It’s Game Day!

blog austinIt’s Game day.

Football season is among us.  Saturday’s are college football day and thousands will pack into stadiums, in their favorite team’s colors to gather, possibly tailgate and cheer on their team… all in hope for a win.

I can vividly remember in my mind having to work at Children’s Healthcare many, many Saturday’s during Game Day.  I was usually fortunate enough to find a patient or two who would have football playing that day.  And if, this sweet young guy named Austin was inpatient… I knew I could count on him to make sure the Georgia Bulldogs were loudly playing in his room.  He was such a fan!  There is a Georgia line that says, “Georgia Fans bleed red and black…” and I assure you if that were really true, Austin’s blood would have been exactly that.  He was your all American, Southern boy.  He loved the Bulldogs, playing football, watching the Atlanta Braves, hanging with his friends… and was an absolute pleasure to care for.  He was one of the coolest kids that I have ever met.

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I have many fond memories caring for him and getting to know his mom, dad and sister… (and they now have three more additions to their family).  However,  the hardest day to date as a nurse was the day Austin passed from this life to Heaven.  Moments after he passed, the on call oncologist asked me and a fellow nurse to go with her as she met with his parents to tell them that Austin did not make it through his surgery.  My heart was heavy and there was no fighting back tears.  Austin was an amazing young guy and his family was (and still is) just as amazing.  It was devastating to witness parents hearing the news that their son is no longer physically with them.

The hurt.  The anguish.  The confusion.  The questions… There were no words to say to make them feel better in that moment.  The rest of us couldn’t even say we relate… we had no idea what they really felt, how much they truly hurt… We were just able to be there to pray with, love on and sit along side them.  Every April 1, I think of precious Austin and his wonderful family.  The day he passed away is forever in my mind and heart.  As hard as it was to be in the room when Kevin and Beth heard this devastating news… it was actually an honor to share this moment with them… and just as I would sit with him and cheer the Bulldogs to victory… I know and Austin’s parents know that he gained the ultimate VICTORY that day.  Austin won! Cancer did not win, but Austin won.  He was a fighter and gave all that he had… over 7 years have passed since that moment… and I know he is in the presence of Jesus and is assured of his victory.

I want to share a journal entry that his mom, Beth wrote to Austin during the 5th anniversary of his passing…

My dearest Austin,
I cannot sleep because I hear your voice. It was just yesterday, no wait – it can’t be, was it really 5 years ago. I hear you begging me “Mommy, please! I have to go to school today – it’s about to be spring break and I have to tell my friends bye before they leave for their vacation.”
And now I see you with all those wires and tubes as they wheel you away and hear you say “I love you” and watch as you raise your hand and wave as you say “See you later”. Oh how those words echo through my head. There is so much more I want to say and even more that I want to hear you say.
You should be in PCB today, hanging with your boys, chasing all the girls and raising as much hell as a proper raised Christian boy can. You and Tyler should be doing all you can to keep Josh, Zach and Jonathan out of too much trouble. You should be getting excited about taking your girlfriend to the prom. We should be setting up your appointment for senior portraits. You should be in the weight room showing those wimps how it’s really done. You should be on the diamond teaching your sister how to play. You should be taking your brothers to the park to play. You should be HERE!
Not a day goes by that I don’t miss you and want, NEED one more hug. I miss our talks; I miss your tenderness, your passion, your love of life. I miss your freckles, your amazing eyes, and your beautiful smile. Oh how I miss your crazy sense of humor, your “giggle”. I miss your stinky feet, your chubby cheeks, and your round little butt. I miss it ALL! It’s not fair! How can it be?
I wonder daily what you’d like today…the song that says who you’d be, doesn’t exactly apply, because I know who you’d be – you’d be my crazy, sweet, lovable boy…but what would you look like, what color hair would you have, how tall would you be, what girl would you like, what job would you have, what new sports would you be into, could you play the guitar, what color car would you have (I know what kind), would you still insist on everything you wear be black / red, what size shoe would you wear, would you still wear the same cologne … on and on the questions go. All I know for sure is that you’d still be my baby boy!
Send me one of your special signs today, I really need it!
I will always and forever love you!
See you later my love,
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This post may bring tears to your eyes, and heavy your heart, but please, please let it encourage
you to pray for those parents who have lost their children. I cannot even fathom the pain they feel
on a daily basis, regardless how many years pass.  May this post also encourage you to love your
people.  Make the most of each moment with those the Lord has placed into your life. Thank you so much Beth for being open to share a little glimpse of your story and your sweet Austin with us.  Love and prayers to you and your precious family.
I love this picture that Flashes of Hope took of Austin’s family during his cancer diagnosis…
503_38343032204_4021_nFlashes of Hope is a wonderful organization and they “are honored to be there to capture those smiles and forever preserve images of courage, beauty and dignity.”  If you would like to know more about Flashes of Hope or help support this group, please visit their website at
Along with being blessed with Austin and their sweet daughter, Britaney… the Vickers have added three darling boys to their family and I love that Austin’s love for the game of football continues with them…
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