There isn't a moment that Austin isn't on my mind, in some way. As with my heartbeat, it is always there, lingering in the background. Some days are harder, some minutes unbearable, and others are just the every day numbing pain you learn to live with.
First thing in the morning and last thing at night, are two of the hardest times in any given day for me. In the morning, as I walk past his closed door to wake up Noah for school, I am instantly reminded. It is a pause in my day, from the very beginning. A reminder of our loss. Abrupt and painful, it hits me, forcing me to remember and start the waking nightmare I live each day all over again.
It was a daily routine to open his door first. Actually, we woke Austin up 30 minutes before, allowing him to have time to shower and Noah to sleep a little longer. Never did I wake up Noah before Austin though. So, walking past Austin's door without being able to open it and find him sleeping, arms and legs dangling to the floor, isn't normal. Such a simple, every day activity, a habit, a way of life, that is forever ripped from me.
I often watched him sleeping, as it was about the only chance I got to really look at him. He was changing so much; especially the past couple of years, transforming into a man before my eyes. During the day, if he caught me looking, he would turn away -or walk away! - and comment in some funny or snide remark that it wasn't polite to stare.
Waking him up got easier with his age, instead of harder as I'd expected. He used to sleep so soundly we'd joke that a train could drive through his room and wouldn't wake him. Later, all I had to do was say his name and he was up. Of course the running joke then was how long he took a shower. We seriously think he found a way to go back to sleep standing up, shower running. As the only woman in the house, he exceeded me on shower time by a long shot.
And my day ends, just as it begins. Yet another pause, a rude reminder of my loss. My last moments each night were hugging and kissing my boys. It often happened a couple of times, as we would kiss the boys good-night on our way to bed and inevitably they would follow us, or come back to our room to say something.
Almost every night before I closed my eyes, Austin was there at my side, leaning over to kiss me good-night. Actually, he would appear at our doorway, lingering to make sure we hadn't already fallen asleep. If we answered him, he would say good-night again and "I love you" to us both. He'd then come into the room and kiss and hug Tim. He'd tease me, acting like he was walking out without doing the same. I'd have to fuss and yell, he would laugh, and circle our bed, coming to my side. My last memory of Austin each night would be of him bending down, wrapping his one arm around me, and hugging me good-night.
But those moments are now just memories. Unwelcome pauses in my life. Painful reminders of a life lost.