Sunday, October 9, 2011

Family Reunion

Today was bittersweet. We had a historically large family gathering, and of course, anytime we're all together like that there is an obvious absence. Austin loved being with family, whether it was one or two, or a huge crowd. In fact, our first "Family Game Day" was held our last year with him. Maybe that's what makes days like today so hard, and so special, all at the same time. They remind us of Austin and swell our hearts with memories, as well as fill our eyes with tears from the loss; but they also push us to stay together and there's an ever-lingering presence, as we know he's watching over us proudly.

If Austin were here today, he'd been among the first to go help set up, with his strong arms and back lifting tables and chairs to prepare the room. The many trips I made to my truck, loading and unloading, would have certainly been decreased as he'd been right there without me asking. Upon anyone pulling into the drive, he would've met them at their door, ready to give those giant bear hugs and then haul anything in they might need. He would've snuck bites of food from any dish that came in which contained something he liked. And he would've gotten away with it, as all he'd have to do is break out his smile or puppy dog eyes.

There'd been a Rook game started before everyone even had a chance to sit down. All the babies in the room would've had a constant sitter, as I know he'd have had a lap full or been chasing them in the yard. That beautiful big laugh would've been heard a dozen times through the course of the day. He'd of challenged every willing body to a cornhole game outside, smiling whether he won or lost. He would've made old friends with any new face, listening to the stories from the grown-ups table or patiently playing a game with the kids.

And yet, in so many ways I felt Austin today...from the beautiful painted skies that greeted me good morning and said the lingering hugs by family or the smiles on their faces as they arrived...from the butterfly balloons someone hung by the front gate to guide those traveling long distances the warmth and joy of laughter and love throughout the day.  He may not have been there physically but he was certainly present in our hearts and minds.

I'm thankful our family made the effort to organize this day.  We realize how precious each day is and how important togetherness is, regardless of the time and miles it takes to meet.  It was a true blessing to spend the day with each other.  My Great Aunt Gladys, 84 years young, perhaps summed it best as she left with, "If I don't see you again (here), I hope I see you up (there)!" 


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