This weekend, our family team had several fundraisers for Relay. We held them during the Strawberry Festival in our hometown. There was a great turnout for both, raising over $600 for the American Cancer Society.
One of the fundraisers was a cornhole tournament, as that was one of Austin's favorite games. The other was a Wii tournament. Of course, everything we do is to honor Austin's memory; however, we were pleasantly surprised to see the festival brochures printed "In memory of Austin Blair" this year.
Tim and I had lunch earlier in the month at a local cafe and noticed the brochures at the register. I just happened to glance at the front cover and see my baby's name displayed. We both left the restaurant teary-eyed. We had no idea they were going to do that and it surprised us both.
Memorial Day, we got a phone call asking us to be at the stage around 5 p.m. Noah, Tim and I showed up, along with some other family members. They called us to the stage and presented us with a plaque, from the Strawberry Festival, remembering and honoring Austin. They talked about his service to his community and how the community's loss was Heaven's gain. It was beautiful and we felt blessed accepting the plaque on his behalf. I am still so amazed at the number of lives he touched.
Friday night, I was again surprised by one of Austin's friends. A boy was headed my direction from the crowd and I figured he was going to ask a question or purchase something. Instead, he bent down and hugged me. I didn't recognize him at first. The kid that grew up playing baseball with Austin was towering over me, nearly grown, with the muscles of a football player and gently hugged me. He asked how I was doing and showed me a temporary tattoo he'd just had put on his arm. It was Austin's initials. He said he'd have a real one in six months, when he became old enough.
I think about Austin's friends a lot. I know they are hurting. I hear from some of them through Myspace, some through their parents and some through chance encounters like last night. When I was their age, I never lost anyone close to me, much less someone so young. It is something that we as adults struggle to understand and cope with everyday so I can't imagine how they handle it. It touches me though that he made such an impact in their lives and that he is still missed by them.
We went into the holiday expecting it to be very difficult - and there were moments that were hard, there were tears that were shed. However, I can say I have been blessed and touched by these sweet surprises this weekend as we and others remembered Austin and his life.