Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Heaven-Sent Hugs

Yesterday, we started the next fundraiser for the scholarship fund we formed in Austin's memory. When I'm doing work for the "Austin's Legacy Scholarship Fund" I have mixed emotions. I wish that I didn't have to be doing it. I wish he was still here with us. But, I'm proud to do work in his memory and to carry out his legacy. It hurts and it helps all at the same time.

We've had so many people ask us about the t-shirts we had made for our family shortly after losing him. We decided that having a T-shirt fundraiser would be a great way to support the cause and keep Austin's memory alive. Our goal is to see lime green shirts everywhere we go.

The pre-sales started yesterday and I'm already amazed and blessed by the response. Each message and order is like a hug sent from Heaven. It lets us know that people care about us - and love and miss Austin too. We are so thankful to this community and the network of friends and family we have who continue to support us. Aside from the orders, and knowing each shirt is a step closer to an additional scholarship, what brings me the most joy is hearing stories about Austin.

I know many people don't know what to say to a parent who has lost a child. Most of the time, they choose to say nothing, for fear of upsetting them. What I can tell you is that we hurt every day, regardless of something said to us. Hearing Austin's name may bring tears to our eyes and a tug on our hearts but it is comforting too. It is extra special when his name is followed with a story about how he touched their life.

Having a teenager means that a large majority of the time, you really don't know what's going on in their day. Austin was very close to us but I still missed out on a big chunk of his daily life, especially the time he was at school. You raise your children and hope they go out into the world representing good and being who you know they can be. With Austin, I'm continually blessed with the knowledge that he was even more than I expected and the way he lived his life continues to inspire me.

Yesterday I heard from a lady who wanted to order a shirt and knew Austin from school. She wrote just two or three lines but the words she spoke of him will forever hold a place in my heart. She talked of how he helped another child that she worked with and that he was friends with her. She told a story of how he helped picked up this student's books when she dropped them one day. She then said, "I will never forget him. He was a such a kind young man." I don't think she knows how much it meant to hear a story like that!

We raised Austin to take up for "the little guy" and to befriend others some kids might make fun of. From the stories I continue to hear, Austin was kinder than necessary. He stood up for others when the crowd would turn their back or laugh at them. He smiled at a kid who thought nobody knew they existed. He helped. He made a difference. And, he is remembered.

It is my dream that his story continues to be told, to be shared, and that his legacy lives on. I hope that he continues to inspire others and that his love sweeps through us like a gentle breeze, scattering seeds of kindness along the way.


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