When I look back on pictures of Austin from 2008, many things go through my mind. Immediately I'm taken back to that moment in time and I wish I could enter the photo just to see him again. I browse the snapshots and think of how it was our "last ___" with him. ....the last birthday Noah will have his big brother there, our last Easter with him, last family vacation...
In the beginning of 2008, I think I was subconciously gathering our family together more often. We were having more Sunday dinners and family breakfasts with the grandparents. More weekend road trips and mini vacations. I declined a lot of "extras" that year too, anything I thought took my time away from the boys. I felt the need to widdle life down and just enjoy schedule-free nights.
That year, I created the first "Family Game Day" from a copy of Noah's birthday theme that January. His friends, and the family there, had such fun having a variety of games to play. I thought it would be a great way for extended family to get together, a reunion of sorts. Instead of planning just a potluck meal, we made an entire day of it.
We rented out a local banquet room and designated each table with a different game. Whether you enjoyed Rook, Twister, Scrabble, or just being an observer, there was a table for everybody. It was held in March and the weather was still cool so it sort of forced everyone to commit to the day. Each family brought food - too much of course - and we snuggled in for a long day of family fun.
I remember Austin being so excited about the day, as he loved any chance to play games and be with family. He was a Rook playing fanatic and looked forward to a family tournament. Anytime I looked at him that day, he was smiling or laughing, so happy in the moment.
We all were. And he helped capture many of those moments. Several of the photos from that day were taken by him. I look at our family's smiles now and can imagine them looking at Austin. The light in their eyes shows the love they all had for him. How could we have ever imagined it would be our "last family day" like that with him?
We intended to get together over the summer but schedules get busy to match with vacation plans. Sadly, we wouldn't all be together as a group that big again until Austin's funeral.
I'm just so grateful that we did have that family game day. And that, on whatever level, my nesting instinct kicked in that year, and allowed us to have even more precious memories of time with Austin.