Friday, November 4, 2016

THANKS-giving comes

We lost Austin eight years ago, Thanksgiving weekend.  As such, November is a bittersweet time, filled with emotions and memories, some of which we'd rather forget.  Instead of focusing on the pain of the season though, we lean hard into the kindness and gratitude that comes with the turning of the calendar.

The year after he passed, I challenged myself to post something I was thankful for every single day of November.  As the days drew closer to the 29th, I questioned whether or not I would be able to post something positive when my heart was still shattered.  Once accomplished, it forever changed me; because it was proof that despite the circumstances life may send your way, there is always, always something to be grateful for.  

Aside from posting gratitude in each day, we also use this month to do Random Acts of Kindness in Austin's memory.  It has grown from doing it only on the 29th, to celebrating kindness all month, to truly having a heart for it all year.  

Noah shared with me a couple weeks ago that the past several times he's stopped into a local fast food joint, someone has paid it forward to him.  And while he admitted he sometimes gets surprised in the moment and forgets to continue the trend in that line, he makes sure to send anonymous kindness in other ways to keep it going.  Or sometimes he starts the movement.  I can't even begin to tell you how that made my heart swell.  

When we began doing RAKs, I was hesitant in including Noah, unsure if it would cause him more pain than good.  Instead, it helped bring healing to us all in a way I could've never imagined and became a family event we actually look forward to.  Helping others, bringing a smile to someone's face in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, is a far better way to spend that anniversary, than reliving the horror of losing our boy.

Austin had such a servant's heart, I can only imagine how happy it would make him to see us doing RAKs in his memory.  This time of year, he would already be asking to stock up on supplies so we could make treats for every person he knew - from mailman, to bus driver, to every school employee he came in contact with.  And the legacy he left behind for his friends is one that helped others.  A Christmas box remains wrapped in our living room, filled with notes from classmates who shared just that - how he made small differences with big impact every single day.

He's been on my mind a lot lately, probably the timing of the year, combined with the constant news of the World Series.  I haven't really watched baseball on tv, since he's been gone, but we have this season.  So many times, sitting on the edge of my seat, I could envision him pacing the floor, enthusiastically yelling, freaking out if we'd changed the channel, and celebrating the win.  How I miss that contagious smile and personality!

Losing a child is daily reality of how fragile life is, how much every day matters - what a gift it is, and hoping they are remembered in some way.  My prayer is that we make him proud this time of year - and always.


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