Sunday, October 3, 2010


IF ONLY Austin hadn’t ridden his motorcycle that day
(there was a chance of rain later).
IF ONLY Austin had listened and not had a motorcycle.
IF ONLY Austin wasn’t such a risk taker / thrill seeker.
IF ONLY Austin hadn’t been going that speed.*
IF ONLY he had left 5 minutes earlier/later.
(*Side Note: None of us know what his speed was, but even at 50mph he probably wouldn’t have survived. 100 foot site-line is not enough time to stop. That’s the distance from where Austin was when he would have first seen the truck to the spot the truck was at. Which means, he had 300 ft to react and stop.)
These are statements made or thought by people since Austin’s death. Whenever I have heard them, my first thought goes to the "miracle" stories heard after 9/11. The stories about people who should have been on one of the flights, but missed them, for whatever reason. Or about people who would usually have been in the Twin Towers at that time but were late that day. These are people who were in the right place at the right time.
And on June 24, 2010 at 7:15am Austin was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Period.
There are numerous stories of motorcycle accidents where the individual survives, when there is no explanation of why or how, while other times the person dies. We always want to find reasons why bad things happen. We need to have an explanation, something or someone to blame. But, bottom line: life happens - both good and bad. It just happens - Period.
When others have said to me “If only he hadn’t loved motorcycles and been a thrill seeker.” I respond, "Then you wouldn't have had Austin!" If you start taking away who Austin was made to be then you start changing the things that made us love him so much, made us so attracted to him, wanting to have a little of what he had! It was his risk-taking and thrill-seeking that probably contributed to his loving people. He wasn’t afraid to reach out and be your friend. He was willing to take that risk.
The night of Austin's accident and death, I couldn't sleep, so I got up and wrote Austin a letter. Here it is. As you read it, think of all who Austin was. All he was made to be.

My heart is breaking so much right now. I miss you and wish I could give you one more hug. I love you so very, very much. All I can think of is the joy you have brought me over the past 21 years.
You had such a love for life – embracing it to the fullest. Everyone who met you was blessed by your great personality, sense of humor, and amazing smile. Every time I was with you, you made me laugh – even if I was mad at you. And you couldn’t stay made either. I remember riding in the car with you, when you were a teen-ager and you being mad at me about something. I would look at you and make silly comments or faces. Within a few minutes you would say, “Stop, I’m trying to be mad.” And then you would break out into a smile and we would laugh.
You have had your need to tinker since you could walk. At 2 years old the sitter needed to remove batteries from all the toys and place them on the fireplace mantel, because otherwise you would be removing them yourself and leaving them around – which was dangerous for the babies. Today, you just tinkered on bigger toys.
I also had to hide the screwdrivers, because otherwise you would take the screws out of the covers over the outlets – which were there to protect you.
At age 5, you already know how to negotiate. One day you asked me, while I was fixing dinner, if I could play a game. I explained that I couldn’t because I was fixing dinner. The next thing I knew, you were at the kitchen table asking, “Do you want to play Candy Land or Sorry?” Again, I explained that I couldn’t. Being unable to hear the word “no”, you asked a few minutes later, “Mom, do you want to be red or green?” Again, I explained I couldn’t play. A few minutes later you asked, “Mom, do you want to go 1st or do you want me to?” Hmmm, you never took “no” easily.
When you were grounded for TV, for example, you simply responded, “OK, I didn’t feel like watching TV anyway. I’m going to build with my legos.” And off you’d go to enjoy the day!
You have also always had a way to get others to do things for you… When you had to clean your very messy room, one time, I said, “You have to clean your room and anything left around will be thrown away.” A couple hours later you emerged from your room, stating, “I’m finished cleaning my room. Anything I left on the floor, you can go ahead and throw out.” (That’s not exactly what I had meant.)
You were always such a cuddler.  Even as an adult you would come to see us, jump in my lap and “curl up”, all 6’2” of you and state, “Let’s cuddle! We haven’t cuddled in a long time.” Or, when you’d driven part way through the night to visit us in MA, you’d come in our room in the morning, jump on the bed and give Dad and me a huge hug.
You had the greatest hugs – which I will truly miss. I looked forward to your daily calls, just to say “Hi” and see what was going on. You always ended with “I love you…,” no matter who was around.
You had an amazing heart. Always caring for others. In fact, when you were 3 or 4 I read “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” to you. When the Grinch stole the presents you started to cry. Even when we got to the end and the Grinch had returned the presents you were still upset because the Grinch had been so mean.
You loved people for who they were and loved to be around people. Quite often on Sundays, you’d come to me after church announcing who you’d invited over for the afternoon (entire families). I had to make sure I always had food in the house on Sundays! Now, as an adult, you would come visit and right away ask who was coming over. So I would have to call one of your father and my friends and state, “Austin wants you to come over and play…” What 21 year old kid wants to hang out with their 40+ year old parents? You did. You didn’t care how old someone was or who they were, you just love people! And who would invite their 40+ year old parents over to their friend’s house for a Memorial Day party? You would and your father and I are so blessed to have met some more of your friends this past Memorial Day and to have you shared this part of your life!
I am proud to have been blessed with you as my son. I will miss you so much, but you will always be in my heart and memories.
 I love you! … Mom
It was Austin's unique way of looking at life, of letting things role off his shoulders when need be, of embracing the life he had, that made him who he was.

The other day I heard Danny Gokey’s song “Like That’s a Bad Thing” and I immediately thought of Austin. Here are the lyrics:
They say I drive a little fast
Say, I like to push the limit
Everyday I'm living like it was my last
They say I'm proud of my scars

Each one's got a story
Got guts and glory down to an art
Say, I know what it's like
To see life flash before my eyes
Like that's a bad thing

I don't know about you
But I was put here to live and love
So what if I don't do it
Like everybody else does

They say I'm out on the edge
I'm too willing to risk
Every bone, every breath
They say all I am is a crazy dream
Like that's a bad thing

So my heart's been broke
So I keep on falling
It's nothing but all in when I let go
I wear it on my sleeve
They call me a fool 'cause I still believe
Like that's a bad thing

I don't know about you
But I was put here to live and love
So what if I don't do it
Like everybody else does...

Like that's a bad thing!

The next time you start thinking the negative “what if’s” ask yourself…
·         What if Austin…wasn’t so darn cute and personable?
·         What if Austin…hadn’t had such a great sense of humor?
·         What if Austin…didn’t have those beautiful blue eyes and mischievous smile?
·         What if Austin…didn’t love adventure?
·         What if Austin…didn’t have such a generous heart?
·         What if Austin…wasn’t such a good friend?
·         What if Austin…hadn’t loved people so much?
·         What if Austin…didn’t have such a love for live?
If Austin wasn’t all of the"what if's" above, then you wouldn’t feel such a loss right now. You wouldn’t have this void in your life today. And if he hadn’t been all these things, he wouldn’t have brought such love and joy to everyone he touched, including us. And, we wouldn’t be blessed to have known Austin. Austin was a package deal - full of life, love, and adventure. It is what made us love him so much. I wouldn’t have changed Austin for the world!
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”Psalm 139:14
AUSTIN WAS FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE. I hope when you think of Austin you remember him for his Love of Life, Adventure, and Generous Spirit – that is how he was made!!

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