Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Every Year I'll Wonder...

I've been sitting here for a couple hours, trying to figure out how to express my thoughts on the night before Austin's 23rd birthday. But I realize my thoughts and feelings are too mixed up to put "on paper" at this time. But, one thing has been running through my mind... "Austin will be forever 21 years old in my memory... but I wonder, if he was still here...Who'd he be today?"

Sunny days seem to hurt the most
Wear the pain like a heavy coat
I feel you everywhere I go
I see your smile, I see your face
I hear you laughing in the rain
Still can't believe you're gone

It ain't fair you died too young
Like a story that had just begun
The death tore the pages all away
God knows how I miss you
All the hell that I've been through
Just knowing no one could take your place.

Sometimes I wonder who you'd be today

Would you see the world?
Would you chase your dreams?
Settle down with a family?
I wonder, what would you name your babies?
Some days the sky's so blue
I feel like I can talk to you
And I know it might sound crazy...

Sunny days seem to hurt the most
I wear the pain like a heavy coat
The only thing that gives me hope
Is I know I'll see you again someday...

Lyrics from "Who You'd Be Today" by Kenny Chesney

 VIDEO: Who You'd Be Today (by Kenny Chesney)

Thank you Austin for blessing me with the 21 years and 9 months you were here physically. And thank you for blessing me with the beautiful memories and friends you left us these past 15 months. Not a day goes by that I don't think of you. I love and miss you more than you can imagine!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

LLL - You Can't Always Get What You Want

You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you might find...
You get what you need...
Lyrics from "You Can't Always Get What You Want, by Rolling Stones

LIVIN' LOVIN' LIFE (LLL) - Even When You Don't Get What You Want:

"You Can't Always Get What You Want" is my family theme song. I would sing it to Austin when he was pouting about something he wanted, but couldn't have. When my other two boys are begging for the next best "but everybody else has it" item I look at them and sing, "You can't always get what you want. You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need...."  To which they respond, with minor irritation in their voices, "Ugh.... Mommm, would you stop!"

I am guilty of needing this song sung to myself, especially when I'm pouting because my plans aren't working they way I had "planned". This was definately the case a few weeks ago. Kenny Chesney was playing at the stadium in town. Billy Currington and Zac Brown Band were the opening acts. We had amazing seats and the original forecast called for warm weather and sun. Mike and I hadn't done very much as a couple in the past couple months, so I was looking forward to spending a relaxing evening with him, while soaking in some great music. To make things even better, all three bands sing songs that remind me of Austin....

I couldn't wait to hear Billy Currington sing "God is Great, Beer is Good, People are Crazy". I can hear Austin laughing the first time it came on the radio when we were together. From that time on, every time I hear that song I always think of Austin. My smile gets bigger when I think of the story the song is telling -  I can just picture Austin being the guy singing...

This old man and me, were at the bar and we
Were having us some beers and swapping I don't cares
Talking politics, blond and red-head chicks
Old dogs and new tricks and habits we ain't kicked

We talked about Gods grace and all the hell we raised
Then I heard the ol' man say;
God is great, beer is good and people are crazy...

Last call its 2am, I said goodbye to him
I never talk to him again
Then one sunny day, I saw the old mans face
Front page Obituary, he was a millionaire

He left his fortune to some guy he barely knew,
His kids were mad as hell
But me, I'm doing well
And I dropped by today, to just say thanks and pray,

I left a six-pack right there on his grave and i said;

God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy...

Austin had that way with people, they warmed up to him instantly. So why wouldn't a stranger leave his fortune to him. I was looking forward to listening to Billy Currington sing this song and feel as though Austin was with us, because he would be in spirit. In addition, the DVD I made in memory of Austin contains songs from both Zac Brown Band and Kenny Chesney. So needless to say, between "God is Great, Beer is Good, People are Crazy" and all of the other songs, I couldn't wait for the evening to begin, which did, but not according to my plans.

Hurricane Irene was heading our way, with anticipated arrival time being the following morning. Preceding Irene was rain - lots of it - and it began before the concert did. No problem, I grabbed Austin's rain jacket and was ready for a wet evening. I wasn't going to let a little water ruin my night out. I would just make it better by bringing a little more of Austin with me, via his raincoat.

The concert started at 5:00pm. Billy Currington came on, followed by Zac Brown. We arrived at the concert at 7:40pm, missing all of Billy and catching the last 4 songs of Zac Brown. I won't go into details as to why we were so late, but let me just say I was not a happy camper. I was ticked. I stood with the rest of the crowd listening to Zac Brown, mad, grumbling and not enjoying myself. My plans had been ruined.

As I stood there pouting a conversation began in my head. I said to myself, "So, because you're mad that you missed the first half of the concert you're going to sit here, be miserable and not enjoy any of the concert, not even the part you made it to? Come on, now you're being just plain stupid. Knock it off and enjoy the rest of the evening!" It took a few songs, but by the time Kenny Chesney came on stage I was having a good time.... And the rain stopped! This was the last concert of Kenny's tour so he he was having a little extra fun. After Kenny played his set, which was amazing, he brought Zac Brown back on stage and they jammed for another hour. How awesome was that! And to think I was going to let the fact that the evening hadn't started the way I had planned ruin the rest of the night.

Austin was with me in spirit that night, not only with the songs, but with the adjustment of my attitude. Many times, as a child, when Austin wasn't getting his way he'd pout for a bit then be off doing something else, making the best of what he had and enjoying it. I remember, more times than once, when I'd grounded Austin from an activity or priveledge I knew he liked. His response would be, "That's OK. I didn't want to do that anyway." And then off he'd go, having fun doing something else.

How often have I not enjoyed what I'm doing because I have a pouty attitude for not getting my way? What have I missed out on because, rather than being present in what I am doing, even if it's not my first choice, I allow a crummy, pisspot attitude to take over? Unfortunately, it's more times than I want to admit.

As the song says.... You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes you might find... You get what you need... And sometimes, many times, you may already have what you need... all you need to do is change your attitude.

That was Austin....
Always finding what he needed to live life and enjoy it with his uncanny ability of
Livin' Lovin' Life... no matter what!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

LLL - When Life's Not Fair

"Sometimes I think, 'It's just not fair.'" Words shared, this past week-end, between Mike and me immediately after visiting Austin's grave site.

LIVIN' LOVIN' LIFE (LLL) - When Life's Not Fair

There have been times, since Austin's death, that I begin to think for just a minute, "Why did Austin have to die when he was just beginning to really live? Why did I lose my son? Is it really fair?" Almost just as quickly I think, "Why not me? Why do I think I am immune to losing a child? Who am I that tragedy should not happen to me?"

Prior to Austin's accident I would worry about my kids. I would worry when the boys played sports, went to camp, rode their bikes up the road, were having trouble in school, were making poor choices, were just living life. I would worry when Austin was driving 6 hours to Massachusetts to visit us. These weren't stop you from functioning types of worries. They were simply "mom" worries. But, I truly never thought one of my boys would die, because that only happened in other families.

Even today, after I have lost a son in a motorcycle accident, I still cannot imagine other tragedies happening to my kids or family. If I'm brutally honest, there are times I think, "Only other parents have more than one child that dies. Only other parents have a child who: is diagnosed with Leukemia, is addicted to drugs, drops out of school, becomes rebellious and turns their back on their family, or any other 'bad' thing that can happen to a child." And I also think, "Only other couples get divorced; only other wives lose their husbands; only other familes file bankruptcy only other people's homes get destroyed by a tornado, earthquake, or fire; only others get cancer or have a heart attack; only others...."

And then I think, "How arrogant of me to think that I am exempt from the blows of life. Who do I think I am?"

Reality hits and begins to sink in. I did lose my oldest son. I am one of those "other mom's". I have been dealt one of the worst (if not the worst) thing a parent could experience. I did not have a choice, but it's not because "life is not fair", it's because "life is life". I cannot always decide what is going to happen, but once it happens I can decide how to deal with it. I can choose to let it pull me down and swallow me up, or I can look it in the face and choose to live.

This does not mean that I am never sad that Austin is no longer with me. This does not mean I don't have moments or days when I miss him so very much that it feels as if my heart is doing to break in half. Not at all... What it does mean is that I accept the cards I have been dealt and figure out how to still enjoy the life that I now have. I become present in the moments I've been given with my other two boys and husband. I look at the beauty in this world and soak it in. I laugh, even when my heart is still aching. I look at the tragedy of losing my son and allow it to help me look at what is truly important in life and then continue to live it. It is my choice, when life is not fair, to decide to still find joy in it, because there is still lots of it to be enjoyed.

"When life deals you a 'bad hand' and something tragic takes place you have a choice of either drown or start swimming. Make your choice count." Author Unknown

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


the name of Austin's electrical business.

I remember helping create a logo and business card for Austin, loving the fact that he was so proud of the name he came up with and always excited when he'd call about another job he'd picked up. Almost a year after Austin's accident the irony of the name hit me... START TO FINISH....

Austin lived his life to the fullest.... START TO FINISH!!! I can truly say "I was blessed by Austin and his life, from START TO FINISH" (something a parent never wants to have to say, ever.)  Austin's friends' lives were blessed.... People Austin had just met were blessed.... Even strangers were blessed.... START TO FINISH... by Austin's love of life and people.

With Austin's humor, I can see him smiling and chuckling about the irony of his business name. Who knew, when he came up with "START TO FINISH", how much it would truly apply to his life. I wasn't ready for him to be finished. I felt like he had just gotten started. But, the more I think about it, the more I wonder if maybe he isn't finished. I have watched how Austin's life has affected so many people, even after he's gone. His love of life has made many of us think about life in a different way, and in a way that we may never have, if Austin hadn't left us.

I have given a hard look at why Austin impacted so many people, without even realizing it. I have wondered what I could do so that I had the love of life like Austin had. As I have reflected on this I have noticed that it was not one large thing, but many little things which, when added together, become a beautiful gift to those around.

For the next few entries I will look at ways to live life to the fullest, mostly based on things I saw in Austin. I hope this helps both myself and others to look at life differently - to soak in the beauty, even in the storms, and to live life to the fullest... from START TO FINISH!

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain."

Thursday, September 1, 2011

If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away.... I'd drop in and chat for a while...

"If heaven wasn't so far away. I'd pack up the kids and go for the day..." ~ lyrics from "If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away" by Justin Moore

Wouldn't that be nice, if we could pop into heaven and visit those that have left us. I smile thinking about walking down heaven's streets with my other two boys, seeing Austin coming towards us. I can hear my youngest say, "Auuuustin!" and going up to him, giving him a huge hug. I can hear Austin chuckling, saying, "Hey Bud. How are you?" with that sweet smile spreading across his face. I can feel his long arms wrap around me, as I squeeze him tight, telling him, "Hey, how are you? Man, we miss you!"

My middle son would give a sideways hug to Austin, saying in his now deep voice, "Hey Austin." Austin would laugh when he heard how deep his brother's voice has gotten. Then I'd point out how his brother's nose is becoming more and more like Austin's and how his muscles may be as big as Austin's. Austin would laugh, saying, "Yeah, you're right," and rub his brother's head.

"Sit on a cloud and visit for a while. It'd do me good just to see them smile..." ~ lyrics from "If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away" by Justin Moore

I can see us sitting on a cloud, catching up, laughing at the different things going on, reminiscing of things Austin did before he left, and soaking in Austin's stories of what he's been doing since. I'm sure he'd have some good adventures to share. As we're chatting, I can envision others walking by waving and calling out, "Hey, Austin!" with Austin smiling and replying, "Hey, how are you?" He'd be so excited to tell us about all the different people he's met and how they know others that he knew.

"Then tell him we'd be back in a couple of days. In the rear view mirror we'd all watch 'em wave." ~ lyrics from "If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away" by Justin Moore

When it came time to say good-bye, it wouldn't be so hard, because we'd know we'd see him again soon. I'd give him a huge hug, tell him I love him and miss him, and that I'd be back in a few days. As we drove away, the boys and I would laugh at how good it was to see Austin and comment at how much we missed him.

"Yeah, and losing him wouldn't be so hard to take.... If heaven wasn't so far away." ~ lyrics from "If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away" by Justin Moore