But You Have To KEEP ON LIVING!
Last week as I was looking through Austin's stash of CDs, I stumbled upon a CD that had long-lost photos of the last hiking trip we went on in the Adirondacks. It was Mike, Austin, one of his brothers, and myself. Austin's youngest brother wasn't old enough to join us. As I was clicking through the photos a smile came to my lips as memories popped up from the hike and as I remembered this is one of the reasons Austin had loved the outdoors. For several years Austin would venture on this annual Memorial Day hiking trip (one I had done as a middle schooler / teenager myself) to the Adirondacks with Mike, my dad, and usually a friend. The first few years that Austin did this trek, I was unable to join the crew, as I was home tending to Austin's two younger brothers. But, I always looked forward to hearing the stories when he came home.
Finally, I was able to leave the two little ones home with my mom and relive childhood memories with the Austin and the rest. Then, the following year, Austin's one brother was finally old enough to make the climb with us. These pictures captured the memories of that hike and reminded me of the reason we did it in the first place - the beauty of the mountains, especially from the top, made you stop and be awed by nature.
This was the last hike we did as a family, as our schedules, commitments and priorities changed. Mike and I, at various times, would discuss taking the family on another hike, but we never carved out the time to do it, always having one excuse after another why we couldn't go. After Austin died Mike would intermittently mention that we should take the two boys on a hiking trip. I would quickly dismiss it, because truth be told, the first thought that always came to mind was that Austin wouldn't be with us. How could we go on a hiking trip when for years Austin would have loved to have done another hike, and we never made time to do it. It felt as though we would be betraying him. I think this is what happens sometimes, when we lose someone. We know we have to keep living, but we feel guilty, when those who have died can't join in on the adventure.
As I looked at the photos and the mountainous scenes, views you can only get from the top, the beauty of it all hit me. I thought, "How can I deny Austin's brothers from experiencing this part of life? They are still alive and need to live life, to breath in it's splendor and to experience it's beauty. They need to live life to the fullest... just like Austin did!"
And I smiled, with tears in my eyes, as I thought of how Austin would agree.... his brothers needed to hike to the top of a mountain and get a glimpse of heaven!