For those of you who don't know me, I am Brittany and Allison's mom. Prior to moving to Bellingham, Washington in 2010, we lived in Huntington Beach, California for over 20 years. One of the great joys of living there was watching our girls grow up with such wonderful friends. During high school Austin was a frequent presence in our home. My memories of him are ones filled with joy and laughter. I always knew when Austin had been there because he took great delight in unscrewing the bedknobs off of Brittany's bed and hiding them in imaginative places all over our house. It often took us days to locate them. If Brittany's bed had the bedknobs missing I knew Austin had been there! Like everyone who knew him, he is always in my thoughts and my heart. I am happy that the last time I saw him was when he came with Brittany to our home in Bellingham. He was a joyous presence here as he always was in HB.
Austin was very much in my thoughts last week as my husband and I traveled to the east coast. Along with having a wonderful visit with Allison and Jeremy in New York City, we also traveled to Boston. As we walked in the city I could feel Austin there. His spirit was with us as we traveled in this city that he loved. We came back to Bellingham the day before Mother's Day and of course the first anniversary of the loss of Austin.
Brittany and I drove down to Seattle on Mother's Day. We had a great day of shopping, eating delicious chowder and buying bunches of flowers at Pike Place Market. Last June a 175 foot ferris wheel called "The Great Wheel" was built at pier 57 at the Seattle waterfront. The wheel extends 40 feet out over the water and on a clear day you can see the city skyline including the Space Needle, the Olympic Mountains, Mount Rainier and beautiful Puget Sound. I have been trying to get Brittany to go with me since it was built. I am definitely not the most adventurous person in the world, but I thought this was something that I could actually do! Well, we did it on May 12 and the view was amazing. I marveled at how blessed I was to have been able to stand on both coasts in the span of a week. To look at Boston harbor and think of Austin there. Then to look down from The Great Wheel at Puget Sound and remember this day one year ago. As we were leaving Brittany said to me, "a little better than our shopping trip last year, huh?", recalling our vain attempt to mark Mother's Day on that horrible weekend one year ago.
She was absolutely right. While our hearts still ache, this is exactly where Austin would want us to be, high atop Puget Sound taking in the view and "doing it for the story". It was "a little better than last year". And I pray for all of you who loved Austin, that you can find joy in each day and that gradually it will get "a little better".
-- Genie Koenker