Today, two years ago, is a day in history that we will never be able to forget; it has forever changed our lives. It is the day that our son, Austin, very unexpectedly went to be with Jesus. Even though it has been the most heart-wrenching sorrow that we have ever faced, we have seen God’s hand leading us and have felt Him carrying us through these two years of grief. I have found that writing is healing for me, and I decided to share the letter that I have written to Austin on this two-year anniversary. This day has forever changed our lives, but we have experienced that ALL things DO work out for our good. Even this!
How do I begin to express all the emotions that I feel on a day like today? I have been dreading this day because it still feels excruciatingly painful to me. However, there is no way possible to avoid it. I know that continued healing will come as I embrace this journey, in the midst of the pain. Austin, I miss you immensely! In some ways, it seems like it has been much longer than two years since I have felt that daily hug from you or heard your laughter and teasing fill our home. I can hardly believe that we have been able to survive this long without your daily presence. You see, Austin, you are my firstborn and only son, and you gave me three very special gifts that no one else has ever given to me…
When I first heard your little cry and held you close in my arms, I was in awe of the love that filled my heart. I saw the matchless and everlasting love of my Heavenly Father just a little clearer. I was so overwhelmed by this precious demonstration of His love to me. As you grew and started trying to say your first words, my heart was thrilled as you began calling for “Mama.” This was your first gift to me! You gave me my first priceless gift of motherhood.
I loved to care for you, and it nearly broke my heart when I had to helplessly sit in agony and watch as you faced your numerous health challenges. I don’t know of anyone else who survived not only two heart transplants, but also two deadly cancers-all by the time you were 16 years old! I am still amazed at the grace of God that was so evident in your life. I never once heard you complain about all your hospital experiences and pain, rather, you were always so optimistic and thankful for what you had. Because of you, I saw that suffering, grace, and royalty (as God’s children) are so much more than what our human eyes can see. I still can’t help but cry when I picture you sitting in your hospital bed as a happy, peaceful, sixteen-year-old awaiting your second heart transplant. Even though you were dependent on the IV medicine to keep you alive, your joy and happiness was in NO WAY dependent on your circumstances. Austin, you chose to live ABOVE your circumstances, and because of your faithfulness, we have seen so many people drawn to the Lord. I can only imagine the reward you are experiencing in Heaven! You showed me such a clear picture of what God’s grace looks like. This, my dear son, is another gift that I will always treasure and hold near to my heart.
My heart was crushed countless times when I wanted to take your pain from you, but couldn’t. It seemed extremely unfair for me to be healthy and pain-free, while you were suffering. I begged God to allow me to carry your pain so you wouldn’t have to, but He never granted my plea… until now. Now I realize that He has done just that. As I am typing these words with tears streaming down my face, I am again carrying the intense pain that threatens to suffocate me. However, I am also thrilled with the realization that YOU are now healthy and pain-free, enjoying the most wonderful and indescribable life in the presence of Jesus. I can see you laughing and dancing with the angels as you glorify your “Daddy” for always carrying you through your difficult trials. I know, Austin, that you are also helping Jesus prepare for our family’s “home-coming”. We are all greatly longing for that glorious day! The third gift that you have given to me is the gift of a greater longing for Heaven. Although God still gives me purpose for each day He allows me to live here, I live with a much greater awareness and longing for eternity.
God’s grace has now taken on a complete new meaning to each of us. We miss you, Austin, with each breath that we breathe, yet we are so grateful for God’s goodness to us. We have seen how God has been taking our suffering and tears and has been making something beautiful out of our devastation and loss. God’s purpose and plan is so much greater than our brief time here on earth.
As you look down from Heaven and see us continuing to cry because of missing you, I hope you can also see that we are committed to the fact that God is still good and bigger than even THIS mountain. Each of us are convinced of this without a shadow of a doubt.
We will continue to cry because we miss you. I will continue to feel your hugs as I go to sleep each night, wrapped in the blanket that you gave me. However, most of all, I will continue to feel secure as I rest in the embrace of my Heavenly Father. He is still in control, and He is worthy of my trust!
I can hardly wait until God calls each of us to Him, and we can worship Jesus together. Until then, we will continue our feeble attempts to worship as best as we can while you worship Jesus so perfectly and completely. Until then…I will savor these gifts from you.
I love you!