I commute about 40 minutes each way to work. My ride time is usually spent talking to God- and to Austin, especially in the afternoons. I try to save those talks for the ride home, because my family doesn't care if my mascara runs!
I pray during that ride for our family to survive this tragedy, to find hope and inspiration. I pray for strength to carry on, because most days all I want to do is go back to bed. I know though that Austin wouldn't want me to give up. He said once, "I was the strongest women he ever knew" and I will always keep that close to my heart. When I feel I can't go another step, that is what carries me through.
I keep a picture of him on my dash and it is in my line of sight when I drive. It is a casual picture of him, in a rare actual pose for the camera. He has the sheepish half-smile that he showed so often. He looks happy and at peace in the photo. And it seems as if he is looking right into my eyes. As crazy as it may look to other drivers, I talk to the photo - to him.
Most days, it is to tell him how much I love and miss him. I wonder if I told him enough while he was here. It is something we said to each other every day but I still worry. I tell him that I won't forget him and that I'm doing all I can to make sure nobody else does either. And sometimes it is like I hear him speaking back to me. Maybe it is in a whisper of "It's ok, Mom" that I just feel in my heart. Maybe it is a song that comes on the radio at just the right moment. A song that was special to us - or that says something I need to hear. Or maybe my phone will ring with someone checking on me, just because, and I wonder if he urged them to call.
Today, I wasn't saying much out loud at all but a dozen thoughts were going through my head. I was glancing back at his photo off and on and as always, the tears were streaming, releasing what I'd held in for the day. I could find nothing on the radio to suit me and was about to switch to my trusty "Casting Crowns" cd when the radio said, "PS, this is Austin".
It is a country song that really has nothing to do with Austin at all, other than the name. When he was younger he thought it was cool the song had his name in it. As he grew older, it got on his nerves when we'd sing it to him. At any rate, I just felt him in that moment. I knew he was speaking to me, telling me it was going to be "ok" as he always did when he was here. I know he wants that, for us to be ok and to be better. And while my mind knows he is ok, my heart is having a harder time listening. My heart feels his whispers though and is getting stronger, or at least trying, for him.
And as that song says, "PS..if this is Austin, I still love you."
And I do.