Last night the family gathered for a backyard BBQ, just like we used to on Austin's birthday weekend. It would've been his 16th birthday and even though I worried it would be too hard; I knew it was something he would've wanted us to do.
I don't know if it was the many prayers said for us by family and friends, Austin looking down and blessing the night, or a mixture of both; but it was amazing. The entire day I was filled with his presence and a positive energy. I looked forward to family arriving and celebrating the life of such a special person.
The only thing that concerned me was the weather. I watched the forecast all week and Friday's forecast was full of rain - not just rain but thunderstorms. An 80% chance of heavy storms to be exact, right between 5-6 pm, which was when the party was scheduled to start.
The skies were gloomy most of the day and the deck got soaked a few times. I held off setting out any of the chairs or yard games, unsure of what the weather would do. And then, out of nowhere, the sky cleared and the sun came out shining right on time. It was as if Austin was smiling down on me - and the celebration. The entire night was beautiful and couldn't have been more perfect, as far as the weather was concerned.
Right as the family gathered on the deck, a tiny sprinkling of rain misted us from a clear sky above, just for a moment. Mom said it must've been tears of joy from Austin, seeing us all together to remember him. I could certainly feel him hugging us all, see his big bright smile, hear him laughing at the bad throws in cornhole or his uncle's bad jokes. He was all around us and it was wonderful.
It wasn't the Sweet 16 I dreamed for him. How I wish he had been there in person, so we could wish him Happy Birthday and shower him with presents and love. But, he made sure, as he always did, that we had a fantastic family time. And I know, without a doubt, he could feel the love we had for him, and always will have.
We'll never forget you, Austin. Keep smiling down on us, sweetie.