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.