Monday, January 24, 2011
Days, Weeks, Months, Years
How far along are you? How old is he? How long's it been?
"When someone is pregnant they say 'I'm in my 5th week, 2nd trimester or 8th month'. When a baby is born and starts growing, we say he's 8 days, 3 weeks, 5 months, 18 months, 2 years old.... When someone dies, do we end up counting the days, weeks, months, and years in the same way?"
This thought came to me, one day, while thinking about how long it had been since Austin's accident. When he first passed away, it was hours, which turned into 1 day, 5 days, then 10 days... the days turned into weeks... 2 weeks... 7 weeks... then months.... 2 months... 3 months... and now 7 months (today). I wonder at what point it will become years? Will it start after 18 months, like it did when Austin was a baby? I would state his age in days, then weeks, then months - until 18 months, at which point it became years... 2 years old... 5 years old... 13 years old... 16 years old... 18 years old... 21 years old.
It's hard to think of the months that he hasn't been with us, which started as days and weeks, will soon turn into years. Because even today, after 7 months, there are moments when my cell phone rings and I think, for just a moment, that it may be Austin...
Keep Reminding Myself...
This past week-end, my middle son went to Deep Freeze, a winter outing up in New Hampshire. All week-end I had this uneasy feeling that I was forgetting someone. We'd go to leave and I would look around for Wes, thinking "Where is he?" Then I'd remember he hadn't come with us, he was at Deep Freeze. Sometimes, I still get this feeling about Austin. We'll be making plans and I'll think "I need to let Austin know, in case he can join us." Then I remember, he can't join us... These are the moments that I have to stop and remind myself that Austin is not here.
"Don't be mad, if I cry. It just hurts so bad sometimes. 'Cause every day, it's sinking in. And I have to say goodbye all over again." - Lyrics by Matthew West, "Save a Place For Me"
Even though I know it's true, I still have trouble believing that Austin is gone, forever. At first, I thought about it often, but now it's more intermingled with my memories. Memories that pop-up out of no where. Memories that used to make me cry, but now usually make me smile. Memories that are sparked by every day events: homemade macaroni and cheese, one of mine and Austin's favorites... snow storms we've been having, how Austin would have loved doing donuts on those days... Austin's winter jackets that Weston loves to wear, when he's sledding and playing in the snow... pictures of big puppies, Austin always wanted a big dog... Weston trying to wear his pants a little low, like Austin did, so his boxer shorts show (I don't think so!)... a song I hear on the radio... and the list goes on, for all of us. I'm sure everyone has their own list they keep adding to...
I'm very thankful for my memories and the fact that they bring me comfort. But there are still times when I'm enjoying the memories that I think, "Austin will never enjoy these things again... he'll never be able to join us... " And it is then that sadness creeps back, and my heart aches. Because, as Nicholas Wolterstorff states, a month, a year, five years - that would be ok, but forever... forever is hard to swallow:
"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..." - Excerpt from Lament for a Son, but Nicholas Wolterstorff
I know I've shared both, the Matthew West lyrics and the quote from Nicholas Wolterstorff, with you in previous entries. But, I'm sharing them again, because these are two thoughts that I catch myself singing or saying quite often... Even though I didn't want to say good-bye, I had to. And I have to keep reminding myself that he is gone, forever; that I will never see Austin again (here on Earth). But, I also have to remind myself that one day I will, once again, see Austin's smile and hear his laugh.
Can Austin See Us?
My youngest son, has asked a few times, "Can Austin see us from Heaven?"
To which I've responded, "I don't know. Part of me thinks probably not, because if Austin was to see us now, he'd see our sadness and see us hurting, then he would feel pain. But, we're told that there is no pain, suffering, or sadness in Heaven. So, I'm thinking he cannot see us..."
He then says, "Mom, can you do me a favor? If you find out that Austin can't see us from Heaven, will you not tell me?"
I smile and say, "OK."
(Actually, I say, "If you want me to let you live in denial, that's ok with me. I won't tell you." Then, while chuckling, I give him a huge hug, with my heart being warmed by his sweetness and love.)
I also tell him that I think time is much different in Heaven, that days in Heaven are probably like minutes to us here on Earth and years are like days. Austin is probably loving life in Heaven and before he knows it, we'll be there with him. And although it will be years for us, it will only be days for him.
The boys told me the other day they hope I live until they are 69 and 67. When I asked how they came up with these random numbers, they said "Because we want you to live until you're 100!" If that's the case, then it will be another 56 years before I see Austin... (but I wonder if to Austin it will only seem like 2 months - I wonder).
And so, as Matthew West sings, my "message" to Austin is:
"I wanna live my life just like you did. And make the most of my life, just like you did. And I wanna make my home up in the sky, just like you did. Oh, but until I get there... Save a place for me..." (You can hear this song at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbsBUf9VKyc )
Austin, every day I'm missing you more and more. Missing those beautiful blue eyes, that charming smile and contagious laugh, and your huge hugs... but I know one day I will enjoy them again... until then, continue to Live Life to the Fullest, up there in Heaven. And, oh yeah, save a place for me!