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.