Noah is walking around the neighborhood, collecting money for Relay. I can't help but be taken back to memories of Austin doing the same thing at the age of 9.
Just as with Austin, it was entirely Noah's own doing to raise money. He's asked for several weeks to go door to door and I've hesitated - partly because I'm overly protective of him now and partially because I knew it would bring back memories and tears.
Being involved in Relay is on one hand so painful this year and on the other healing. Painful because I am always reminded of Austin's absence. He would be so excited this time of year, planning our family car wash and other fundraisers. We would have drawn out campsite ideas and he would have drafted his yearly request letter that we mailed to friends and family by now. As with any activity, it is emptier and difficult to participate in without him here.
However, I know Austin is smiling down on us with everything we do for Relay. I've spent over a decade of my life dedicated to this cause and it has always been more than just a "job" for me. My passion passed down into my children naturally and I am proud of them for taking that torch. I imagine he is proud too of his little brother, following in his footsteps.
Austin left such a legacy behind - of servant hood, of compassion for others, and of living each day to the fullest. He will forever be my hero. And, while I recognize and love Noah for the qualities that are unique to him; I am thankful and blessed that he shares some of the best of Austin.
As I sit on the back deck and watch my little guy, purple bucket in hand, knocking on the neighbor's doors, I am filled with a sense that Austin is right here beside me and proud of us both.