Well this is not something I’ve ever really talked about on here, but I feel that now is a better time than ever. As many of you know I have felt great loss in my life, I have also felt unbelievable amounts of blessings. It’s life what else could I ask for? Well my time of loss are no greater than anyone else’s, however there is one person that I’ve lost that has effected me unlike any other. This loss shook my world, and honestly if it hadn’t been for the community around me, I don’t know that I would’ve ever been able to begin to heal. So without further delay this is a very defining moment of my story.
When I was very young, I’d say around five years old I had an amazing encounter with someone who would change my life for forever. I was getting ready to go to a church camp in West Virginia. I had never been super involved in church, but my grandmother wanted us to get more involved with Jesus, and that kind of stuff. Well I was of course late as I always was as a child because my family had their own definition of time. So when I got on the bus to go to camp there was one seat left. Once again because of my awful luck it was next to a boy. This boy’s name was Austin, and little did I know it, but I was about to get my first best friend!
Austin and I sat next to each other for the next three hours, and talked about our families, and the types of things that we liked to do. He told me about his siblings, and his parents. He told so much about himself that honestly I just remember thinking that this kid could talk as much as I could. Once we got to the camp we were separated, but when it came to the meetings, and lunch we were always together. It was weird, I hadn’t really had a friend yet, so it was really great to finally feel included, and in many ways loved.
As it came up on the end of the week camp was beginning to close, and many people were beginning to “change”. People were getting “saved”, and realizing the Lord’s passion for their lives. Though the people who were there were only between the ages of 5 and 11 I do in many ways believe they were genuine in their ways. But it was Austin’s change that would forever impact my life. On the last night at camp the counselor/pastor guy stood at the front and did an altar call.He wanted anyone who was ready to accept Christ, and be saved to come to the front. It was then that I saw Austin stand up, and go to the front. He made a proclamation of faith that day, and gave his life to God that day. It was possibly one of the most precious memories that I could ever capture, but I wouldn’t have known that for years.
After that weekend Austin and I continued to hang out, and grow closer as friends. Once we hit middle school we started going to the same school, and come high school we had classes together. It was so cool to have him in my life. We would spend hours laughing, and making jokes, it was honestly amazing.
Now our relationship was not always hearts and rainbows, we definitely had a bad moment, and there is one that I will forever regret. I can not lie and say that in our friendship I didn’t develop feelings that went beyond just a friendship. I was definitely interested in Austin, and I thought he felt the same way. We were hanging out more, and he was more interested in the things about me that laid beneath the surface. So in my mind this meant he was interested in pursuing me. But that wasn’t all true. It wasn’t long after these feelings emerged that Austin began dating someone. I grew very bitter over this, and I was so heartbroken. I was so angry that I pulled away from him, and just about stopped talking to him all together. And it’s so sad because there were times when he would reach out, and I wouldn’t care, and I would just walk away. I went almost an entire year without speaking to him, and it wasn’t until he sat next to me during lunch during our Junior year that we finally spoke, and to be honest it was almost as if nothing had happened. I finally accepted that we would probably never be the same, but that we would always be ok.
Now the summer following my junior year was the summer I became a christian, and I fell truly in love with God. So that year I went back to school, and was so excited to see what God had for me. I didn’t have any classes with Austin, or even lunch, or anything so it was a little weird. It wasn’t but three weeks into senior year that an event occurred that would forever rock my small town community of Nokesville, Virginia. It was a normal Friday night football game just like any other. We the tigers were down by some amount, and were bound to lose the game. Well Austin was out on the field, and at one point took an exceptionally hard hit and got a concussion. I was sitting in the stands with Austin’s new girlfriend Lauren. Lauren had walked off, and ran back telling us of what had happened. She left the game and went to the hospital, and I prayed the whole night.
The next day we had gotten word that he was ok, and that he was going fishing with another one of our friends. The next day was an annual event in my church that the youth group did. It was called class rallies, and it was an event that my class had won every year for the last three years. Well this year was very different. Something felt wrong the entire night, and I could never point out what it was. I then received a text message telling me that Austin was back in the hospital, and no one knew why. I was extremely thrown off by this, and it ultimately made it extremely hard to focus on rallies. None of us could, we literally prayed the entire night that we were there.
To save you a story that doesn’t need to be told, we lost rallies that night, and as soon as we ended it myself and a few others ventured to the hospital. Once we got there it was an extremely sad scene. no one was talking, and everyone was so confused. Well finally someone pulled me aside and told me of why Austin was really in the hospital. It is something that is extremely hard for me to admit, but I’m not gonna beat around the bush about this. Austin hanged himself that day. Hearing these words, let alone repeating them still gives me goosebumps. I just remember hearing the words, and going blank. I didn’t cry, or react I just kind of stood there. I didn’t believe it. So I just went back upstairs, and sat with my friends, and we waited.
One of the mothers was constantly coming upstairs to update us on what was going on. In the time that we all sat there we prayed, cried, and told stories of how awesome our amazing was. I can honestly say I prayed more that night, then probably any other time in my life. We were all constantly coming together to love on one another and bring each other comfort. Finally the mom came up to give us words that no one wanted. “The doctors have done all they could, but Austin’s gone.” Still to this day those words break me like nothing else. I think of how I fell to the ground and sobbed, and I looked around and saw how there was no answer in that moment for any of us. Just nothing made sense, and at the time there was nothing anyone could say to us to comfort us. But like we had the rest of the night we prayed. We were all in a circle and held hands and began to jsut pray allowed thanking God for the family that we had gained in each other that night, and to thank him for ever memory one of us got the chance to share with Austin.
It was then that Austin’s brother came up stairs. He looked right at me and said, “That’s my brother.” That’s all it took, and I just held him, and cried with him. Like I said there were no answers to what had happened. We didn’t know how to react. It still to this day is a moment that will have forever of changed me.
It was been two years since that rainy cold night, and there’s not a day that goes by that his name doesn’t go through my mind. I find myself just sitting, and talking out loud to him somedays. I held so much back, and never got to tell him I was sorry for walking away, and giving up. He never gave up on me, and I know now today that he never hated me for what I did. it took a lot of myself to see that. It took an extremely long time for me to realize that. But to be completely honest my faith was strengthened beyond all measure through this. I had to fully rely on God more then ever through this. He truly guided me through this.
I can’t say that I’ve completely healed from this, or that I ever will, but I do now that because of the proclamation of faith that Austin made when we were very young that I will see him again, and that no matter what he always loved me. No matter the day I walked away, until the day I walked back, I know he loves me, and the day I get to see him again, will be a most glorious day.
Austin was my first friend, and the love I received from his has forever changed me. i don’t take life for granted. I know that I wont be here forever, so I make use of the days I have. I try to love as well I can, and be a light of Jesus to people who don’t know Him. I wish everyday that I could’ve apologized to Austin, but I know he know’s that I’m sorry, and I know within my heart that I am forgiven. Some days I doubt it heavily, but deep down inside I know it’s true.
I miss him more and more everyday, but I know I will see him again, and that is what gives me a true peace in my life. God’s love and grace is so so sufficient, and I know it trumps and prevails all evil in this world. And until I see Austin again it will be the memories that are with me always. I love him forever and always, and that will never changes!
In the path of righteousness is life,
and in its pathway there is no death. Proverbs 12:28