When Mitch was a tiny boy he’d softly say in a childlike tone, “Dad, come wiff me, I show you sumping.” With that, his chubby little hand would grab my fingers and gently tug me toward something he discovered. He was never overbearing but with great love in his heart would gently lead me along. Until his dying day, that softness never left my son – though he probably could have found any number of reasons to be angry with his lot in life. He was kind and pure and overflowing with a faith I scarcely comprehend. I think when my mortal eyes fall away and I see my son for who he truly is, I will see that he was my older brother and that he was here to teach me.
I was always fascinated by the things he found interesting; the way an ice cube melted on the kitchen table, or how bees would land on a flower and not fall off the petal, or the sheer magnificence of a sunset that captured his heart. Little Mitch was easily entreated and marveled at the little things in life. To Mitch his cup was always overflowing and he stopped at nothing to drink it all in.
On this spring day, while taking a walk as a family, my sweet little boy offered that familiar invitation “Dad, come wiff me, I show you sumping.” With a little tuft of grass in his hand he led me to a corner behind a tall tree and said in his tiny voice, struggling to pronounce the letter “L”, “Dad, wets make a fort.” I don’t remember the other things he said … I only remember getting choked up by his tenderness. I wrote in my journal that night, “How great are these little ones. Indeed, of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
When I look at this tender photo of my son I am reminded it isn't what we do together as families that matters as much as how we do it. My most treasured memories with my family aren't the big trips to Disneyland or other attractions, which things were always significant financial investments. Instead, the memories I treasure the most were the emotional investments in my children … it was the tiny adventures just down the street from where we lived; it was the cuddles on the couch, the heart-felt talks about whatever was on their mind, or the wandering conversations on the grass. Those memories are where my heart yearns to go – for they were woven with love. I would rather have one loving conversation with my children than a thousand trips to all the wonders of the world. In every way that matters, our children are the world’s greatest wonders.
Even in his later years, before he passed away, Mitch would often come to me and just as tenderly say, “Dad, come with me, I want to show you something.” I was always anxious to see the world through his eyes.
I can almost hear his whisper now, ever so softly in my mind. Only this time he see’s things that I cannot – for he has traveled down a path far from mortal view. So, I must listen closely now … I must listen with my heart and mind; for gems of the soul are, on purpose, not easy to find.
Sometimes, when I’m listening, I think Mitch still beckons me to see the things my mortal eyes are blind to, yet my spirit seeks eagerly.
I am so thankful for my little son who taught me one the most important lessons on earth and heaven above: whatever you do, do it with love.