Thursday, June 30, 2011

One Small Sticker

Several years ago, Tim and I were behind a vehicle with a memorial sticker on the back window.  We commented how we didn't know if we could do that, as we'd be saddened by the constant reminder.  Never did I imagine that we'd be ordering decals of our own to remember our son, Austin, just two years ago.  In reality, with child loss, you need no reminder...the loss is ever-present.  The comfort by which this sticker brings though was and is unexpected.  When I'm driving and glance through my rear view mirror, the sticker is visible, with Austin's name shining back at me.  Seeing his name makes me feel as if a part of him is there.  Even though I already know that to be true.

Austin was always quick to call "shotgun" whenever we would drive anywhere.  As he grew older, his size nearly demanded it.  At only 14, he had already surpassed his dad and me in height.  With those broad shoulders and long legs, he seemed to hover over all of us - and he loved every minute of it.  Tim actually felt guilty when we'd ride together, somewhat forcing Austin to take the backseat.  Even though we both drive SUVs, the space in the back just couldn't comfortably contain our sprouting boy.

Being on the road is a difficult time when you're grieving.  I remember those first few months after he passed, and sobbing the entire way to work and back home.  Every single day.  It was lonely in the truck, and if anything, it felt the only time I could release all the sadness my heart would swell with each hour without him.  Even now, I find driving to be hard and I wish that my sweet boy would be sitting co-pilot beside me, lovingly reaching his arm around mine to hug me or singing to favorite songs with him on the radio.  And though I know his seat may be empty, I still feel his spirit with me regularly.  Each time I glance at his sticker, warmth passes over me as if I can hear him whisper, "I Love You, Mom."

Now, when I see other stickers, I will pause and pray for the passengers inside.  No matter the age or the time that has spanned since their passing, I know prayers are forever needed in families of child loss.  I ask God to bring them peace and to lift them up in warmth and love so that they may know and feel His presence.  Though strangers, we share a connection on the road in that moment, and I carry them in my thoughts throughout that day.

I also notice others reading Austin's memorial sticker when they are behind me in traffic.  I often wonder what goes through their minds.  Sometimes I can see the sadness in the eyes, in the realization of his age at his passing.  Sometimes I'll see a couple exchange glances in their vehicle after reading it, maybe thanking God for the blessings they have.  Sometimes I'll catch a parent reading it, then see them look in the backseat at their children and can almost feel their thankful prayer being sent up.  Perhaps it is a way to not only remember Austin but help others realize how precious and short this life is and how we should all make every moment count.  That's certainly something Austin would've make a difference with one small sticker.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful words Heather.

My heart goes out to you every day.

I have many friends who have lost their kids to cancer and I always feel like I fail them somehow by being on the outside of that world.

I love them and pray for them all the time but just feel like I wish I could do more to be there for them.

I am sure that Austin is always smiling when he sees how you honor and remember him in every little thing you do.

I wish I would have had the chance to know him but I do feel like I almost did through your postings.

God bless you and your family.

Love & prayers,

Johna & family

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