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.