Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dreaming "Austin" Dreams...

Dreams. Where do they come from? What do they mean? Are they our minds way of processing events, making heads or tails out of them? Does every dream have meaning, just a little, or none at all? I don't know.

What I do know, is that some dreams seem so real, it's actually a little crazy.

Some people swear they never dream. This is because they never remember their dreams, even immediately after waking. However, studies show we all dream, we just don't always remember. Why?... I don't know.

What I do know is that I, myself, wake up at least once a night remembering my dreams, even if it's for a fleeting moment or just bits and pieces. Sometimes my dreams are bizarre and all mixed up; I know there is no way they are real. Other times it feels as though the event took place, right then and there. It is the latter that can be unsettling, that can follow me through the day, week or month. I have, more than once, had a dream where my husband did something that really ticked me off. I wake up mad at him and find myself still mad, throughout the day, for something he really didn't even do. The poor guy, he just can't get a break, even when he's sleeping.

After Austin died, friends would tell me about dreams they had, in which Austin had a conversation with them. For the first few months, any time I dreamt about Austin, he had already died, we were simply dealing with losing him. Then, one night my dream was different. It included Austin, alive. I don't remember the specifics, I just remember him laughing. It was the laugh I was so familiar with; one so full of life. A fun chuckle, followed with an "Oh yeah. And remember when..." In life, he was always reminiscing stories and events with friends and family, always including his light-hearted laugh. That night I woke with a smile and an "Oh Austin, how I miss that laugh!" thought. When I think of that dream, the only thing I remember is the laugh, and I can still hear it.

After the "laughing" dream, I didn't have another "Austin" dream for quite some time. Then, a couple months ago, I had a different dream; one I've carried in my mind and heart. This one seemed very real, as though it actually happened. I only remember a snippet, but that snippet brings me both comfort and tears, all at the same time.

In this dream, I am driving in my car, with Austin riding in the passenger seat. He's crying a little and says "Mom, I am so sorry..." I reply, "I know you are, Bud. I know you are. Oh, I love you." And I pull him to me and kiss his head. Then, I wake up. And it felt like I had just spent a little time with him. As if I had a little closure.

Later, as I'm thinking about this dream, it feels as though it could be the closure to a text conversation Austin and I had a few weeks before his accident. He said to me, "Mom, I know you worry about me because you're my mom and it's your job. But you know, you really don't need to."

Ever since Austin's accident my mind keeps answering that text, "Yeah Austin, I did need to worry. It was my job. I miss you...." And in this dream, it's as though Austin's answering my thoughts... "I'm sorry, Mom." That's how Austin was. He wasn't afraid to say, "I'm sorry." or "I love you."

And it was my chance to tell him, "I love you," one last time.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Wheels Keep Turning

The wheels in my mind go round and round, round and round, round and round. The wheels in my mind go round and round, all through the town...

A funny thought came to me the other day, as I was driving around town. Every time I climb in the car, turn the engine on and start driving, the wheels on my car start turning - round and round, round and round. And when I'm by myself, the wheels in my mind immediately begin to go round and round, round and round, all at the same time.

The topic turning in my mind is always the same... Austin. It's as though I'm driving on "Austin Lane" Everything I see, every song I hear, every thought I have always detours my mind to Austin. "Remember when Austin did this... Remember when Austin did that... Austin would just love this!... I can just hear Austin now... I wonder what Austin would be doing right now... and on and on and on my thoughts travel."

When I arrive at my destination, park the car and turn off the ignition, my mind simultaneously turns off the 'Austin thoughts', bringing me back to the day's events.

It's always nice to take a detour from the day with Austin. After all, "Life is a Highway!" and sometimes you just need to travel the "Austin Lane".

Friday, May 6, 2011

God's Answer to Prayers

Warning: This blog may cause controversy and raise emotions... you may agree or you may disagree... that's ok, these are simply my thoughts...

"My mother's cancer is gone. God answered our prayers.".... "My husband is going to be ok from the accident. God answered my prayers."... "I didn't lose my job during the last round of layoffs. God is good - He answered my prayers."... "My niece was very, very sick and the doctors didn't think she was going to make it, but she pulled through. God answered our prayers. God is good."

I could go on and on with comments I hear on a regular basis that make me cringe. Sometimes I even taste a little blood, from biting my tongue so hard. What I want to say in response to these comments is, "What if your mother's cancer killed her? Would you still say God answered your prayers?"... "What if your husband isn't going to be ok from the accident? What if he will never walk again? Would you still say God answered your prayers?"... "What if you were laid off, can't find a job, and can't pay your mortgage. Would you still say 'God is good. He answered my prayers.'"... "What if your niece hadn't made it? What if she had died? Would you still say God answered your prayers? Would you still say 'God is good?'"

Have you ever heard someone say, when the doctor announces the cancer is incurable, "God answered our prayers."?... Have you ever heard someone say, when their house is foreclosed on, "God is good, He answered our prayers.'?... Have you ever had someone say to you, when their son is killed in an accident, "God answered our prayers."?

Just my thoughts.

You see. I have always prayed for my children. I pray for their safety. I pray that they get through difficult situations. I pray for their health.... On the morning of Austin's accident I prayed that he would be ok. My husband prayed he'd be ok. Friends and family prayed he'd be ok." But he died. Does that mean God didn't answer our prayers? Does that mean God isn't good?

Not at all. God does answer prayers - all of them. But, sometimes He answers "yes", sometimes "no", and sometimes "not now".  On June 24th, 2010 God answered my prayer with a resounding "No."

It reminds me of my having to watch my children struggle through difficult situations. Sometimes I will step in and help; other times I understand I must watch my children deal with pain, knowing they will be better for it. And when they ask for something, sometimes my answer is "Yes," sometimes it's "No" and sometimes it's "Not now." Not because I don't love them, but because I love them more than life itself. I will always stand by them, even as my heart is aching as I watch them struggle, because I know they must go through the pain to become stronger.

I hate the answer God gave me on June 24th, 2010. I do not understand it; I do not want it. And I have no choice, but to accept it.

Even with that "no" answer, I know God is still good. When I asked Him to help me get through this tragedy, He answered with a "Yes". He gave me the strength needed to go on. He put beautiful people in my life, to walk by my side through this horrific experience.

This is life... the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Just my thoughts...

So please, don't be offended, if you ever say to me, "God answered our prayers," and I just smile, saying nothing. Because He did answer - He always does: Yes, No, Not Now...

Just my thoughts.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mind Games

I have a confession to make... I really can understand how when someone gets older, and their mind doesn't work as well, they think one of their loved ones, who they lost a long time ago, is still here. I have a feeling, that when I'm old and senile my mind will play those kind of tricks on me.

Senile (adj): mentally less acute later in life; forgetful, confused, or otherwise mentally less acute in later life.

Before anyone thinks I've already gone senile, I want to assure you I have not. It's just that there are days that I will think about Austin and it seems like he's still here. But then my thoughts will take me back to the morning of June 24th, when I was getting packed to come be with Austin after his accident.  I see myself sitting at the desk in "his room" - where I was pulling information from the computer that I was going to need while I was in NY with Austin as he was recuperating, when the phone rang. I hear the doctor telling me that Austin hadn't made it and I hear myself asking her, over and over, "Really, Austin's dead? Are you sure? Really? No, really? OK... really?" She kept asking if someone was with me. I said, no, but I could get someone, "but, really?"

That's when my mind reminds my heart that Austin is not here, really. And even then, I have to admit, I am still not able to completely grasp that Austin is gone... not just for a few months or years, but for good. He is gone forever. Really.

"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..." Exerpt from Lament for a Son, by Nicholas Wolterstorff

In my very first post, I included the above quote, and today it is still one that runs through my mind on a regular basis. "It is the neverness that is so painful...."

And so I wonder, will there come some point in my very old age, where my mind will decide to no longer hold onto that fact, that Austin is gone, forget about the neverness and just remember the times he was here? And, when I'm 90, if that happens, do me a favor and just play along... Really...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Club

"...clubs are often started because of a strong interest..." - Ezine Articles.com

There are many different types of clubs. If you have an interest, chances are you'll find a club for it. Some clubs even have waiting lists, with more people wanting to join than there are openings. Most of the time, members encourage their friends to join, and they definately aren't discouraging friends from joining. And, I rarely hear of people joining clubs they don't want to belong to.

Ten months ago I was forced to join a club that no one wants to become a member of. I never submitted an application and, had I been asked, would have said, "No way! Only 'others' join 'That Club' and I want nothing to do with it!" I never imagined, in a thousand years, that I'd be in "The Club". And, unfortunately "The Club is one that once you're a member, you're always a member, like it or not...

So, now that I'm in "The Club", I figured I'd better check to see if there are rules. I couldn't find any, so I decided to make up my own:
  • Respect the uniqueness of all members.
  • Do not compare how one member is with how another member is doing.
  • Laughing and crying are both allowed, and welcomed.
  • If you don't want to talk, don't. If you want to share your feelings, share.
  • If you want to mention your loved one's name - do it!
  • Everyone has their own set of rules as to how they will feel in 1 month, 3 months, 1 year, or even 2 years. Respect those rules and don't try to change them to match yours or anyone else's.
  • Do not judge other members.
  • Have no shame in belonging to "The Club".
  • If you don't like these rules, make up your own.
Now that the rules have been established, we need an official saying. A friend of mine, who joined the club three months (to the day and hour) after I did, shared the following poem. I am recommending this become the "Official Club Reading". (Please note, the words "child" and "son" may be replaced with "friend", "husband", "wife", etc.)

Please don't tell me you know how I feel;
Unless you have loss your child too.
Please don't tell me my broken heart will heal;
Because that is just not true.
Please don't tell me my son is in a better place;
Though it is true, I want him here with me.
Don't tell me someday I'll hear his voice, see his face;
Beyond today I cannot see.
Don't tell me it is time to move on;
Because I cannot.
Don't tell me to face the fact he is gone,;
Because denial is something I can't stop.
Don't tell me to be thankful for the time I had;
Because I wanted more.
Don't tell me when I am my old self you will be glad;
I'll never be as I was before.
What you can tell me is you will be here for me;
That you will listen when I talk of my child.
You can share with me my precious memories;
You can even cry with me for a while.
And please don't hesitate to say his name;
Because it is something I long to hear everyday.
Friend, please realize that I can never be the same;
But if you stand by me,
you may like the new person I become someday.

Being part of "The Club" has made me a different person. I'm not sure how - as I'm still figuring that out - but I am definately different from who I was 11 months ago. I am fortunate to have friends -some who are also in "The Club", and some who are not - but all have stood by me as I've been figuring out who I now am... And I am forever grateful!

One more thing we need for "The Club"... a name. I propose...

"I Miss Your Smile"
I am now part of the "I Miss Your Smile Club"...
and AUSTIN... I Absolutely Miss Your Smile!