For Valentines Day, I wanted to share another video of Mitch from the Letters to My Son series. When we took Mitch home from the hospital he wanted to share a message with our family about love - a fitting topic for this time of year.
There was a tender irony in the timing of things. His heart was failing during a holiday that celebrated matters of the heart. Though his physical heart was weak, the heart of his soul was strong. He was the giant, and me ... very much the child.
In this video, you'll see Mitch tenderly listening to a book he asked his mother read. I believe Mitch wanted us to remember its message, long after he would pass away. And in this story is a message within a message.
I'm just a regular dad who struggles to be the best he can be. I have a long way to go - yet, however much I stumble, I can feel an invisible string that connects Mitch and me.
Here is the transcript of the video:
I had a dream about you last night and I awoke in a panic. In my efforts to replace my thoughts of anguish with something of peace, I remembered something about you – and it calmed my weary heart.
When it was time for you to leave the hospital, you couldn't get out of there fast enough. You were anxious to be a little boy again and to put the labor of medicine behind you. Your mother pushed you in a wheelchair to the curb and gently helped you get seated in the car.
As we were about to leave, you said, "Mom, isn't it my turn to teach family night?" Our hearts swelled and broke at the same time – you see, you were less concerned about playing with friends and toys and more about sharing something that was on your mind and heart.
You had a lesson in mind and you wanted to share it us – and it is a lesson we’ll never forget.
Your mother said, "Yes, Mitch, it's your turn. Do you really want to teach a lesson for family night??" You nodded your head and said “Yes, mom. I have it all planned out.” With that, it was settled – you were going to share a lesson with us and we were excited to learn from you.
What followed is best described as the longest drive of my life. We were on a one-way trip. There would be no more doctors, no more hospital visits to keep you healthy. Our job was to usher you to the other side of the veil. I worried whether we did enough to teach you – but it was realizing it was you who was here to teach me.
The next day you awoke, and you began preparations for family night. You chose a few books to read and prepared some important talking points about what it means to love.
You asked your mother to read the books - which she did ... like she did every night. I think you would have read them just fine, but I think you wanted her to read them so it would start to feel life was getting back to normal.
The first book you chose was called, The Invisible String … a story about a string of love you cannot see with your eyes, but you can feel with your heart.
Like that beautiful author described, there is an invisible string between you and me. It tugs at me daily.
The look on your face said all that needed to be said. You were listening so close to the message of the story – a story about love and the bonds that tie us together.
I couldn’t help but notice you breathing hard because your heart was weak. A friend of mine observed, after you passed, that it was ironic that a child whose heart was broken could teach so much about love. You loved that story because it spoke the thoughts and feelings of your heart – that no matter where we go on earth or in heaven, there will always be an invisible string that connects us.
That book will forever be treasured by our family – for as long as we live. For like the author wrote, there is an invisible string and we will always be connected. Looking back I wonder if that was one of the messages you wanted us to know before you left us.
You’re gone now … far from view. But I can still feel that string tug at my heart – and it will always tug at me – for as long as I shall live. That is the magic children have on their parents. Now, and forever.
This video essay is part of a series entitled, Letters to My Son. You can see other letters from this series by clicking the button below.