Tim and I rode around this weekend, just the two of us. The weather was beautiful and we had the sun roof open. We had just visited Austin's grave for the the first time together since his monument has been installed. The ride was quiet for awhile, as we were deep in thoughts, memories and sadness.
I could feel Austin with us though. We began reminiscing how much he loved to go for a ride. It didn't matter where, he just loved going for drives through the countryside. We'd crank the radio up and let the wind blow through our hair, enjoying the scenery.
During our ride, certain songs would come on that either had a message we needed to hear or were favorites of his. At one point, we passed a country road that had his name on the sign. He seemed to be with us everywhere we looked.
Later, we went down a road we've been down so many times but were again reminded of him. It is a very hilly road with dips and curves and can make your stomach flip if you are driving fast enough. Tim and I laughed, remembering the first time it happened to Austin. He was little, still in a booster seat. Tim winked at me before he approached the hill and I knew what he planned to do. I turned in my seat to watch Austin's face and Tim moved the rear view mirror so he could also see. We hit the dip and instantly Austin's expression changed. I still chuckle, as I can picture his little hands grabbing on to his car seat as his face and stomach dropped. Once he realized it was nothing bad, he loved it and would ask to make the dips every time we took that road.
I am reminded of Austin every time we get in our trucks. If I am alone, I miss him sitting next to me as my co-pilot. He spilled over into the seat, all arms and legs, head reaching the ceiling. I often wondered how long I had until he outgrew our vehicles. If I'm taking Noah somewhere, I remember the constant arguments of who got to sit up front. The past year or so, Austin almost always was allowed up front for the simple fact that was so tall. I felt bad for him when he sat in the back because his knees were practically up to his ears. And if we're going somewhere as a family, we are saddened because anywhere we are going, we miss that he isn't there with us. Tim normally drives and so in my position on the passenger side, I had eye contact with Austin in his seat. It is now empty and I know each of us feels sorrow when we see it.
The empty seat is much like our hearts these days. There is a hole in each of our hearts; they still function but are different and heavier.