In Loving Memory
Friday, December 25, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
The boys were in a funny mood and my camera wasn't cooperating at first. I think we literally took about 20 photos before we made it to some decent ones. In every photo one of the boys would be laughing or looking at the other one, or had their eyes closed, etc. They were very good sports through it all and I remember us all rolling in laughter by the time we snapped the last shot.
The saddest part of losing those photos is that 2007 was our last Christmas with Austin. Never would I have imagined then we'd never have him with us again for another holiday season. I was pregnant with Austin on our first Christmas together so Tim and I have never had a Christmas without him, until last year.
Austin wasn't with us for Christmas 2008 but his passing was so recent, a part of him still lingered. He decorated the trees and the house last year, even placing the angel on the top in bare feet, so everywhere we looked we could feel and see his last gifts to us. This year, as we pulled out those boxes, all that remained was his memory.
I look at Austin's sweet face in the photo above, so full of life and joy, and think about how much happiness he gave us. We miss him so very much and the holidays just aren't the same without him here. There is an empty spot in all of our hearts that he took with him when he left. We will forever miss his loving spirit and the sound of laughter that filled our home whenever he was around.
Austin enjoyed having his cousins at the house for the afternoon. They ate quickly, opened presents, and spent the rest of the time playing in the kids' rooms.
We still spent that evening alone, baking cookies, sitting by the fire snug in our pjs, and watching the excitement from both boys as they counted down the hours til' Christmas morning.
It seemed we spent the majority of our time in our kitchen area so it brought me great joy to look upon this tree. Each ornament had a story behind it and special memory.
2005 was a blessed Christmas because it was the year of our motorcycle wreck. Tim and I were still recovering from our injuries and we were more than grateful to still be here celebrating with our boys. It reconnected all of us and made us appreciate the season - and each other - even more.
I remember truly appreciating every moment with the boys that season. I am ever thankful for that wreck because it really made us stop and enjoy life, appreciate the simple things, and never miss an opportunity to spend time with those we loved.
A yearly tradition of ours was making Christmas cookies, since Austin was big enough to hold a spoon. When he was very little I would pull a chair up in the kitchen for him to reach the counter top.
As he grew older, Austin wanted to make cookies and other goodies as gifts for his teacher. Each year his list got longer and longer, as he'd add bus drivers, secretaries and lunch ladies to his plans.
It tickled him so much to give them each a gift, even if it were only a box of cookies. They were always made with love though and gave us fond memories of spending time together in the kitchen. It was something he never outgrew. Austin's last year with us he was a freshman in high school. He passed away Thanksgiving break but talked that weekend about how many gift boxes he wanted to create.
Hard as it was, I tried to carry on his tradition, making small goody boxes for each of his teachers. I know Austin would have wanted that.
This was the year Austin officially stopped "believing" but he played along so well. Even as he grew older, he never let on differently around Noah. Each year he would ask if we'd wake him early and let him play Santa, which we never allowed. "Santa" still had a few surprises for Austin because you are never to old to believe!
2002 was a tough Christmas because Tim had lost his job just a few weeks before. Austin was so big through it all, letting us know from the beginning we didn't have to get him anything and that he understood. For a child of only 8 he was wise beyond his years. His heart was set though on a Xbox and he was so surprised when "Santa" delivered, thanks to help from family.
Tim's unemployment settlement came through - and arrived the day after Christmas. We were thankful that the money came after the holidays because it helped us remember the true meaning of the season. We were blessed beyond anything money could have purchased.
I captured this shot as they were decorating the tree and it has always been one of my favorites. It became our Christmas card that year. I can't look at the picture without smiling ...followed shortly by tears now. It expresses so much joy and love. Noah loved his big brother from the very beginning. He was - and still is - his hero.
Most memorable gift that year was a 911 set from Mamaw B & Papaw Carl. You wanted to be "just like Dad" and dressed up in it each day. You would pretend to doctor us and tell us what was hurting or broken.