I've wanted to write, but feel like no matter what words I choose, I just can't communicate what I'm trying to say. I don't even know exactly what I'm trying to say.
Wednesday morning, I woke up to a text from one of my very best friends, my Maid of Honor in my wedding - stating that her husband had been in a bad accident, and she was on the way to the hospital and she didn't know anything yet.
At first, I felt like I was still asleep, that I must certainly be dreaming.
But, then, my aunt also called me from work, wanting to make sure that I knew.
For a second, I was stunned. Certainly, this wasn't happening again - to someone who had survived an accident which led to a coma nine years ago, to someone whose first baby is due on Christmas Day.
I learned of Sean's passing moments later.
I just sat there in complete disbelief and then started to sob.
How could this be?!
I finally made it to my hometown the following night. Finally.
Finally getting to hug my friend and just hold her because I certainly had no words.
My time at home was sort of a blur, but I'll tell you what I walked away with:
Sean Austin was remembered for his smile.
He was always with a smile. Always seeming to go with the flow.
He loved my friend like a husband should love his wife - like God loves the church. He loved her daughter, and called her his own. He loved to make other people smile. He wanted to be a good husband, and a good father. He was a hard worker - at his job and at home. He loved people. And, he loved Jesus.
Amber, Sean, and their daughter were reading from Acts the night before Sean's death. They were reading about Philip, the apostle, who was one of Jesus' earliest followers, and who left behind his old life to answer Jesus' call.
This is exactly how I think of Sean. He left behind his old life to hang out with Jesus more and everyday he wanted to get to know him better.
At Sean's funeral service, the pastor spoke of Acts & Philip, just as Sean and Amber had so recently done in their own home.
The next day, at a church an hour away, a friend of ours also listened to a Sunday service about guess what? ... Acts & Philip.
It is times like this that I am comforted in knowing that God doesn't "do" coincidences. Everything has a purpose. We will not always know the purpose, or understand it, or even come near to understanding it.
And if I had to pick two words to describe this whole weekend, they would be 'legacy' and 'love'.
Sean left a legacy of love - love of Jesus, love of people, love of his family, love of life.
And the whole county just felt ... cozy this weekend.
Surrounded by love and warmth.
People drove for hours, flew in, and waited over two hours in line to see the family and offer their condolences and to share their memories of what an awesome person Sean was.
This is a photo I took of the sun setting as we waited in line with friends at Sean's visitation:
I saw people this weekend that I have not seen in 10 years.
And I hugged them, and I felt safe.
I stayed at Amber's house into the wee hours of the morning, with other friends that I haven't seen in too, too long. And, Amber said, "Sean would have loved this. Just us, here, hanging out, talking."
And, seeing so many high school friends this weekend made me realize how much I take for granted. And, I thought, I need to be more intentional with my relationships. I need to make time to keep up relationships.
This weekend was the first time in a year that I haven't thought about my own troubles. That I haven't thought about babies. And jobs. And the "what if's".
Instead, I thought, "Thank you, Lord! Thank you for all these friends. All this love. All this support. Thank you for my own precious husband. Thank you for our health. Thank you for showing us who YOU are. Thank you for never leaving us. Thank you for being our hope."
Two things I read this weekend from friends, or friends of friends really stood out to me:
One is the idea that God won't give us more than we can handle.
Often, you will hear people say that - that God won't give you more than you can bear. But the thing is, I can say that I would have gotten through nothing- not one single thing in this life, if not for God being there with me. Getting me out of bed everyday. Supporting me. Comforting me. Listening to me. There have been times when my prayers weren't words, but just tears. Wet, sobbing, ugly-face tears. And that made me feel better because I knew God could hear me. I wasn't "handling" anything - God was.
The other thing was sparked by a CS Lewis quote:
“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own’, or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life – the life God is sending one day by day: what one calls one’s ‘real life’ is a phantom of one’s own imagination.”
The "interruptions" are life. That's what life is. Weathering the storm. Trusting Jesus to get you through it.
And I got to thinking, (yes, I think a lot) ...
What kind of legacy will I leave behind? How will people remember me? Will they remember someone who smiled, and made the best of it? Or will they remember somebody who focused on the negatives and worried all the time? Will they remember somebody who trusted Jesus, no matter what? Will they remember somebody who was caring and patient? Or somebody with a short fuse who could never be at peace?
Obviously, none of us is perfect. But, Sean's life was a reminder that time and people shouldn't be taken for granted. Sean lived, loved, and smiled.
He was an awesome person, and I feel incredibly blessed to have known him.
I am so thankful that God chose him to take care of my girl, Amber, and her daughter.
Amber & Sean knew each other their whole lives, but didn't date until their late 20's. Funny how the Lord shows us things when it's time.
Here we all are in high school, and again at a football game, just a few of the many awesome memories I have been blessed to have.
We love you, Sean!