Thursday, February 3, 2011

Memory Triggers

"Memory is a child walking along a seashore. You never can tell what small pebble it will pick up and store away among its treasures things." - Pierce Harris, Atlanta Journal

The mind is a funny thing. You can be thinking about one topic and the next minute your mind has brought you somewhere else. It reminds me of the children's book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, which starts off:

If you give a Mouse a cookie, he's going to ask for a glass of milk. When you give him the milk, he'll probably ask you for a straw. When he's finished, he'll ask for a napkin. Then he'll want to look in a mirror, to make sure he doesn't have a milk mustache...

The story continues, with one thing leading the mouse to think of another, and then another. Until, it brings him full circle to wanting a glass of milk and then a cookie. Sometimes, that's how I feel my mind works, especially when it comes to thinking about Austin...

For instance, today I was sorting my bills and tax information, getting ready to pay bills and pull my tax data together. Mixed in with my W-2s were Austin's. As I looked at how much he had earned between January and June, I noticed that he had made the same amount at his part-time job (January-April), as he had at his full-time job (mid-May-June). This got me thinking, "Austin had worked so hard for the past three years, going to school and working, always being tight on money. He was just starting the next phase of his life - having a full-time job, which allowed him to have his own apartment and begin to get ahead with his finances. He was so excited to be on his own. And now, he'll never enjoy what he had worked so hard for..."

Before I knew what was happening, I had "Austin on the Brain" and those darn "sneaky tears" were sneaking down my face. (See previous blog "Who Opened the Dam?") Within a matter of ten minutes, I had moved from thinking about how quickly my bank balance drops when I pay bills to how Austin was missing the next part of his life, never to experience the rewards of his hard labor. Who would have thought such an event (paying bills) would be a trigger for thinking about Austin. Which now leads me to think about "Everyday" triggers and "Sneaky" triggers:

EVERYDAY TRIGGERS: I am rarely (if ever) surprised when these types of events, sights, sounds, and smells trigger a thought of Austin - because they were simply a part of Austin: Snowy days... camp fires... homemade macaroni and cheese... fruits and vegetables... grilled chicken, burgers, hot dogs... dirt bikes and motorcyles... Subarus... Shock Top beer... hikes in the woods... Golden Retrievers or any other big dog... obnoxious customer service that would make Austin shake his head... construction workers... certain songs... These things and Austin go hand-in-hand.

SNEAKY TRIGGERS: I am taken by surprise, may even be stopped in my tracks, when these random types of events, sights, sounds, and smells trigger thoughts of Austin.  I begin at one point, completely unrelated to Austin, and before I know it I'm being led me down a path and then another, ending up with "Austin on the brain": Paying bills... a comment someone makes... a voice that sounds like Austin.... building blocks in the boys' closet... an event that causes a "flash back" to Austin... It's more difficult to think of specifics, because these triggers are so random and unpredictable. They do not directly correlate to Austin's everyday life, but they'll pop up, stir up thoughts, and then disappear just as quickly.

Sometimes these triggers, Everyday or Sneaky, are welcomed and warm the heart immediately. Other times, they are an inconvenience, an uninvited visitor causing unexpected sadness, at an unplanned time. But even then, once the surprise ends, they are welcomed and make me smile - remembering Austin.

"Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose." - from the televesion show "The Wonder Years"

What are your "Austin Triggers"? What memories help you hold onto Austin, even when he's not here with us?

Because of Austin's ability to live life to the fullest... he left me full of memories... I am so thankful for all of them... because of them, I will never lose Austin... he'll always be in my heart and memory!

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