Friday, July 8, 2016

Day 8: Austin's Birthday

On some level, I'm sure that this joyful challenge for July came because my heart knew of this upcoming date.

Time heals but it also makes the heart ache more for missing someone gone so long.  Our oldest left this earth at the too-young age of 14, so it is unfathomable that at this point he would be grown.  

Today Austin would be 22.  

My mind can't even stretch fully around that knowledge.  I see him in the grown-up schoolmates we cross paths with and those we're still connected to.  

Even Noah has come to realization how old his big brother would really now be.  He sees it in their neighbor-pal, who is now a married adult with a baby and another on the way.

In my mind, they should still all be piled up in Austin's playing video games.  Or camping out in the backyard.  Or scaring each other with spooky stories and wild imaginations in the shed, known as their clubhouse.  

Our world stopped at that sweet in between age of boy and man.  So it is difficult to imagine him at the stage of college graduate, working adult, potentially husband or father.

That's a world we will never get to know.

And so today especially, joy can be hard to find.  This is a day where we ponder on missed joys.  Of what could have been, the what if's and if only's.  On his birthday those thoughts are impossible to push away.

Joy after loss is so very difficult and I've found it can truly only come from God.  It's the only answer for why I'm still standing, even on days I feel like crumbling into the floor.

Though I still miss him with every fiber of my soul and went to bed sobbing last night, I am at a place where I can find joy in the memory of him.  Hearing someone speak his name no longer makes my eyes twinge with tears.  I can laugh about funny stories of Austin and share remember whens.  And I can be in a moment thinking either how much Austin would enjoy it or knowing he'd be proud looking down.

So on his birthday, my joys come from the memories we have of Austin.

Of recalling birthdays past and how much he loved a party, because he relished any time he could spend with family.  Every year his request was the same - cookout in the backyard, surrounded by those he loved.  How I miss that smile, his booming laugh and those giant bear hugs.

Happy Birthday in Heaven, sweet boy.  You brought more joy to our lives than you'll ever know.

In my job I see babies and toddlers at their homes.  The past two days, I can't describe the joys they've brought me.  I've always said, and I tell the mommas I visit, that babies have a sixth sense.  They pick up on emotions even when we think we're doing a good job of hiding them.  Every single baby I've visited in the past 24 hours has reacted to me in a way of which I can only describe as God-sent hugs.

Some that are normally shy have run right up to me, arms open wide, wanting me to pick them up.  Others have bounced right over.  All have wrapped their arms around my neck, laid their sweet heads on my shoulder and patted my back.

Thank you, Lord, for sending a little piece of Heaven my way on days I need it most.

If you're new, you can visit Austin's blog for birthday stories from the 14 years we were blessed to have him here.  


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