With Easter approaching, I'm filled with memories of Austin and that holiday, as memories are the only way I can have him near me.
Those snapshots in time are still so vivid, like photographs in my mind. They are of him as a little boy, looking so handsome in Easter outfits for church. As a toddler, he loved dressing up for church and the outfits always made him look like a little man.
They are of coloring eggs, which he always loved to do. I see an array of coffee cups across the kitchen table, covered with newspaper. Each cup containing a vibrant spring color, which would rise to the top when an egg was placed inside. I see his smiling face as he discovered the changing colors, from a plain white egg to a mini, edible masterpiece. He loved to write on the eggs with white crayons and watch the words magically appear while they bathed in colored cups.
I still see him on his first Easter, in a cute striped jumper, sitting in the tall spring grass. He was still to young to really understand the concept of hunting eggs but we laughed as he picked one up and put it to his mouth. Why use a basket when you could just eat them? He didn't know the shell had to come off first! I can close my eyes and remember his little legs, sometimes the same length as the grass he was hunting through, running and searching for colors among the green.
As he grew older, he enjoyed hiding the eggs for the younger kids. Our last Easter together, he hid dozens of plastic eggs outside our house, some filled with chocolate, some money, for his brother and cousins. He did a great job hiding them on various levels, as the ages spread from 6 to pre-teen. And I can remember him with his Mamaw June, always excited for her neighborhood egg hunt. One year, he was lucky enough to find the prize egg for age and was rewarded with a large, oversize basket filled with goodies. What he most looked forward to on those hunts was the hot dog cookout afterwards. He and his cousins would line up on the sidewalk in front of June's apartment, eating the first hot dog of the season, sun shining down on them.
My memories are of moments on the couch, Easter mornings, to view the baskets the Easter bunny brought. Eyes bright with wonder at the basket filled with shiny fake grass, full of colorful candies, chocolate bunnies and stuffed animals. As he grew older the baskets changed, including the latest DVD releases or favorite music cds. The Easter bunny gave a big upgrade last year, leaving the Rock Band (video game) in the living room as a surprise. Of course, at 14 Austin had long surpassed the bunny phase but he did enjoy getting that holiday treat!
And while for many children the meaning of Easter is sometimes lost in chocolate treats and fuzzy bunnies; I am filled with hope knowing that Austin understood the true meaning. In 2002, Austin became a Christian and it was among my proudest moments for him as his mother. This Easter will be hard not having him here but knowing he is celebrating this blessed holiday with his Lord makes it easier.