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…)

1 comment:

  1. Your blog was shared in a child grief support group that I am in. My son, Austin, passed away in March at the age of 24. Reading this your Austin and my Austin were so much alike. The comments that your Austin's friends posted pretty much are the same comments I got from my Austin's friends. I want to say thank you for sharing this as it is helping me. Much love to you for opening up and sharing your pain!

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