Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Why?

AUSTIN: Arrived in this world at 4:22pm, weighing in at 9lb 6oz and 21-1/2 inches long - Departed this world (21-3/4 years later) at 8:34am, weighing in at approx. 185lbs and 6'2" tall...
As I was going through Austin's pictures and baby book, the days after he died, I came across the letter I wrote him. I had forgotten I had even written it. Here is what it said:

"Austin, you are now three months old and already you have a charming personality. I hope I can keep you as happy always, as you are now. I am going to raise you to the best of my ability and will always love you for the person you are.
I am going to make sure that you realize that when I punish or scold you it is because I love you. It probably hurts me more than it upsets you. I am going to try to give you everything you need, especially my time, understanding and love.
There are only a couple of things that I know at this point that I want to make sure you learn and become. I want to teach you to always respect others' feelings and be careful not to intentionally hurt others. I also want you to learn to respect yourself and become the best person possible. When I say the best person, I am not talking about smarts or talents, but rather the best person on the inside. I hope I can teach you to love and care for others; to try and see good in people, and to realize we are not all the same. It's alright to be different.
I hope I can be a good example to you, that you will always see love and caring in me. Life is wonderful when you respect yourself and others.
I LOVE YOU AUSTIN!
Love Mommy"
Yesterday was Austin's 22nd birthday. It was a day of remembering his life, especially regarding what an amazing young man he had become - the "best person possible".
The few months prior to Austin's accident, I often reflected on how Austin's and my relationship had changed over the past three years. From the time he was born up to when he graduated high school, our relationship had been very heavy mother-son, with me setting the limits and teaching him the values and morals I felt were important, all while loving him unconditionally. In the last 3 years we had progressed to more of a friendship and respect. Don't get me wrong, I would always be his mom, but it was now about him figuring out who he was and what he was going to claim as his own, with me walking by his side.
It was a fun journey to travel with him, watching him figure things out. He would call me and ask for my opinion, which always warmed my heart; sometimes he would follow my advice and other times he would decide not to. This was ok, as he was learning and growing and part of that process is making mistakes and learning from them. That is how we become stronger and better human beings. One thing was certain, he knew that, no matter what, I would always love him and be there for him - even if he made a poor choice. One time he texted me, "Mom, I love you you, even when I mess up." Tears came to my eyes as I texted back, "I always love you. I try to guide you from lessons I've learned through mistakes I've made or I've seen others make. I worry about you because I'm your mom and I love you!"
This was the point where our relationship had grown, where he was an independent young man, figuring the world out and loving it. After he died I thought, "I did all the hard part. I raised him, taught him, disciplined and guided him. He had just graduated from the community college, had a full-time job he enjoyed and was good at. He had just moved into his own apartment. He has beginning to enjoy the next exciting season of his life - and it was great to watch and enjoy it with him." And then I asked the questons I think we have all asked, at least once, over these past three months...
"So why did Austin have to die, just when he seemed to be starting to live? Why did we only get a little over twenty-one years with him?"
I have asked these questions numerous times. "God, why would you give me Austin and fill my heart with such love and joy, only to take him back so soon?" As of today, I have come to the conclusion that answers to these questions may never be known, at least not until we join Austin in heaven and can ask God ourselves. But, there is one question I can answer:
Why was Austin born? Why was he given to us as a son, brother, grandson, cousin, and especially a friend?
The answer is easy. "To show us love. To show us how to live life to the fullest!"
When I look at everyone Austin blessed, in his 21 years here on Earth, I am blown away. He touched so many lives through his loving and caring heart, always willing to help others. This is apparent through the words so many people have said about him, whether they've known him for a long time or just met him once. I could swear everyone is pushing a button playing back the same recording about Austin, because everyone I talk to says the same things. Things such as:
“Austin meant so much to me.” ... “Austin was such an amazing friend.” ... "He was always there for me.” ... "He was there for me when no one else was.”

“Austin brought such joy; always made me smile and laugh.” ... “He could make you laugh.” ... “Austin had such a love for life; I hope to remember to live like that.”

“Austin embraced life to the fullest.” ... “He was enthusiastic and an adventurist.” ... “He was generous and had a loving spirit.”

“He was a great guy, who would do anything for anyone.” ... “He was always willing to help you.” ... “always willing to help anyone fix anything" ... “Whenever he was curious about something he would challenge himself to learn it.”

“Amazing hugs, mischievous charming smile, beautiful blue eyes” ... “He gave the best hugs.”

“Austin was nothing but himself.” ... “warm, confident, relaxed in his demeanor, comfortable around people of all ages and walks in life. He didn’t care if you made a little or a lot – he loved you for you.”... “Austin always brought you back to what is real and good.”

“Always so happy and outgoing.” ... “He was so happy, carefree, loving, & his beautiful smiles…love of life.” ... “He was a great guy who would help anyone with anything and always had a smile on his face.” - “He was always smiling and laughing…”

“…nice and polite.” ... “a friendly hello… a kindness and genuine spirit was natural to him.” ... “He was so personable, sweet, and a real joy.” ... “Austin made such a wonderful difference in so many lives.”  

“One of the greatest people I have ever met…” -  “…an amazing person…loved by all.”

The interesting thing with all the comments shared with my husband and me after Austin’s death is the fact that they mimicked what was always said to us, unsolicited, while he was still alive. This confirms that Austin truly did touch others, in ways he never even knew! His generous spirit and love, for not only life, but also people, was contagious. I truly believe that God put Austin in all our lives so that we could feel what God’s love is like. Since Austin was only going to be with us for a short time God packed Austin so full of love and life that it radiated from him. We were all blessed to have received this gift from Austin.

So, why was Austin given to us? – to let us feel love like we couldn’t otherwise experience. Perhaps, by Austin’s leaving we have recognized his love in ways we otherwise wouldn’t.  As I write tears fall because I miss him so very, very much and selfishly, I wish he was still here. But selfishly, also, I am very thankful that he was my son, even if taken from me before I was ready to say good-bye.

“I’ll lend you for a little time a child of Mine,” He said.

“For you to love the while he lives, and mourn for when he’s dead. It may be six or seven years or twenty-one or two or three.

But will you, till I call him back, take care of him for Me?

He’ll bring his charms to gladden you, and should his stay be brief, you’ll have his lovely memories as solace for your grief.

I cannot promise he will stay, since all from Earth return, but there are lessons taught down there I want this child to learn.

I’ve looked this wide world over in My search for teacher’s true, and from the throngs of parents I could choose, I have selected you.

Now will you give him all your love, and not think the labor vain? And not hate Me when I come to call and take him back again?”

I fancied that I heard them say, “Dear Lord, Thy will be done. For all the joy this child shall bring, the risk of grief we’ll run.

We’ll shelter him with tenderness. We’ll love him while we may. And for the happiness we’ve known, forever grateful we shall stay.

But should the angels call for him much sooner than we planned, we’ll brave the bitter grief that comes and try to understand.” - “A Child Loaned”, by Edgar Guest

I believe that God, not only gave me the gift of being Austin’s mom, but he also gave all of Austin’s friends the gift of being his friend.

Question to Ponder: "If God had told you that you would have the option of having a son (friend, etc) who would bring you joy for 21 years, but would then die and leave unbearable pain in his absence, or you could choose to not have a son (friend, etc) and spare yourself the pain, what would you choose?"

Without even hesitating I would holler – “21 years - here I come! Bring on Austin and let's go for the ride of a lifetime!!” 

"The pain of losing (Austin) is far greater than anything I have ever experienced in my life. But the joy of having loved (Austin) outweighs the pain." - A Season of Grief, by Ann Dawson (with "Austin" replacing original name)

“For a moment all the world was right,
How could I have known that you’d ever say goodbye?

And now, I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end, the way it all would go.
Our lives are better left to chance.
I could have missed the pain,
But I’d of had to miss the dance!”  - “The Dance”, by Garth Brooks

I’m gonna miss that smile
I’m gonna miss you my friend
Even though it hurts the way it ended up
I’d do it all again…
- The Wayman’s Song (Miss That Smile), by Toby Keith

Some of you, Austin’s friends, have known him for years and others just met him recently. But without a doubt, he made a huge impact on your lives. You are more blessed to have known him and befriended him. If you had known, when you had first met him, that he would only be in your life for a short time, would you have invested in that friendship? And if you hadn’t, think of what you would have missed!

Life is a highway…I want to ride it…all night long…

Aren’t you glad you were along for the ride of Austin’s life – for his adventures – to experience his love? I am!

(NOTE: The next blog will tackle the question “What if…” Hmmm…)

Monday, September 27, 2010

NO ONE KNOWS...

“No one knows why I’m traveling.” “No one knows that I am on my way to see my son who died this morning, to make arrangements for his funeral and burial.” “No one knows why I’m shopping. That it's for clothes to bury my son in.” These are the thoughts that ran through my mind as I walked through public places both on the day Austin died and throughout the following days.This is not something you blurt out to others, to those waiting on you or holding the door for you. 
On the day of Austin’s accident, as I was traveling from Massachusetts to New York, I had to stop a couple times at the rest areas (too much coffee). As I entered the rest area I thought, “No one has any idea... They do not realize that I am on my way to bury my son that was just killed in a motorcycle accident.” I have no idea how I looked to others. I have no idea how my tone of voice was or my body language or posture. I was just going through the motions, feeling like I was in a dream.
Once we got to NY, I had many errands to run and things to take care of. Since we were having an open casket I needed a long-sleeve shirt to cover Austin's scraped up arms. I already had a short sleeve button-up shirt, one of my favorites, for him to wear, but still had to find long sleeves to be worn under it. Like all of my boys, Austin did not own a long sleeve tee.  I invited my best friend to join me on this hunt and off we went. One problem, it was the end of June and stores were stocked with short sleeve summer shirts, not long sleeve ones. We visited a couple different stores, asking the assistants, “Do you have any men’s long-sleeve t’s, size medium?” They were all extremely helpful, having no idea why we needed this shirt. Thankfully, no one asked.

Three weeks after Austin’s accident I went to Target to pick-up last minute supplies for my 12 year-old son's week at camp. (This was the first time I had been in Target since Austin's funeral.) I stopped by the toiletry section, picked up the few things I needed from there, continued past the cleaning section that had laundry detergent and house cleaning supplies, then slowly walked by the home decorating section, looking at the framed pictures, candles, and other home accessories. All of a sudden I started to panic, my chest got a little tight, tears started coming to my eyes and all I could think was, “I need to get out of this store! But I can’t leave because I have to get more things for my middle son. He’s leaving tomorrow so I have no choice. OK, just breathe, deep breaths, walk on to the next aisles. I can do this. Stay focused, get what I need, and get out. Man, people must think I’m weird…”
What caused this panic feeling that came on with no warning? I figured it out immediately. That’s why I knew I just needed to move on through the home decorating aisles and not go back to any of the areas I had just been in or passed. A few weeks prior to his accident Austin had moved into a new apartment. I had planned on surprising him and had started putting together a house-warming package with goodies that 21-year old males would not realize they needed when they first moved into a place of their own. Items such as toilet paper, paper towel, tissues, cleaning supplies (even if he wouldn’t use those as often as I would), dish soap, dish cloths and towels, bath towels and wash cloths, soap, tooth paste, razors, deodorant…you get the idea. I was also planning on taking him shopping the next time I was in NY to buy him other "apartment things" he needed or wanted: pictures for the walls, dishes, pots & pans.... As I walked by all these areas in Target, for just a moment, I thought, “Oh, Austin would like this…” and then it hit me, “I never got to finish that package. I never got to send it to Austin. He never got to enjoy it… and never will.” That’s where the panic came from. That's why I must have been a sight to anyone walking by.
Mother riding on a city bus
Kids are yelling kicking up a fuss
Everybody’s staring not knowing what she’s going through
Somebody said “don’t you even care?
Do you let ‘em do that everywhere?”
She slowly turned around, looked up and stared
She said “Please forgive them
But they’ve been up all night
Their father struggled but he finally lost his fight
He went to heaven
In the middle of the night
So please forgive my children”

(They don’t understand)
Everybody’s busy with their own situation
Everybody’s lost in their own little world
Bottled up, hurry it up trying to make a dream come true
(They don’t understand)
Everybody’s living like there ain’t no tomorrow
Maybe we should stop and take a little time
Cause you never really know what your neighbor’s going through
(They don’t understand)
- Lyrics from “They Don’t Understand”, by Sawyer Brown

Ever since Austin’s accident I have looked at people I meet or pass through a different set of eyes, often wondering, “Are they struggling with something that none of us have any idea about?" Maybe they've lost someone close to them; maybe their husband or wife just left them; perhaps one of their kids is having problems or their parent, child, spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend or best friend is very sick. The stories that have been shared, from people I have known for quite a while or for a short time, have amazed me. I never would have guessed that they were struggling or had endured a sadness or tragedy in the past. After all, they look good and act normal.
When I was at this past Saturday’s youth football game I had no interaction with the other team's players or spectators. But as I walked across the fields, looking at the different people, I wondered, “How many are, right now, grieving for the 17-year old boy that was killed just the day before?" Although the family was able to mourn at home, how many others (friends and classmates and parents of friends) had to continue their day, with a heaviness and sadness in their hearts? Most of us would never know by just looking at them or speaking with them.
“…help me to never judge another until I have walked two miles in his moccasins.” Author unknown
How many times do I talk to someone who is suffering and have no idea they're going through such pain? How many times do I comment on how I met someone who was rather grumpy, only to find out later that they were dealing with some type of issue? Sometimes I may never be priviledged to that information… but they're still suffering all the same. Would I treat them differently? Would my words be kinder and more sensitive? Would I see them in a different light?
“Instead of putting others in their place, try putting yourself in their place.”Author unknown

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Hearing Words Differently

In a half hour I will be heading to my 12 year old son's away football game. It is a beautiful, sunny, hot September day. Yesterday was the same, except for one family and their friends in this neighboring community. Yesterday,  September 24, 2010 at 7:30am (3 months to the day and time of Austin's accident) their world was turned upside down. Their 17 year old son was killed as he rode his motorcycle to school. So today, while we're watching and enjoying an exciting game, there are many around us experiencing life much differently. There is no cheering, no sunshine for them; it is behind a huge, suffocating cloud of grief.

When I heard the news on the radio my heart sank, knowing the pain they were going through and what the next days and months would bring. Knowing that words spoken, whether by strangers, acquaintances, classmates, or friends, could be either uplifting or cruel and painful. Today, I am much more aware of how "innocent" comments and personal opinions can cause unintential pain to those around me, pain to people I don't know but that are hurting and grieving.

If you don't have something nice to say, don't say it. - Motherly advice

Today, as you're going through your day, listen to the words you and others say. Do you hear them differently?

Tomorrow or the next day, I will write on what I heard and how I felt, all from a perspective that I would not have, had it not been for a beautiful, sunny, hot June 24th day, when my life was turned upside down.

Words once spoken can never be recalled. Wentworth Dillon

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

SENDING HUGS & LOVE

“Don’t be surprised if you grieve more a friend than you did for a recently deceased relative. The old saying, ‘You pick your friends, relatives are thrust upon you,’ holds true here. Friends are special people in our eyes because we hold them to be. Friends fill time in our lives that will be vacant when they die.” – Helen Fitzgerald

To All of Austin’s Friends,
I hope you can feel this big, huge hug that I am giving all of you and know that, if I could, I would take away your pain and sadness. I think of you every day, hoping you are doing ok and able to grieve the way you need to, hoping you know how important you are to me, and hoping you know that the love and friendship you gave to Austin was such a special gift to him.
I laid awake last night with thoughts running through my mind. The one that was the strongest was “Love and hugs for Austin’s friends.” All of you have been on my heart this past week (and every week since June). It has been almost three months since we all lost Austin and this is when people think, you should just move on. But for those closest to Austin (and that is you, his closest and dearest friends) it is not that easy. Please know you are not alone.
When I came downstairs this morning, there on my kitchen counter was a package I had been waiting for. It was the book, Grieving the Death of a Friend, by Harold Ivan Smith. I immediately started reading it. The bits I have read are so very true and reinforce how important you, Austin’s friends, are.
“…In too many cases the death (of a friend) was unexpected. The friends themselves couldn’t believe that they left the party without saying good-bye. Their dying has left an ugly slash along the corridors of my heart…. I write as a ‘friend-griever’ whose heart aches when I hear Bette Midler sing ‘Wind Beneath My Wings,’ the theme song from the movie Beaches. ‘Did you ever know that you’re my hero?’
So what happens when a close friend dies? Clearly the more valued the friendship, the more likely that death precipitated a crisis for you, the surviving friend. To whom did you, the friend-griever turn? Was your particular grief recognized, discounted, challenged, or ignored?
Never forget: Your grief for your friend counts!”
As I read a poem, in Smith’s book, about someone grieving a friend killed suddenly in an accident it I felt as though one of Austin’s friends could have written it. I made a couple minor changes and share it below. (I removed a specific reference to this person’s accident and replaced Austin’s name for the original name referenced in the poem.)
Seemingly everyone else,
everyone in our social circle,
has gotten over his death,
and have gone back to business as usual
while I am bogged down
in thick mud-like grief.

It’s just too easy, having done
the etiquettely correct funeral things
to pretend that I am not diminished
by Austin’s death.

I am devastated!
All the platitudes we offered each other
during the initial days of shocked loss
have failed to lastingly comfort.
I sit in my living room
and stare into the darkness
looking for some sliver of meaning in his death.
One minute Austin was here
Two hours later, dead…

I don’t want Austin absent from my life
even if the pious are accurate
and he is, by their cliché,
“in a better world.”
‘Cause my world turned gray
and has remained gray
 by his absence.

At first, it was like he was only vacationing
and I expected him to walk through
my back door, any day, announcing,
“I’m back. And I brought you something!”
At first my husband was supportive.
he held me while I sobbed
and snarled out my demands
for some sense to all of it.
But he told me the other night:
“You’ve got to get on with your life…
our life.”
And then he rolled over, away from me,
and left me to wander the dark alone.

I don’t want Austin absent from my life!
I still need him.
He was my cheerleader.
Life will never be the same without Austin.

(One quick moment) tore my friend from me.
Want to know what I’m wondering
At four a.m.?
If these friends of ours,
If they could forget Austin so quickly,
won’t they forget me if…?
I know the answer to that and it’s not at all
comforting in the four a.m. darkness.

Please know, you are not forgotten! You are in my thoughts and prayers every day, just as Austin is with me every day. I grieve alongside you. You are not alone!

So many times when a new sibling arrives on the scene, the other siblings may be afraid they won’t be loved as much anymore, that their brother or sister will take some of their parents’ love away.  When someone makes a new friend, the old friend may be concerned that they will be forgotten or not loved as much. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There is always more room to love!

I have always told my boys that the neatest thing about our hearts and love is that there is always room for more. Our hearts will continue tostretch and stretch and get fuller and fuller with all the love we have for others. I believe this with all my heart and saw it in Austin. The more people he met the bigger his heart got and the more his love shone through. All you had to do was meet him once and know he was full of love! (Among other things. J OK, I couldn’t resist that – I love you Austin!!!)

Even when someone we have loved is no longer with us they will continue to reside in our heart… we will always love them. No one can ever replace them, but, the loss can bring us more friends to enlarge and fill other parts of our hearts, to fill us with more love and to walk with us through this time we never imagined having to endure.

I thank Austin for the love he left me, for the huge part of my heart that he filled, and for the people he brought into my life to make my heart even larger and fuller. I thank Austin for you!

And as much as I’ve been given, I could never give enough
Don’t worry, it’s only love…
We’re gonna make it together, walking hand in hand
Falling down on our knees, that’s where we make our stand
You can never give it all away, you can never get enough
Don’t worry… It’s only love, only love.
When you’re lonely, cold and empty
There’s only one thing to fill you up.
Only love…
(Lyrics by Danny Gokey, “It’s Only”)

Hugging and loving you!

Lori

Friday, September 17, 2010

Blah!

"Silence is the strength of our interior life... If we fill our lives with silence, then we will live in hope." Thomas Merton

My house is silent, with just the sound of the clock ticking in the background and the computer humming and keyboard clicking as I type this blog. Other than that it is quiet. Usually at this point of quietness my mind starts going into overdrive, but not today. Today, I just sit here, enjoying the "blahness".

My mind is blank. When I try to think of something to say or write, all my mind gives me is a big black "nothing". It's just "blah"!

It's been a long time since I have had this "blah" feeling. I'm not feeling sad. But neither am I "happy". I am just here. I welcome this stillness, knowing it will not last for very long.

"So in our healing from the wounds of grief, a generous amount of silence will help us rest into the depths of our own souls, and find peace.... I will not be afraid to be still. I will savor the refreshments of silence..." - Martha Whitmore Hickman, Healing After Loss

Times up! The silence was just broken with the ring of a telemarketer - but that's ok. I did not answer it. I feel a little refreshed and am ready to get into the afternoon. It are these moments of quietness, however brief, that I feel a peace in the silence. It lets me know that I'm ok...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

WHO OPENED THE DAM?

Don't be mad, if I cry. It just hurts so bad, sometimes.'Cause everyday it's sinking in. And I have to say goodbye all over again.- Lyrics from Save a Place for Me, by Matthew West
“Of all the expressions of human emotion… weeping may be the most functional, the most deeply versatile. The tears we weep show us our deepest, neediest, most private selves. Our tears expose us. They lay us bare both to others and to ourselves. What we cry about is what we care about.”  - There Is a Season, by Joan Chittister
Tears are very interesting. When I was young I would cry at the important things: at certain movies (Rudolph, the Red-Nose Reindeer, Lassie, The Black Stallion – funny thing, I’m not even a huge animal lover), when a boyfriend would break-up with me, or when I couldn’t get my way. Okay, I thought they were important at the time.Other than that, I rarely cried.
Then, I had kids… and sometime during child birth a tear faucet was turned on. Most movies would cause a tear to fall. A song would come on the radio and tears would fall. I would hear something on the news and tears would fall. I never gave it much thought – just figured they were tears.
Then Austin died…. I never knew my body could produce and hold so many tears! The dam just opened up!
NAME THAT TEAR:
The interesting thing about these new-found tears is that they are different, day-to-day and moment-to-moment. I figured, since there are so many types of tears, they should have names. Here are a few:
The Sneaky Tears: These tears are quiet. I don’t even know they’re there until I feel them sliding down my cheek. They may show up when I have a thought that's a little sad, but nothing heart-wrenching. Or they appear when I hear a song and am humming along. Sometimes they slide out when I'm thinking of Austin. Usually, I'm feeling rather mellow when they sneak out.
The Large Rain Drop Tears: These tears aren’t quite like the Sneaky Tears. They do come a little unexpected, but they are HUGE! I never knew tears could be so big. They appear when I’m writing someone a letter or email, and usually thinking of Austin. They appear while I’m sitting in church listening to a song or the message. When these tears fall they “plop” as they hit my cheek, shirt, or paper I'm writing on! Sometimes they mix in with the sneaky tears. And they stop just as quickly as they came. I actually find these very interesting.
The Sorrow Tears: These tears just flow. They come when I am sad about or missing Austin. I know they’re coming and I just let them flow. They are usually fairly quick and when they are gone I feel better, as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I am usually more mellow and calm. They are cleansing and healing.
“Oh-Man” Tears: These tears have some sadness to them. They make their presence known when I’m talking about Austin with a friend or someone tells me they are sorry about my son. They show up when I am making a phone call about Austin’s affairs and have to explain that I am calling about my son, who passed-away a couple months ago. When they arrive I think, “Oh man, not again… I thought I left you at home!” These tears can sometimes be stopped by taking a few deep breaths and talking with a slightly tightened voice, which stops the tears and holds them in, allowing me to make it through the conversation, and then change topic before they slip out again. Other times they’re a little stronger than me and escape out. But as soon as I change the subject they’re gone.
The Gut-Wrenching Tears: These tears are the hurting tears. They come when my heart is breaking and I am missing Austin more than words can say. They are the ones that feel like a dam has been opened and the tears just flow and flow. When they are over, I am exhausted.
The tears named above are the most recognizable ones. I’m sure there are others I just haven’t met yet. But at this point, these are all I need. And now that I’m on a first-name basis I know how to handle them and what to expect from them.  
Over the past 12 weeks. I have become very comfortable with my tears. I don’t always know when they will show up, but I know they will. It’s funny, to watch people, especially strangers or mere acquaintances, become very uncomfortable with my tears. I simply laugh and tell them, “This is just part of my every day life right now…”, then I change the subject and the tears usually stop. As for my friends and family, I have informed them that the only thing I guarantee is that my tears will appear, often unannounced. If they don’t like it, then they better stay away from me for quite a while, because there is nothing I can do about it. They are what they are.
Looking back through my journal entries I see there have definitely been times of tears. Here are some of them:
EXCERPTS from my Journal:
As these thoughts came through my mind I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing.
A short time later the entertainment at the Tavern (just a single performer, playing the guitar) started singing. Although the songs’ words didn’t have anything to do with Austin, just the tone and mood made the tears keep flowing. The poor waitress didn’t know what was going on. She couldn’t even look at me. It’s amazing at what will turn the spout on and start the tears flowing.
The tears keep falling. I’ll think I’m ok, then, all of a sudden a huge tear will fall from my eyes.
The memories he left us with are unlimited and make me both smile and cry at the same time.
It’s been a while since I entered anything, yet much has been going on. The last entry I was feeling much better, and then Thurs/Fri – BAM! I plummeted. On Friday I couldn’t stop crying. My heart was just breaking and I was missing Austin so very, very much. By 8pm I was thoroughly exhausted and became very short with the boys. I was in bed by 9pm (which is unusual for me) – I was so wiped out, almost achy (but wasn’t sick).
So, here I am… I know this is normal grieving and that I can’t rush it. But sometimes I just wish the sadness that is underlying everything I do would be gone. The tears just come… I know people look at me and wonder how we do it. And I don’t know how. I just have to get up every day and do. When I’m around others I am usually much better. But the second I’m alone, the tears flow and the heart aches…
TEARS ARE A GIFT:
As I look back over these past 12 weeks I can’t believe how much I have healed. And the tears have been part of that process. I still miss Austin, in ways I can’t even explain. I still shed tears, daily, but not every waking moment, at every thought, and every silent second. When the tears come and then dry I am thankful, for I can feel the healing process continuing.
Tears are part of our body’s way of healing. We should not be ashamed of them, but accept them as a gift. Your body knows what it needs, listen to it! And since, most likely, our tears are going to show-up, we might as well get to know them and name them. (Hmmm…This makes me think of all the nicknames Austin, himself, had: Dini, Smausty, Texas, Stin, Auski,Smauski, Halfstin, Austindini…)
So go ahead, accept the gift, have some fun and name that tear!
 “I used to wonder if there would ever come a day when I would stop weeping for my dead child….Gradually I came to realize that the shedding of tears was part of my healing, like a cool salve on a wound. My tears are my gift to myself, a way of physically acknowledging the love I have for my child…Tears have an almost spiritual healing power, an expression of deep love for the ones for whom we weep… The tears will dry up in their own good time, but until that time, our tears help to heal us and should be welcome in our lives and not something to dread.” – excerpt from A Season of Grief, by Ann Dawson
“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” – Washington Irving

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

This One's For You!

"One of the most difficult discoveries I made early in my 'season of grief' was that grief itself has no timetable.... 'This is my time to mourn.' With that thought, I felt a sense of liberation. I realized that I didn't have to run from the pain. I didn't have to fight or overcome it. This sorrow, this time of mourning, was a season of my life. All I needed to do was to experience it, to lean into the pain, and to let it become a part of who I was.... It's okay to be sorrowful, to mourn, to grieve... When I allowed mourning into my life, it became less frightening, not quite a friend, but no longer an alien stranger. I was able to be at peace with my sorrow." Exerpt from A Season of Grief,  by Ann Dawson

Over the past few weeks I have been trying to figure out what I can give to Austin's friends and family to help them get through this journey we are on together. Then the idea came to me of creating a blog to help everyone realize they are not alone in this. Although we are each in our own places in the grieving process, we are not alone...

It is an interesting journey...we are traveling it together, yet at times may feel so alone, since each of us must travel our own path. Many of us are experiencing the same feelings and emotions - sometimes at the same time, but often at different times. We all had different relationships with Austin. Mine was as his mother and also his friend. Our relationship and friendship was different than yours. And your friendship was different than all of his other friends. My grieving is different than yours, but yet so much the same. Quite often we find ourselves grieving and remembering many of the same things, but also many things just between each of us and Austin.

Anyone who knows me well, knows I am a huge reader. The more I can read on a subject matter, the happier I am, especially when it comes to relationships. (I also love suspense fiction). However, for the first many weeks after Austin's death I was unable to pick up a single book, on any subject. I am not sure why, but I was unable. Then a friend of mine sent me a book written by a father who lost his 25 year old son on a mountain (Lament for a Son, by Nicholas Wolterstorff ). It is a father's journal during the first year after he lost his son. Amazingly, much of what he was saying was exactly what I had journaled, spoken to others, or just thought. It was very comforting and reassured me that everything I was feeling was "normal". Here is one of his statements that hit the nail on the head:

"It is the neverness that is so painful. Never again to be here with us... All the rest of our lives we must live without him... A month, a year, five years - with that I could live. But not this forever..." Exerpt from Lament for a Son, by Nicholas Wolterstorff

A week ago I finished reading a fiction book which I had started before Austin's accident. Having that done, my next step was to head to the local bookstore and start looking for books on grieving. I wanted to see if what they were saying was accurate, since, of course, now I thought I was the expert on grief, I am experiencing it firsthand, afterall!

There were several books on the subject matter and I bought a few. Most had great information that, once again, reaffirmed I am "normal". In fact, many said almost word-for-word what I had been thinking, writing in my journal or speaking of with close friends. I wanted so much to share this information with all of my friends and Austin's friends that are walking this road of grieving with me. But, I knew I would go broke if I bought everyone a copy of the these books (and many of you probably wouldn't want to read all of them). Then I had an idea. Why not create a blog where I can share pieces of information that would help Austin's friends and family (or even others that did not know Austin, but are suffering a death of someone they loved)!

Come along for the ride... I'll share with you other's words of wisdoms, my own "challenges", things I have learned, encouraging quotes, and questions I struggle with. All I ask is that you realize that you may not be where I am or experiencing what I am at the time, and that's ok - you may have already been there, are going to go there soon, or may never go there. That's the interesting thing about grieving, there is no exact roadmap. We all make our own.

This One's For You!... Please visit the blog regularly to see that you too are "normal" in your grieving. Sometimes you may be on the same journey with me. Other times you may have taken a short cut, been detoured, or double-backed. But you're not alone...

Life's like a road that you travel on,
When there's one day here and the next day gone
Sometimes you bend, sometimes you stand,

Sometimes you turn your back to the wind
There's a world outside ev'ry darkened door,

Where blues won't haunt you anymore
Where brave are free and lovers soar,

Come ride with me to the distant shore
We won't hesitate, To break down the garden gate
There's not much time left today
Life is a highway, I wanna ride it all night long
If you're going my way, I wanna drive it all night long

From "Life is a Highway", by Rascal Flatts

Hold on - you never know when the road will get bumpy or there will be a sudden turn!!!!

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die...a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance... 
Ecclesiastes 3:1-2,4