Monday, February 28, 2011

Bitter Sweet

Ever since Austin passed away, it has been bitter-sweet when I visit my hometown. This past week, during the boys' February break, was no different. It's hard to explain how I feel when I'm there. I'm in constant motion, trying to take it all in, connect with as many friends and family as possible, and do the things I never slowed down long enough to do when I lived there. I always look forward to my visits, as there are so many wonderful things I now notice and appreciate, things that I didn't take time to appreciate while living there - the view of the lake... wine tours and Riesling Festival this summer... snow boarding this winter... Wegman's (even though I always enjoyed it, I enjoy it even more)... the open fields... spending time with my family and friends. And all the while I'm enjoying these new experiences, I have "Austin thoughts" popping up...

"Austin would have loved this... I wish Austin could see this... I remember when Austin did... " And so, my time in beautiful Upstate NY is now bitter-sweet...

BITTER, because I never feel there is enough time to see everyone and do everything I would like to. As I'm preparing for my trip, I always think I'm going to have so much time during the week, but the days end up flying by, and before I know it it's time to return back home, back to reality.

SWEET, because the hours are packed full of enjoyable times with so many friends and family. Time that is short, but cherished.

BITTER, because Austin fills my thoughts even more, as everything around reminds me of him and I feel he should be by our side, enjoying the moments with us. As we learned how to snowboard, during this last visit, Austin should have been there laughing at me and excited at how quickly his brothers picked up the sport. When I went out to Eddie O'Brien's the week-end prior to hear a friend (and his brother) play, Austin should have been there, chatting and laughing with all of us.

SWEET, because we are so busy visiting that I don't have a moment to remind my heart how much I miss him. I enjoy the memories and thoughts and time of reminiscing; I enjoy the opportunity to make new memories. I am kept so busy, entertaining the boys, that my thoughts of Austin are intermingled with conversations remembering him and all the things he used to do.

As I return to Massachusetts, the bitter-sweet feelings continue...

BITTER, because as I drive home, I know it will be a while before I have the opportunity to visit everyone again and I will miss everyone I just caught up with (and those I missed). As I leave my hometown, I feel like I'm leaving Austin all over again - even though he wasn't physically there, the memories are still so strong. And reality hits again, reality that he is gone.

SWEET, because it's always good to be back, in my own house and with the friends I do day-to-day life with. It feels good to get back to a schedule and routine (if that's what you call it).

BITTER, because, during the first few days back, the quiet moments are more intense and the thoughts of Austin become even stronger and I ache to see him again.

SWEET, because after the strong aching and cleansing tears, I can feel myself moving forward (although I don't know where forward is taking me), and the healing continue.

Each visit I am reminded, all over again, that life is bitter-sweet...

BITTER - because the bumps, hills and mountains, that come with life, are not always what I had planned, sometimes out of my control, and definately unwelcomed!

SWEET - because, even through tragedy, I continue to experience goodness and happiness. And I know, that even with heartache, life will continue, and life will be good - very good. Most importantly, through tragedy, my eyes are opened to, and I'm reminded of, what's truly important - my family and friends.

"We must live through the dreary winter if we would value spring; and the woods must be cold and silent, before the robins sing. The flowers must be buried in darkness, before they can bud and bloom. And the sweetest, warmest sunshine comes after the storm and gloom." - Anonymous

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