Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Never Get Over This... What is 'This'?

A few days after Austin's accident a well meaning friend stated, "You will never get over this." Hmmm...

For whatever reason, my mind has been thinking of this comment lately and wondering, "What am I supposed to get over? What does it mean to 'get over this'?  What will it mean if I don't 'get over this'? What is 'this'?"

I think the "this" (or "it") is referring to the loss of a child (Austin). But the term "will never get over..." is where I get hung up. To me, if I "never get over this", it means I will let it define me and my life from here on out. It means that, because of 'this', I will be pulled down, never to be able to get up completely again, I will have some joy taken away from me for the rest of my life. I will be negatively impacted from here on out, never being able to enjoy life the same.

Yuck! What a depressing way to view a horrible experience - to think that my life will struggle from here on out because of this loss, because I will 'never get over it'...

Before anyone thinks I'm a cold-hearted person, let me assure you that I am not saying that my life hasn't been changed - it has. I am not saying that I don't think about Austin and miss Austin every day - I do. I am not implying, not even for a minute, that I don't shed tears daily from the thought of not being able to: pick up the phone and call Austin, have him come visit us, go visit him, or give him a big huge hug and tell him 'I love you!' - I do and these thoughts sadden me in a way I have never felt before. But I will not let them destroy me. They have simply become part of me, the same way every other experience I have had in life has become part of me, has made me who I am today.

There are certain events in our lives that we can remember the moment they occurred, the moment that our lives were turned upside down and were changed in an instant. Alan Jackson, in his song "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)" speaks of the day 9/11 hit, but parts of the song apply to any time we've experienced one of those earth-shattering moments...
Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September June day?...
Did you look up to heaven for some kind of answer
And look at yourself and what really matters?...

But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith, hope and love are some good things He gave us
And the greatest is love...

Did you open your eyes, hope it never happened
Close your eyes and not go to sleep?
Did you notice the sunset the first time in ages
Or speak to some stranger on the street?...
Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September June day?
I remember the day Austin was born. I woke up with contractions, waited a bit, got up and showered, and drove to my mom's. (I know, I shouldn't have been driving, but oh well...). Part way down my road major road construction was underway, backing up traffic, and I had to sit and wait until it was my turn to go down the single lane, as contractions continued to come. Six hours later Austin made his debut into this world - and at that moment a love filled my heart and soul, a love that I had never felt or imagined possible. I will always remember that day as though it happened yesterday.

Fast forward 21-1/2 years later, I'm standing in the kitchen, getting a cup of coffee, talking with Mike before he heads out to work when my cell phone rings. Austin's name shows on my caller ID. I answer it, but it's not Austin, it's his friend telling me he's been in an accident. An hour or so later my phone rings again, it's the hospital, telling me Austin had not made it. I just keep repeating, "Really? Ok, really? He didn't make it? OK, no really?...."  With Austin's departure from this world a sorrow filled my being, a sorrow like I had never felt before. I will always remember that moment as though it happened yesterday.

I am different today, different than I was a year ago. A year ago I was different than I was 21-1/2 years earlier. Ten, twenty, or thirty years from now I will be different than I am today. Life molds us and makes us who we are. There are moments, when life changes in an instant and we know we've changed. There are other times when the change occurs slowly, gradually over the months and years. We are not stagnant, but rather a work in progress, and life's experiences are part of this process - both the highs and the lows, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

But a bad life experience does not mean we're destined for misery for the rest of our lives. It doesn't mean we are to stop living. We must keep living and make the best of the cards we've been dealt. We must make the most of the days we're given.

I will never forget Austin, I will always miss him. He will always be a part of me. He changed me the moment he was born, and throughout his life. As a result of being Austin's mom (and the mom to my other 2 boys) I have become a different person, different than I was when I had no children. I have experienced both love and sadness, at a level I never realized possible.

The loss of Austin will be with me always, but instead of saying, "I will never get over 'this'"... I choose to say, "I will always miss Austin. I will always remember him and love him. He will always be in my heart and be with me wherever I go," as I continue to strive to laugh often, love deeply, and live life to the fullest... the Austin way!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Let It Be...

I was walking through my house the other day, noticing how some of the rooms are organized and neat, while others have found themselves to be the "dumping ground". Sometimes, those "dumping" rooms start to drive me crazy and I have to take time and organize them. Other days, I don't have time to deal with them, so I simply close the door and "let it be" - for then. I know that at some point I will venture into those rooms and start to put them back in order. It may be for only an hour, where I will deal with part of the mess, then I will be called away, on to another task or go somewhere else. I will once again shut the door, knowing I will soon return.

There are times when I have no choice and have to clean the area, right then. Perhaps it's in the main living space and I can only stand the mess for a short time. Or maybe, it's one of the guess rooms that I need to straighten for company coming later in the day or week. Or, it may simply be that I'm just plain bored and can't stand the thought that there's a mess in the room. I become energized and decide to tackle the battle head-on, get it over with, get it cleaned. And, there are times when I walk into a messy room and feel overwhelmed. I just stand there, thinking, "Ugh... this will be impossible." I may sit for a bit, trying to figure out where to start, can't figure it out, get up, walk out, and shut the door - not having the energy, at that moment, to deal with it. It will still be there for me another day, when I am motivated. But not now.

Eventually, the room will be back in order and I will leave the door open. As I walk by the clean room, I may even find myself walking in, just to appreciate it - to just sit and soak it in.

It's odd how sometimes a mess can drive me crazy, I can't stand being in the same room, I have to clean it or get out. But then, other times, that same mess doesn't bother me. I'm able to just "let it be".

And so it is with my dealing with my thoughts of Austin. There are days that I either don't have the time or the energy to deal with with my sorrow, that I have to close the door and just "let it be". Once in a while, my mind walks by and gets a brief glimpse, a fleeting thought about how much I miss Austin. It may be a flashback, to the day I received the call and I relive the sadness that reaches to the core of my being. And sometimes when the thoughts come, I think, "Not now, I can't go there. I have places to go and things to do. I just don't have time." And so, I close the door, knowing I will be back.

Other times, I purposely open the door. I need to think about Austin, about the joy he brought me, about how much I love him and miss him more than words can describe. I need to laugh at the silly things he'd do and smirk about how sometimes he would frustrate me, in his own little ways, and how I could never stay mad at him long. I need to reflect on the life-altering day, when I got the news. I need to sift through my thoughts and feelings, let them sink in, move them around, put them in order, get comfortable with them.

There is an odd comfort when I enter the "Austin room", as I sit with my tears, wishing I had had more days, months, and years with Austin. It may be for only a few minutes, an hour, or the entire day. I simply do what needs to be done, at that point in time... I just let it be.

The "Austin room" is always there, waiting for me to stop by, sort it out, clean it up, or when it's in order, just appreciate it. And when I can't enter it, I just "let it be" and go on with my day, knowing that no matter where I am or what I'm doing, the "Austin room" is always there.

Because, Austin is always in my heart - always has been and always will be.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


"When the dog bites. When the bee stings. When I'm feeling sad. I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don't feel so bad..." lyrics from "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music

I don't know why, but the last several weeks I find myself humming this song. And then it leads me to think, not of my favorite things, but rather of Austin's.

So I decided to rewrite the song for him.

(Sung to the tune "My Favorite Things")

Mudding, wakeboarding, and fast dirtbike riding
Climbing up mountains and crazy snowboarding
Dinosaur BBQ, hot chicken wings
These are a few of Austin’s favorite things

Helping a buddy do work on his house
A cute little kitten that might chase a mouse
Hanging with friends, lots of Monster drinkings
These are a few of Austin’s favorite things

Joking and laughing while working on cars
Sitting on roof tops just gazing at stars
Bon fires, cook-outs, and all of the likings
These are a few of Austin’s favorite things

When the tears fall
When the loss stings
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember his favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad

After singing the song, I find my mind moving to the "name association" game. I think of a word and the first thing that pops into my head is "Austin". Before I know it, I start sounding like a broken record...

Blue eyes - Austin... Mischevous smile - Austin... Contagious laughter - Austin
Motorcycles - Austin... Dirt Bikes - Austin

Fixing cars - Austin... Hanging a light fixture - Austin... Rewiring - Austin
Lending a helping hand - Austin... Chatting it up with a stranger - Austin

Chipless Chocolate Chip Cookies - Austin... Strawberries, melon, fruit - Austin
Tomato/cucumber salad - Austin... Cucumbers in vinegar - Austin...
Homemade mac & cheese - Austin... Caprese salad - Austin
Mountain Dew - Austin... Shock Top - Austin... Monster - Austin...

Hiking - Austin... Camping - Austin
Mudding - Austin... Donuts in snowy parking lots - Austin
Table top, bar top, or coasters made out of bottle caps - Austin
Dinosaur BBQ - Austin... Hanging out with friends - Austin

And most important: Living Life to the Fullest - Austin, Austin, Austin!

So, the next time you're missing Austin, start playing the name association game; before you know it you'll be smiling and singing...

When the tears fall
When the loss stings
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember Austin's favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad