It is not always easy. It is often filled with pain, and struggles, and tears.
And yet beautiful it remains.
One of the most beautiful things to ever happen in my life is captured in the picture to your right.
For those of you who don't know him, this is our son Derek, born November 7, 2001. He was a big surprise in our lives, born over 14 years after son number two, Jeff.
And then he was gone, taken by SIDS less then a year later, on October 14, 2002.
As I am writing this, the 15th anniversary of that date is tomorrow.
Such a enigmatic word.
For with tomorrow comes new hope that just maybe it will be better than today was. As the book of Lamentations says, there are new mercies that come with the rising of the sun each morning.
But tomorrow all too often in our lives serves as a convenient way to put off today, as we slave away to the tyranny of the urgent.
We fool ourselves into thinking that we will get it done "tomorrow", when the truth is, if we let it, something else will come up that further delays our good intentions.
I'd like to sit here and share that Derek's death took care of that once and for all in my own life.
God chose to give us three more beautiful children after Derek was gone, and I can't even imagine not having Andrew, and Karalynn, and Amy in my life.
I have seen my two older boys follow the paths God has given to them, and also be shaped by the events of those days. I am so proud of them for the men they have become and love their wives and our grandchildren dearly.
And what can I say about Nancy? We have been through some wars together. No man could ask for a better life partner, soul mate, and friend. Without her I am nothing.
And yet so often the very people that make life worth living are pushed aside, as all the things that I "have to take care of" are given priority, as if my family is just a task I can move down my list.
I won't lie. It's been a tough week around the Carlson household. Emotions run high this time of year. I haven't been the husband, father or boss I should be this week. I am grateful for the patience and mercy that has been shown to me.
When it comes down to it, I think anniversaries such as these are a mercy in themselves, as painful as they may be.
They serve as a reminder that no matter how much time I think I have, in reality I have no control whatsoever.
As I walked out the door to go to work that crisp autumn Monday morning I never expected to get a call less than 5 hours later that my son was dead.
Some would call what happened 15 years ago a tragedy.
But the real tragedy would be to forget.
To learn nothing from the journey we have been on since that day.
I could fill pages with stories of the kindnesses that were shown, the struggles that we shared, and the lessons that we are still learning.
If there were no Derek, life would have been very different.
But avoiding that heartache would have cost so much more. A price too steep to pay.
Someday for each of us there will not be another one. We all know that, but it is so much easier to push it into the back of our minds and not think about it. I am right there with you.
But today I am going to think about it for awhile as I celebrate Derek, whose short life made such a lasting impact on my own.
And Your Today?
Hug someone a little longer. Take steps to mend a relationship. Let someone know you care about them. Say "thank-you" to someone for a kindness shown. Ignore another's offense toward you. Work hard to become the person you want to be, for there is joy in the journey.
Don't put it off to a tomorrow that may never come.