Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal. ~From a headstone in Ireland
One "concern" I sometimes have is that, as time goes on, I may forget things about Austin. I want to hold his memories close and never forget a single thing. But, my fear is probably unnecessary, because the opposite seems to be happening. I find myself remembering more, instead of less. I will see, hear or smell something that stirs a memory I had forgotten. It appears that the memories have not disappeared, but have simply recessed somewhere in my brain, waiting to be summoned at just the right moment. Moments like...
... Driving on Route 104 in Oswego... One day this past summer, on my way to camp, I drove by a gas station that brought me back to remembering the day Austin rode his bike (the one he owned previously prior to his last one) to his aunt's camp. I met him at that gas station to show him how to get to her camp, which was a mile or 2 on back roads from that spot. I could see the proud look on his face when we arrived at the party and people came to look at his bike....
... Surprise visit from Austin... A few years ago Austin decided to surprise one night. He drove to Massachusetts, arriving in the wee hours of the morning and unbeknownst to us, snuck inside the house (he had a key), crawled into his sleeping bag, plopped on the couch and fell asleep. I woke in the early morning and came downstairs to find this lump on my couch? I was confused at first, until I realized it was Austin... what an wonderful surprise that warmed my heart.
... 2nd surprise visit from Austin... Mike and I knew Austin was coming late at night, but his brothers didn't. They spent the night at the next door neighbors. The morning, after Austin arrived, he went knocking at the neighbor's door asking for the boys. They were so excited, saying "Austiiiiiiin!
... 5K events... Again, driving to camp, I drove through a section of a town where a 5K event was in progress. Seeing the runners conjured up the memories of the time Austin ran in the Crosswinds 5K. He hadn't trained for it at all - which was so Austin. I don't even know if he wore running shoes (at that age running shoes weren't "cool" and most of the time he was sporting "Skate" shoes). As he was running, trying to keep up with the others, he was with he kept huffing and puffing and saying, "I can't see". But he refused to stop. I'm sure he was encouraging for those he ran next to. They probably had better time than they otherwise would have, as they were most likely running faster to get away from hearing Austin's groans. Listening to the stories told afterwards just made me smile, because I could visualize Austin's run so clearly. I think the stories were told over and over many times, for many years.
... Summer's here... Every year when I open the pool, I am sure the memory of Austin picking me up and jumping in the pool with me, clothes and all, will always come to mind. Austin's brothers laughed so hard.
... Visiting the Emergency Room... Late one night, in November 2007, I took Austin to the emergency room with an abscessed tonsil. The next morning, as we were waiting for Austin to be discharged, he was still all medicated up. There was a delay in signing of the release papers due to other emergencies arriving. Austin was getting a little antsy to leave, then he stopped and smiled, saying, "I know why they won't let me go. They like me!" I couldn't stop laughing, because he was so darn cute! I can still see the silly smirk and hear his light-hearted voice, that only Austin had.
... Coming home from the ER visit... Immediately after Austin being discharged from the ER... The memories continue.... A couple hours after we arrived home from the ER visit, we were getting ready to head to my dad's for dinner. Everyone was in the car waiting. I came out and went to climb in the front seat, there was Mike in the front passenger seat and Austin...in the driver's seat! The two other boys were buckled in the back seat. I asked, "What is Austin doing?" Mike stated, "He wanted to drive." To which I replied, "I don't think so! Over my dead body... He's still has the pain medicine in him!" With a grin and a chuckle, Austin moved to the back seat....
... Baby blankets with satin trim... I bet most people don't know that old silk nightgowns are perfect "blankie" material. Austin loved the silky trim on his blankie. He loved it so much that it kept coming unthreaded and I'd have to sew it back on. One day I couldn't find his blanket, which made bedtime/naptime rough. Then I got an idea.... I cut large rectangles out of an old satiny nightgown of mine and gave those to him. Problem solved! (It was great for me too, because I was so tired of the silk strip wearing out and having to sew it back up.)
... Generators needed... When we lost power this past August from Hurricane Irene, and then again this October from the Nor'easter snow storm, people either turned on their generators, bought a generator, or talked about how they had to get one before the next "storm"...every time generators are mentioned I remember Austin being excited because the store/shop he worked at, for a while, sold generators. Every time he sold one he'd offer his electrical services (for a fee) to install them for the customer. He was always excited when he got a job to do that.... Always looking for ways to make a little extra.
... The messy basement... There are certain sections in my basement that when I clean I can't help but remember Austin, as his boxes are all around.
... Yellow Subaru t-shirts.... The other day as I was folding the yellow Subaru t-shirt that Matthew "stole" from Austin when he was visiting one week-end reminded me of Austin. The next time Austin came to visit Matt was wearing the shirt. Austin noticed it and said, "Hey! That's my shirt, I've been looking for it. Where'd you get it from?" Matthew just laughed and kept it. Matthew loves yellow, Subarus, and most of all Austin, that's why he "stole" it...
... Chocolate Chip Cookies... Every time I make chocolate chip cookies I will think of Austin. He liked them best without the chips. So now I make a few "chipless chocolate chip cookies" every time I bake them.
... Homemade Mac & Cheese... For the longest time Austin was the only one that liked (no loved) my homemade mac & cheese. I would try to make it whenever he came to visit. Now, everytime I make it Austin is with me. (And both my other boys have decided they love it too!)
... That Christmas Tree's Mine!... A few years ago we were Christmas tree shopping. We still go and cut our own, it's a family tradition. The tree farm we went to actually let you drive down the paths between the rows of tree. Austin and I couldn't stop laughing that we were so lame that we were sitting in a warm cozy car scouting out trees. Then we spotted a couple looking at a tree, like they really wanted it. Austin and I started joking how we should get out and run up to the tree and start cutting it down, like we were taking it, then say, "Just kidding." We even got out of the car and started walking towards it. The couple looked at us, so we just turned and kept laughing. Mike did not find this amusing, which just made us laugh harder. Ever since that Christmas, whenever we go for our annual Christmas tree hunt that story gets brought up. It was so Austin!
Some memories seem to be always there, lingering in all my thoughts, others come for a moment and then recess to the back of my mind, not to return for a very long time, and still others appear every time I see or hear a trigger (like chocolate chip cookies and homemade mac & cheese).
Love is stronger than death even though it can't stop death from happening, but no matter how hard death tries it can't separate people from love. It can't take away our memories either. In the end, life is stronger than death. ~Author Unknown
Another fear I have is that I will forget the sound of Austin's voice and laugh, but I am blessed to have a couple videos of Austin, that capture his essence to the full. Whenever I feel I can't "remember" I simply watch the video and the memories come flooding back and warm my heart - his smile, laugh, voice, and mannerism - it's as if he's right next to me.
After reflecting on how memories come and go every day, I've decided, it doesn't matter which type of memory it is, I just know I will hold each one to my heart and savor it while I can. He is always with me!
When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure. ~Author Unknown