitch. Though quiet around people he didn't know, he always left breadcrumbs that told me he was thinking and feeling more deeply than he would lead others to believe. My experience with Mitch taught me how to hear what was never said aloud and to see what was often invisible to others. Learning to hear and see things that weren't obvious helped me love and serve my son and for that I am grateful.
So, as Natalie stood in line to register Mitch for MDA camp I was taking photos of … everything. Amidst the chaos of checking in I saw a young boy pass by whose muscle deterioration was more advanced than Mitchell’s. Mitch was polite enough not to stare, but he did notice this young boy out of the corner of his eye. As this young man passed I could see Mitchell’s head following him gently until the boy was behind him and out of view. Mitch then looked out the window pondering deeply, trying to make sense of things.
It was on this day I began to see Mitchell’s true eyes: eyes that read between the lines, see through the superficial … eyes that discern. Little Mitch was beginning to see. It was after this moment that I began to notice an awakening in Mitch. And, over the following months and years I had an unshakable feeling that he was being prepared for a significant change. Just before we learned of Mitchell’s failing heart I remember telling some who were close to me that I had a brooding sense something unusual was happening and that my son was undergoing a spiritual change; a quickening of sorts. I couldn't put my finger on it, I just knew something was happening. My eyes, too, were beginning to see.
Last February, as Natalie and I were driving Mitch home from one of his last excursions he said, “I will never get well. I will never get better. I know I will die.” At the time Mitch didn't know how close he was to death, but he was beginning to sense that something was happening. Swallowing my emotions I calmly responded, “Son, we all die. That is the price of life. But you, and I … and everyone else … will continue to live after our bodies are laid to rest. What really matters it is what we do with our time, and you my sweet son have done great things. You are a good, good boy and I’m so proud of you. Don’t worry about tomorrow, let’s live for today and do the best we can, okay?” Mitch nodded his head and we began to talk about the next Lego base we were going to build.
Since that exchange in the car Natalie and I had a few other sacred conversations with our son during the weeks leading up to his passing. The closer Mitch came to death the more I started to see in him an adult soul clothed in a 10-year-olds broken body. Sometimes it was difficult to distinguish what I saw with my mortal eyes from what I was beginning to see with my spiritual eyes.
I remember telling Mitch at one point “You are not your body. We are so much more than we can see with our mortal eyes.” Mitchell’s countenance told me he was not only absorbing my words, he was beginning to see things as they really are … that life doesn't end with death.
Author Dean Koontz wrote, “Intuition is seeing with the soul.” I love that.
And, over the years I have noticed that without intuition, without eyes to see, it is easy to get wrapped up in the thick of thin things. When I look back on my experience with my son I can see that while Mitchell’s spiritual eyes were opening, so were mine.
With all that was happening I realized then [and now] that Mitchell’s soul is older than I know. But I miss my 10-year-old. So very much. What I wouldn't do for one more day, one more hour, one more second with my boy.
And while my mortal eyes are clouded with tears - ever searching for my son - I have other eyes that see past the sorrow. Eyes that see clearly. Eyes to see.