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.