Thursday, November 18, 2010

I'm Doing Well

I'm doing well... I smile, to myself, every time I say those three words to someone. Why? Because I wonder if people saw me all day long would they think, "Is she really doing well?" And the funny thing is, despite the tears that still come daily and the missing of Austin, I really am doing very well.

How do I know this? I simply look back at the progress I have made over the past four plus months and know - I'm doing well. I look at this week and can honestly say, "Yep, I'm doing well, because this week..."

... I drove Austin's car with a smile. A month ago, every time I drove Austin's car tears would stream down my face, as I thought about how much he loved his car. I would reminisce about the day I went with him to check the car out. It was a beautiful, sunny fall day. Austin took the car for a test drive and I could tell immediately that he wanted it. It was exactly what he had been looking for - a Subaru Impreza. He did a little wheeling and dealing with the owner - who kept commenting on how excited she was that Austin was buying the car. She hated parting with it, but was so pleased that he was the one purchasing it. Although she had just met Austin, she could tell he would love it the way she did. If only she knew it would see a little "mudding" once it was in his hands.

Austin had to head back to New York early the next day, so I made arrangements for me to pick it up later that week. It had been a while since I had driven standard and as I hopped in the front seat and put it in gear, I realized I was on a hill (heading uphill with a car directly behind me). It must have been an interesting sight as I peeled out of the parking spot, obviously not use to driving a standard and praying that I wouldn't roll backwards and hit the two lovebirds standing outside the car behind me. Good thing Austin was back in NY, otherwise he would have had fun busting on my smooth driving skills. Later that evening I called him to let him know I had the car and had broken in the clutch for him - I could hear his smile. This week, as I drove the car, I smiled, remembering how much he loved the car and how happy he was the day it became his. (I also smiled when I looked down at the speedometer to see I was going 50mph in a 35mph zone - oops! I quickly slowed down.) - I am making progress...

... I didn't cry as I shared with someone that I had three sons, but one was no longer with us.  I think this is the first time that I have been able to do it without getting a catch in the throat or having tears fall. Soon after Austin died, I remember thinking, "What an awkward situation it is going to be when I meet someone and they ask how many children I have. How do I answer that?" Almost immediately, I knew my answer would always be, "I have 3 sons." If they then proceeded to ask their ages, I would share with them the ages of my younger 2 boys, and then also that my oldest son had passed away. I know it may make some people uncomfortable, but I could never not include Austin.

The fact that Austin is my son will never change. The only difference is that he is now in heaven rather than here with me. When people ask how many grandparents I have, I always respond that I have one grandfather who is still living, and my other 3 grandparents have passed away. Why would it be any different with my own children? Sometimes I will say this easily, other times I'll choke up. Today I did it calmly - I am making progress...

... I painted Austin's room and walked away refreshed. This past spring Austin and I had picked out paint for "his" room. We bought two gallons and then decided we should paint a test swatch on the wall, to see how it would look. Because it was going over a very light pink wall the swatch looked a little off. We looked at each other and said, "Hmmm... looks a little like a baby's messy diaper color... Guess we should have done a test swatch before buying two gallons - oh well, hopefully it will look better once the pink isn't showing through and all the walls are done." My goal was then to get the room painted before Austin visited us this summer... obviously, that never happened - Austin never made it back to Massachusetts.

I have always loved painting and find it very relaxing. It's a great time of listening to music, while thinking of and reflecting on life. At least it was, until Austin's accident. After he died, the very thought of painting made me uneasy, giving me a panicky feeling. Thoughts would come to mind, such as, "There's no way I can deal with that much quiet time, with only my music and thoughts, especially when I'm painting Austin's room. This was supposed to be a happy time, getting ready to surprise him on his next visit. Now it's one of those 'would have been' moments. I just don't know if I can do it. Not now. Some day, but not now."

Well, this week, that 'some day' came, with a little encouragement from my husband. It took me two hours to paint one wall, mostly because I am so particular with the edging. As the music played in the background, my mind wandered to thoughts of Austin. Of course, it was encouraged by the many songs that were either ones Austin liked or ones that reminded me of him. Tears came. Tears dried. The quietness that I had thought would be too much was actually just what I needed - a time to reflect and remember. A time to say "good-bye" a little bit more.

Wednesday, I painted two more walls. This time I did not have the music playing, but rather listened to a radio talk show. I would smile as I listened to the topics, which were ones I knew Austin would get riled up over and definitely have an opinion or comment on. Not one tear came while I was painting. My mind was elsewhere, being distracted by the topics of conversation on the radio, and when I thought of Austin it was with a peace - and it was good.

Of course, after I finished those two walls and looked at the room, I did cry. I cried because it wasn't the baby poop color the small sample spot had looked like - it was exactly the color Austin had hoped it would be. I could just hear him commenting on how nice it looked. I am sorry he couldn't have been here with me, to enjoy and admire it.

Today, I painted the final wall. I can't wait to put the pictures up and make it complete. I had been dreading the painting - had been procrastinating because I was afraid of the emotions it might stir up. I didn't know if I could get through it - but I did. And in the process I healed a little more - I am making progress ...

... I am starting to come alive again. I have always loved rearranging rooms, painting them new colors, moving furniture, changing the pictures on the walls, and decorating (just a little) for the different seasons. I love flowers and plants and get a warm, peaceful feeling as I take in their beauty. Well, I did, until Austin's accident. After his death, I couldn't stand the thought of decorating a room or fixing up my garden. At times I even felt as though I was betraying Austin if I allowed small things to gave me joy and pleasure, thinking,  "I would trade all of that in if I could get Austin back."

I know I can't get Austin back and it's silly thinking that I shouldn't feel joy - Austin would not want me, or any of his familly and friends, to stop living and enjoying life. I also know, that slowly, as I heal, I will start to enjoy the little things in life again. Today, after painting, as I was putting things back in order in Austin's room, and as I switched a couple pictures around in other parts of the house (one of them of Austin on his dirt bike), I found myself smiling and enjoying the beauty again - I am making progress...

... The chest tightening is subsiding. Today, as I thought about the fact that Austin will never be with us again, tears spilled from my eyes. But, I didn't feeling a vice-grip tightening in the middle of my upper chest that usually accompanies those thoughts.  There was still a lump in the throat, but the chest was relaxed. Yet, another sign of a new season on its way, that I am healing - I am making progress...

But what is healing? I think it's being able to enjoy life, even while missing Austin. I am starting to get a glimpse of this. It will come and go - wave by wave (see earlier blog) - but it's refreshing to feel a lightening of my spirit... So how am I doing?

I am doing well...


  1. You are doing well and we are all encouraged by your spirt.

  2. I am still praying for you and your family. I understand what you wrote about answering that you have three sons. When I was in HS, my older brother passed away. I always have told people that I have 2 has never changed either for me.

  3. It's funny the things that would never cross our minds until we experience it ourselves...thank you Priscilla for sharing this part of you...

  4. Lori...It makes me smile to hear that you painted Austin's room. I always thought you were a little strange because you liked to paint so much.....but I know that you have found it very rewarding in the past and it brings me joy to know that you got through it & were able to enjoy it.

    We will miss you for Thanksgiving, but know that the Smith Family will be thinking of the Narewski's and how thankful we are to have you as friends....and, of course, how thankful we are to have known Austin. Love you Lots! Trisha