In Loving Memory

  • Remembering my beloved child, Austin, who passed away at the early age of 14. He lived more in those 14 short years than most and is an inspiration to us all.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Field

This was a poem Austin wrote 2001 or 2002.
I can only imagine what type of fields he sees and plays in now.

The Field
Leaves on the trees fall and flow.
Grass in the field as green as British moss.
The creek right beside flows.
Fish swim
like a person that is laying on a raft.
with no worry, no care in the world.
I sit on the ground.
Animals walk by like I am not there.
The dog barks
like lions roaring.
The birds chirp
like a whistle.
Walking in the path in the field
made by cows and our horse.
The only time I go
is when I am
mad or when I want
to be alone.
I sit where no one can see me.
I love that grassy field.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The love of the game

Baseball season is nearly here and I can't imagine it without Austin. Actually, he was about the only reason I even cared about it.

Austin loved baseball from the moment he was old enough to pick up a bat. He began playing T-ball when he was barely three, coached by his Dad. I think there was only one season he didn't play, most years he played Spring and Fall. He played for the county, never the school system because he played for the sport, not the clique.

He had moments of greatness on the field and could have had so many more, if given more play time. He wasn't whiny or cocky and didn't beg to play, you either wanted him or you didn't. Actually, one Spring he quit mid-season, because the team and coach was a mess. They only played an exclusive few, even though they weren't any better than others on the team. The coach obviously had his own agenda and the true love of baseball wasn't among them. Austin was frustrated and although I raised my boys not to be quitters, we all agreed to walk that year.

He was a leftie and was usually one of the biggest kids on the team, so he could certainly put a fear on the other side. Most years, he played outfield and had quite an arm. He could catch a ball at the fence and seem to only softly throw it, as it effortlessly landed at home in seconds. He also had great power behind his hits and when the bat and ball met, it was magic.

I still remember a tournament game from last year or so as one of his best ever. Their team ranked as the underdogs (always my favorite to root for) and the chances of them winning were not great. They fought it out through the entire game, the score teetering from one team to the other. The game was tied, we had 2 outs and Austin was up to bat. I always dreaded this situation for my kids, as if the weight of the world were on their shoulders. I knew Austin was nervous, although he didn't show it, but he wanted the win for the team and felt entirely responsible in that moment. He struck out at first bat, a hush fell and then a rally. Second bat, another strike. I held my breath. The crack of the bat on the third and final swing, is still a sound I remember. He sent it soaring, brought everyone in and won the game! It was amazing and I let out my held breath with a proud Mom's scream.

But playing the sport was not Austin's only love of baseball. He lived for the season and would watch the games on every tv in our house. One year, we got a free preview of the sports package and he was on cloud 9. It was hard to get him out of the house! He gave the game his full attention and would get so excited - or aggravated - depending on the score. Austin and his Dad liked to pick opposite teams and fight it out on tv. Tim always picked the underdog, or whatever team he knew Austin wouldn't like, just for the heck of it. I remember this past summer, we were vacationing in Florida and it was world series or something (no, I'm not an expert in the sport!). We were relaxing at a beach concert in Pensacola and Austin was on the edge of his lounge chair, waiting to get back to our condo so he could watch the game. He was calling family in Kentucky to see if they would record the show, in case he missed it! We got back in time for him to watch the ending so he slept happy that night.

Better than tv, was watching it live. How I wish we'd taken those baseball trips he'd talked about. He and his Dad did go to a Cincinnati Reds game one year with a friend of his from school. They were all the way up in the nosebleed section but Austin didn't care. I think he would have been happy in the parking lot! And every summer, we attended at least a handful of Otter games, because they were close. There was never a game that his name didn't get picked for the "between-inning games" they played on the field. One year, he won a yellow t-shirt from Zesto's ice cream and he wore the thing until it changed shades from being washed so much. He also won a free pizza from Turoni's, which quickly became our favorite eating spot after the game. And of course, one game he didn't win because the competition was to sing a song. He whispered "Twinkle, Twinkle" but the old man competing with him won by a mile. Austin would have preferred a batting competition!

He also loved collecting baseball cards and memorabilia. His walls are covered with posters, hats, t-shirts and his favorite framed art piece of the St. Louis Cardinals. We bought it at an auction for Relay For Life. He played the guilt card that night, adding all the money he'd saved from mowing for the season, and reminding me that it was "going to a great cause." I would've paid about anything though, to see his face, feel that great hug and hear the words, "thanks Mom, you are the best!"

His other enjoyment was watching Noah play ball and coaching him along. Austin was rarely seated in the stands but rather in the dugout helping the kids or behind the pitcher's mound, giving Noah pointers. On practices, he was always out in the field helping them, even though he wasn't officially a coach or any part of Noah's team. He did it for Noah and his intense love of the game. He did coach Noah one season in Upward basketball, with his Dad, and did a wonderful job. Austin had such patience with the kids and knew how to help and improve each child. He would have made a wonderful coach as an adult. He learned from the best.

Noah doesn't want to play this Spring. And I understand. Things just won't be the same without Austin there to cheer him on. I hope someday he'll pick it back up because Noah inherited the same talents as his big brother. And I hope that our family can find the love again for the game. Just not this year, our favorite player isn't on the field or in the stands this season.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Passion for a Cure

I should be in Frankfort today with Austin. Today is the American Cancer Society Lobby Day, a day where we can meet our legislators and remind them how important it is to find the cure for cancer.

Austin attended with me last year, passionate about raising the cigarette tax. We watched cigarettes take two of my grandparents and Austin feared it would take his two Mamaws. Thankfully, they both quit smoking this past year and Austin was here to see that. However, he understood how dangerous cigarettes were and wanted a smoke-free Kentucky, a smoke-free world.

I didn't know how well he would handle himself in Frankfort but he was a star. He didn't hesitate in shaking hands and telling his story last year to anyone who would listen. I know he had big plans for this year's event. He was a freshman this year and a member of OC Drug Free, as well as an ambassador for Together We Care. He wanted to see several go up with him this to ask for increase in the cigarette tax. I'm sad he didn't get to be here for the increase, but I know he is watching over us and is aware and proud.

Austin was born into Relay For Life so he didn't have much of a choice to be involved; however, he was passionate about it and stayed involved in every way he could. He asked to be Team Captain for our family team when he was only 9. The local paper, The Times-News, picked up the story and here is part of what they wrote:

"Nine-year old Austin Blair could be riding his bike and hanging out with his friends everyday after school. Instead, he is knocking on doors, writing letters and asking local businesses to help support Relay For Life, an event set aside each year to raise money for cancer.

'People in my family have had it and a lot people die by it,' Austin said, 'I just want to help find a cure.' And for this year's third annual Ohio Co Relay For Life, Austin has been named Team Captain.

Last year, Austin raised $250 for Relay but has set his goal for $500 this year. Austin said he's preparing himself so he can stay awake for the overnight event. 'I already have a habit of staying up late,' he said, 'But I try to practice staying up later on the weekends.'"

Austin went on to be Top Youth Fundraiser that year, raising $1004.05 on his own. He continued to be our Team Captain each year. This year, we have kept the team going in his memory. You can visit our family page at: http://main.acsevents.org/goto/Austinslegacy

Relay won't be the same this year, just as Lobby Day wasn't. I couldn't attend Lobby Day because it was just too hard, too many memories too soon of him not being there. I don't know how our family will do at the Ohio Co Relay event but we'll try and do our best. We'll try to be there, if only for awhile, to remember our son and his passion. Someday we'll find that cure. Someday we'll make him proud. I know we have a little more help on our side, from above now, helping us see it through.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Lasting Tribute

Tim and I finalized Austin's monument this past week. It is something we've been working on for nearly two months. It was the most difficult and yet one of the easiest "tasks" we've had to do for him through this journey.

At first, I was panicked, thinking this was my final duty for him as a mom. The last purchase we would make for him. Not given the chance, we would never get to buy him his first car, pay for his honeymoon, etc. This would be our final gift to him. That realization saddened me and was sometimes more than I could bear. It overwhelmed me, because I feared I couldn't capture everything about him on a single stone. However, once we began the process, it came so easily.

We chose a stone that has to come from overseas, India to be exact. The shape is free form so that it will be unique to any other, just like Austin. The faces of the stone will be polished but the sides left natural. It reminds me of the many, many rocks Austin has in his room, an entire bookshelf filled with different varieties. He loved collecting rocks from an early age. I'm sure he would be impressed that this stone is one of a kind and traveling from so far away.

We wanted to capture his precious face on the stone and picked two of our favorite recent photos. The front of stone has a head shot from our last family vacation together. It is a rare, full smile, as he didn't like me to photograph him. He is relaxing at the beach, sitting in a chair by the sea. He was at peace in Florida and we know is at ultimate peace now.

Austin was so many things, accomplished so much in his short time here, that we also tried to leave his legacy on the stone. We couldn't list everything but tried to list the things he was most proud of, as were we.


Finally, the back of the stone will also have a photo etched from an impromptu family trip to Pine Knob, this past Labor Day. He fell in love with the beauty of the place. I think he could have explored the woods all day and we had plans to return in the spring. Below the photo, we included the one Bible verse, 1 Timothy 4:12, that I think best encompasses who he was.

The proofs don't do it justice, but I've included them in this post, especially for those of you who read this blog from so far away. You may never get the chance to visit his grave in person.

However, I hope that for those who do, it will be a comfort. I know it will be for us, once it is installed. I also hope that it is a lasting legacy for years to come, so that all who see it know who Austin was and the inspiration he left behind.














The joy of laughter

I miss Austin's laugh every day. His love for life and playful spirit are among the things I loved most about him. If he found something to be funny, he didn't hold it in and chuckle softly. Instead, he laughed whole-heartily with a big smile and it was contagious.

I miss the funny text messages or clips he found from YouTube that he sent me daily. I miss the stories of funny things that happened at school. Most of all, I miss the pranks he played on us, especially to his Dad.

Austin loved to pick on Tim, sometimes planning things far in advance. He looked forward each year to April Fools Day, because it gave him an open invitation to attack. Last year on that day, Tim and I were enjoying coffee on the deck. Austin came out and openly offered to freshen our cups. I knew by looking at his eyes and how they began to twinkle, he had something up his sleeve but I said nothing. Moments later, Tim is spitting the coffee across our patio table, because Austin added salt instead of sugar. It was a standing joke after that and Tim pinky-tested any coffee Austin poured afterwards.

One year, while we were vacationing in the Smokies, Austin played a great joke on me. We had just placed our order for a huge dessert that we all planned to share and I excused myself to the restroom before it arrived. I came back to an empty plate with a smidge of brownie and some melted ice cream, along with smiling boys. Well, I fell for it completely and was a little ticked they scarfed down the treat without me. I couldn't believe it arrived so fast - or that they devoured it so quickly. Most of all, I couldn't believe they didn't save me any. Minutes later our real dessert arrived, Tim and the boys busted out laughing, and the waitress stood there, unsure what had happened. When I left to go the restroom, they noticed a couple near us eating the same dessert and asked for their plate, once finished. The rest is history. It was one of Austin's best pranks.

It was also a running joke between Tim and Austin over the clothes they each wore. Austin laughed at Tim's "Dad clothes" and Tim shook his head in disbelief at the rips and tears of the brand new jeans we would purchase. Austin would urge Tim to dress cooler, and Tim would offer his old work jeans to Austin to save money, instead of buying new versions with holes. Of course, both were joking and it was all in good fun but it was a joy to watch them go at it. This fall, when we went school shopping, I think Austin picked the jeans with the most tears and holes, just to get at Tim. He'd show Tim the latest purchase and then offer some made-up, extravagant price that we'd paid. Austin would smile that big smile, Tim would fall for it, and the "fight" was on.

One of the last pranks Austin pulled on me was on his way home from wrestling practice. He texted me that he was still there, tired and hungry, and couldn't get his buddy to leave (who was his ride). The Mom in me immediately feels bad for him, worried how late it will be before he gets home, fed and in the bed, especially on a school night. His gym was in Owensboro, a 45 minute drive, so I couldn't offer to pick him up. Instead, I offer to start cooking him dinner, so at least he'll have a hot meal to come home to. A few seconds later, he is entering the door, laughing, McDonalds bag in hand. He did hear an earful that night, about making me worry needlessly but I look back at it now and chuckle.

How I miss that big smile and full laugh. He filled our lives with such joy. Things are quieter now without him here.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Things we shared

Austin was a lot like me in many ways. Several people commented how much he looked like me. This was not something he liked to hear, who wants to look like their mom?! Aside from looks, we shared a lot of the same likes and dislikes, outlooks on life, etc.

Austin recently found my old cd collection and became a fan of 80s hair bands. It was fun reliving my youth with him, while jamming to a Bon Jovi or AC/DC tune. AC/DC was his favorite and he wore out my "Back in Black" cd, playing it so much. We loved playing Guitar Hero and Rock Band together because so many of those old hits were included on the games. I regret not ever taking him to a concert. I was actually considering it this year, as I felt he was old enough to enjoy it. How I would have loved to see his face when the band came on stage.

He shared my love for all types of music though and would listen to anything once. I guess that is part of what led him to join the band at school. Again, we shared the love of playing musical instruments. I might have been first chair back in my day but I couldn't brag that I played two instruments the first year! He played both trumpet and french horn and got better every month. While he didn't join the marching band, because he didn't want to give us sports, he did love to listen to them play and to practice with them when he got the chance.

Austin also enjoyed cooking and we liked to spend time together in the kitchen. He was a hard critic though and never hesitated in telling me if something wasn't up to par. He liked to add his own special concoctions of seasonings to every dish I made. And then of course, it was "just right!" During the holidays, we would bake for several days, making gifts for teachers and friends. I can remember Austin as a young child, using step stools to reach the counter tops so we could cook. However, he was also independent and liked to be in the kitchen alone. When he was younger, he liked to pick out his own snacks, heat his own foods in the microwave and sometimes make his own lunches for school. As he grew older, I allowed him to do more and more in the kitchen. He became a short order chef for Noah in the afternoons, when they arrived home from school. Much to Noah's dismay though, he was always mindful of not filling him too full and ruining his appetite for dinner.

Austin and I also shared the same interest in movies, tv shows and books - at least on many levels. Sometimes I would introduce him to a new show or book and sometimes he would do the same for me. On one of our trips to the library last year, I realized he like Edgar Allan Poe. Poe was one of my favorite authors at his age. I loved it when he became old enough to raid my bookcase and we could talk about books we'd both read. It is now on my list to read the books that new series "Bones" is from, as those are the ones he was most recently reading. He also always wanted me to read the Pendragon series...and I will. I miss going to the movies with him, just the two of us. Or laughing together over our favorite tv shows. Tim and I will be going to see Jeff Dunham in May, one of Austin's favorite comedians. I sure wish he could sit with us but I'm sure he'll have the best seats in the house that day.

Our personalities are what we probably shared most and I think that is why we were so close. Both of us are reserved, often mistaken for being shy. However, if you get to know us, you know we're just the opposite. We were both always up for something new, the next dare, or pulling a great prank on someone. Both good listeners and I think that is what I miss the most about him. He was one of the few who understood me completely. I didn't even have to say how I was feeling because he just knew - and understood. And he was there, one big arm around my shoulder, ready to listen or say nothing at all. Ready for me to vent or share my excitement. Of course, being so alike also led to us butting heads occasionally. We both shared the same stubbornness and temper! I even miss those too, the random disagreements we would have. Neither of us ever liked to admit if the other were right. I think I'd let him win every time, if I could just have him back.

I miss sharing all those things with him but am thankful for how many there were because they are now precious memories. And all I have left of him.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Father's Love

Tim loved Austin with his whole heart from the moment he found out I was pregnant. I think they made a connection early on, through my belly. He would talk to him each morning and each afternoon and his face filled with joy whenever he felt Austin kick. We thought we were having a girl in those early months and although Tim would never admit it, I know he was pleased to learn he was having a son.

Tim never hesitated on taking care of Austin and didn't mind changing diapers, feeding, or bathing him; in fact, he enjoyed it. He even shared the duty of late night wakings, I think because he looked forward to any chance to spend with him.

From the start, Austin was his little buddy and shadow. Austin tried to do everything just like his Dad and wanted to be like him in every way. Whatever job Tim had at the time, was what Austin wanted to be when he grew up. Of course, the constant was always that he also wanted to be firefighter...just like Dad. I'm grateful that he was given the chance last year. I know they are precious memories for Tim from the times they shared at the station.

I think part of the reason Austin never hesitated in trying things was because Tim never told him he was too young for something. He took Austin fishing before he was old enough to hold a pole. If Tim was building something or working on the car, Austin was right there beside him. Austin began "driving" as soon as he could see over the steering wheel from his Dad's lap. It breaks my heart that Tim will never get to see him drive, never get to ride shotgun with him on the road, and be a part of his driver's test.

The best times Tim spent with Austin though was when they were doing nothing at all. They would spend hours out in our shed, just fiddling around and talking. Austin was the kind, gentle, helpful person he was because of Tim and the lessons shared during those talks. He was the best of Tim in every way.

Tim would have given Austin the shirt off his back, his last dollar, last bite of food, anything he wanted or needed. And he would have given his own life, it would have saved Austin that night. In those moments, all I could do was hold Austin's hand, pray and plead with him to fight. Tim was the one who held it together and tried with every ounce of his soul to save him. I know Tim lives every day, wishing he could have done more, that he would have been able to save him. I hear his screams every day in my head and can only imagine the pain he is carrying.

There is the saying that boys are closer to their mothers - and Austin and I did share a bond, a unique relationship to anyone else. But the bond he and his Dad shared was one of kind. They were kindred spirits, mirror images, and now one is lost without the other.

Monday, February 16, 2009

For Granted

Over the past few days, I've been going through Austin's writings from school. I'm still looking for that essay he was writing about me but the story he wrote about our wreck touched my heart as well.

The story of our wreck is a long essay so I'll just capture some of the lines that touched me most.

"When we arrived there my heart was smashing into my chest. My mammaw and I walked over to the front desk to see where my parents were. The woman told us they were in ICU. (this means Intensive Care Unit) I wasn't sure what to expect, but my heart dropped all the way to the floor when I walked past the curtain. The strongest woman I had ever met was bandaged and broken." (this is my mantra now on days I think I can't make it another step!)

"She was so surprised to see me. She had a broken finger, nose and knee but was smiling and said, "I love you and am very happy to see you." Then we went to see my dad and he informed us he had 3 blood clots. He reassured me that he would be okay and I agreed. The visiting hours were over and as I walked out of the hospital I sighed with relief because I knew my parents were going to be okay. As we left that day and got in the car, I thought of how they nearly died in a motorcycle wreck and realized how I took them for granted all the time. I know if they had died, my life would never have been the same again. That is why I never take them for granted anymore."

I've always believed that things happened for a reason. I never doubted that our wreck was a stop sign in life for us. It forced us to slow down and reprioritize things, to rediscover each other and our boys. It made us closer as a couple, as parents, and as a family. It gave us an opportunity to take a vacation of lifetime and I will never regret the money spent on that Disney cruise - especially now. But it also made our children realize not to take life for granted or those you love, and it made an impression on Austin, even at his young age.

At the time, I was thankful for the "stop sign" and looked forward to the long future I would have with my children. God saved Tim and me and I never once felt I was at a risk of losing a child. I now know that those three years were even more of a gift because we truly used them to the fullest. Each moment, each memory, was a present from God because it would be the last three years we would have with Austin. And the trials we faced through that wreck, certainly strengthened our marriage. We need that strength and foundation now more than ever. I look back over our life and every tragedy has a reason. Right now it is hard to see the purpose from Austin's passing through our tear soaked eyes but I know in time we will. We do, without hesitation, know how precious life is and to not only be thankful for every moment but to use it to its fullest. We will never take each day or each other for granted.

"The cross we bear is a bridge for the dip in the road you can't see but God can."

Friday, February 13, 2009

Valentine Wishes

I hope my love was enough for you.
I hope you still feel it, from all of us.
We are so proud to have been your parents.
We are so proud of the person you were.
You helped so many and you continue to inspire each day.

i miss you Pictures, Images and Photos

This Valentine's Day, we are reminded of your love.
You gave us so much, shared so much love with us.
And you still do.
3 hearts healed Pictures, Images and Photos
We love and miss you with every breath.
love you angel bear Pictures, Images and Photos

Happy Valentine's Day,
Blair Bear

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Undetermined

Austin was healthy for all that we knew. He was active, an athlete, and it never crossed our minds something would happen to him.

His autopsy has been sent for review by at least three specialists. When it was sent it for a second review, we were told we should be prepared for "undetermined". If there is such a way to prepare oneself. Today, we found out the results - at least partially.

Even knowing the answer now, it seems unreal. Austin passed from a viral infection of some kind. (It still may be months before we know exactly what, if ever.) However, what we do know is that it is hard to diagnose, happens quickly, and there wasn't anything we could have done as parents to have prevented it. He walked out the door to ride his bike that evening and in moments, he was gone. Even if he'd been at the hospital when it happened, chances are, he would still be gone. We still don't know all the answers around Austin's death, but sometimes I wonder if that is because God doesn't intend for us to.

However, I think back over Austin's life and the few "close calls" he had. As a parent, you think the first year is the scariest and if you can just make it through that with your child unharmed, they'll be ok. In the end, he passed so quickly, unexpectedly, and without any warning we could see, at a point in his life I felt he was safe.

My pregnancy with Austin was not easy, the last few months I was on bed rest, trying to delay labor. The labor and delivery was difficult and scary, with moments when they could not get a reading on the monitor. When he was born, he had the cord wrapped around his neck and was blue, struggling for air. After the initial scare though, he seemed to pink up and show signs of perfect health.

As a baby, he was healthy, short of the normal colds, viruses, and ear infections. Even when he was sick, he was always smiling. Sometimes it was hard to know he didn't feel well because his attitude was so great! Yet, to look back through his baby book there are very few records of illness.

When he was still in a walker, he had his first accident. His cousin opened the front door and not seeing him, Austin toppled out onto the concrete porch. He bumped his head and broke my heart but wasn't badly injured at all. It was close, could have been worse, and I held my breath in those brief seconds which felt like an eternity.

In preschool, he and I were in a minor wreck that was inches away from being serious. I lost control on the gravel road on the way to my Mom's house. We hit a fence and teetered over a bluff. I had Austin climb over me and out the window, before I risked moving. Luckily, we were both spared without a scratch - but it could have been much worse, had the car moved just a few inches more.

As a child, Austin was very active in baseball but never had any close calls from that sport. He spent one whole season pretty bruised, because for whatever reason, the ball hit him many times. (I think some of the players were fearful of his size and would rather walk him, than risk a hit!) But to be in that type of sport so many years, he never had what you would call a close call and was spared from any injuries.

And I remember tearfully the time he walked away from me at Wal-Mart. He was young, around 5 but too big for the cart, and in an instant he was gone. My heart raced, as I called for him from aisle to aisle. I didn't waste much time though and ran to the checkout so they could page a code Adam. I amazed myself later, recalling how I was able to remain calm enough to describe with detail what he was wearing. A few moments later, an employee brought him up to me. She said she would have brought him right away but it took a few minutes for him to allow it. He told her his Mom told him not to talk to strangers and to never go with someone he didn't know! She had to get two other associates, and show him their vests and ID tags before he agreed. Needless to say, he didn't stray from my side again when shopping!

One of his last "injuries" came from wrestling in the floor with his Dad. It was a daily event between the two and through the years, Austin began to get the best of Tim. In the end, Tim admitted that he was nearly too much to handle, growing stronger than he'd ever imagined. Austin had such stamina you literally had to tell him to stop, or he'd wrestle all night. However, one night we heard a pop, Austin yelled, and we ran to the ER. But he was fine and he, Tim, and the doctor laughed and shared a male-bonding moment. As a mom, I completely didn't understand it and just left, shaking my head. Austin paid him back several months later though and we again travelled to the ER, this time Tim as the patient. I was afraid we'd flag social services but somehow they got the same doctor and again all just laughed and were ok.

To look back, there were moments that it would have made sense for something worse to have happened. Not that I'd ever wish that - I treasure every single moment we had with him! It just doesn't make sense that on a perfectly normal day, when he was feeling fine, that he'd be gone so suddenly. And with no warning. I can only imagine it is God's way of telling us, it was just his plan and Austin's time. I guess it makes those few close calls somewhat precious, when you think of it in that way. Life is so short and fragile and you never know what moment might be your last. It is undetermined, at least for us here on Earth.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

First year memories

From Austin's baby book...and other memories:

When Austin was born Tim made the deal that after he lost his umbilical cord, he'd help with the diapers. I think he thought that took months. He was a little shocked to learn it only took a week!

July 18, 1994 - Austin's first real smile

July 29th - Austin's first laugh

Aug 30th - Austin started "talking"

Oct 14th - Wore his first pair of jeans

Dec 15, 1994 - "It's hard to believe you are almost 6 months old. You're growing so fast! You make "ba" sounds now and sit in your highchair. I could go on forever with the things you've done. You are so smart and always happy. Everyone that meets you falls in love with you instantly. I'm so proud you're my baby!"

Jan 20, 1995 - First time to say "Da Da"

Feb 7th - First sleigh ride in the snow

Feb 21st - "You started doing something cute today. You pretend to be shy. You also fake cough for attention. Last night, your dad had a fire and you heard him on the radio. You tried to talk to him!"

April 7th - "You are such a ham! You dance now and make the funniest face for attention. You can walk with our help. You talk all the time. I cannot believe how smart you are and how fast you are growing!"

July 8, 1995 - "Happy 1st Birthday! I can't believe it has been a whole year. You are walking great now. You blow kisses and make noises when you drive your cars on the floor. For your birthday we decorated the entire room in bears, because you are our little "Blair Bear"!

At one year, Austin loved to play the "Itsy Bitsy Spider". It was a morning ritual. He would wake up and we'd put him in bed with us and sing that song, play, read stories and cuddle. Austin loved Barney, Kidsongs shows and anything on CMT.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Heavenly Call

We were all eating dinner tonight and watching Little House on the Prairie.

It was the show where Laura's little brother had died. (I didn't realize this prior to starting it because I probably wouldn't have otherwise.) Anyway, she runs away and climbs a mountain, trying to get closer to God. She doesn't understand why God hasn't been listening to her prayers and she feels the closer she gets to him, the better the chance he'll hear her. She prays for him to take her instead and bring her brother back. In the end, she realizes God's plan and is reunited with her Dad. It was a beautiful show, although a little hard for us to get through.

In the middle of the show, my husband's phone rang - it was Austin. We all instantly stopped. Tim's phone is programmed to have different songs for each caller. We haven't heard the tone "Bad to the Bone" since Austin passed. But there it was, and Austin's name was on the caller ID. Tim just stared at it for a moment, teary, before answering. I held my breath, not knowing what to expect. It was a wrong number.

Apparently someone already has Austin's old phone number. But tell me, what are the chances they would call Tim? And in the middle of this show? Yet another present from our son, letting us know he is ok and loves us. I am still in awe of how God lets loved ones reach us from beyond.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Found Treasure

When you lose a child, there are constant reminders around your home of them. Sometimes they are comforting, sometimes painful. You may open a drawer and find a toy or gadget of theirs. When doing laundry, another article of clothing may pop up in the wash. Even if you haven't started going through their things in their room, items show up and take you back to a moment, a memory.

I've been working from home this week, due to the weather, and grabbed a notebook nearby to take notes while on a call. After the call, for whatever reason, I began going through the notebook and noticed Austin had used it at some point for school. There were a few math pages, notes for a test, a random doodle or drawing and then my eyes fell on a rough draft of an essay.

It was about me. Just a few short lines but each word so precious. I wish I knew for what class and how to get the full version but I'll happily take the rough draft, no matter how short. I was instantly overcome with emotion, both sadness for my intense loss and warmth and love from him. Who knows why I grabbed that notebook, or how I happened upon that page today, but it was the best gift I've had in some time. Once again, Austin has sent me a present I'll treasure forever.

I'm going to try and add the scan but it is light so I'll also type what he wrote:

"One person has greatly inspired me to do many things. That person is my mom. I admire my mom alot. She is a very Great Role Model. She is always there for me I need her. My mom works for the American Cancer Society. She was the supervisor for the Relay For Life."

7 short lines but they are so precious to me. He wrote this recently, I am guessing spring of 08' by the work that is surrounding it. To know that even as a preteen, he still admired me - to see it in his own words, is indescribable.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I Wonder

There is almost not a moment that I don't miss Austin. Even in a joyous time, which have been rare since his passing, I am instantly reminded of his absence and that he isn't here to experience it. I miss simple, every day things and "normal life" with him. However, I also miss what won't be and what I will never get to experience with him.

Austin was growing so fast and Tim and I knew our years with him at home were on the countdown. He was a freshman and so talk was already beginning of where he would go to college, what he would do and become. As a young child, his list of "what I want to be when I grow up" changed sometimes daily; however, a constant remained - a firefighter.

He was so thrilled to join the Beaver Dam Fire & Rescue as a Junior Firefighter last year. If I would have let him, every waking moment would have been spent at the station. His age frustrated him, in that he was limited in what he could do and where he could go as a firefighter. He was determined to be fully certified before graduating high school. Austin's plans were to possibly join the army in the firefighting/rescue branch or go to college and further his degrees there. He wanted to be a professional, paid firefighter. I know he would have made a wonderful one, and would have made his Dad so proud to have followed in his footsteps. I'm sad he didn't get to do this; however, each time the bell rings for Beaver Dam, I know he is there watching from above and protecting our crew. But I do wonder what kind of firefighter he would have become and how many lives he would have saved.

I wonder how his looks would have changed over time. As I've said before, he grew so fast the past few years. I can look at photos from just a year or so ago and see such drastic changes. Our cruise photos in 2006, still portray a baby face. In the end, he was all but grown up. At over 6 feet tall, with size 13 shoes he was already outgrowing, and a man's voice, I could mistake him for Tim if he walked behind me or was outside working. He was such a handsome teen and I wonder what he would have looked like as a man. However, with age comes pain and so I'm thankful that he never had to experience that. He lived a carefree youth and will always be "forever young" in Heaven.

I wonder what kind of husband and father he would have made. Austin certainly had one of the best as a role model. He had all the best of his Dad and the last day, I even commented about what a good Dad he was going to make someday. Austin was a Christian, a hard worker, was kind and loving, wonderful with kids, and had a great sense of humor. He was all the things you would look for in a spouse - and in a father. I hurt not getting to experience this. I wonder what he would have looked like on his wedding day, what kind of wife he would have found. I wonder what his children, my first grandchildren, would have been like. Tiny copies of someone so wonderful, I am sure. The world is emptier without him in it - and without the family line he would have created.

I wonder most of all what kind of relationship we would have had as adults. I was young when I had Austin so in many aspects, we grew up together. I was looking forward to what kind of adult he would become and how we would be as Mom and Son. I know he would have taken care of me, in any need I would have ever had. I looked forward to vacations and trips we could take together, just the two of us. We never got to take the trip to New York, as planned. I never got to take him to his first symphony or major concert. So many plans and dreams. These were all trips I had envisioned in his future, as he got older. However, he is on the best trip, a permanent vacation, and better than any I could have ever planned. I'm thankful and grateful to God for protecting him and proud for whatever part, as his Mom, that I held in him becoming a Christian. I know he is safer in Heaven and has more wonderful views than any destination on this Earth. I wonder what his days are like now, what he sees, and how many lives he is protecting and saving from above.
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