Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Cards and Christmas message...

This year I decided to pass on sending my yearly Christmas card. At first, I thought I would send it out, but I have been so overwhelmed with things to do that I realized it would be too much pressure on me to pick the right picture and words to send out on time. We took some "new" family pictures but it has been hard to look at them. This is a new phase we are entering. I remember what we did exactly a year ago - and so does Bella. Today she said "remember last Christmas when I wore my Santa dress and we went to the mall to see the firework ice skating Santa with Papa?". Wow. She remembers so much right now.

I did not know that receiving Christmas cards would be so hard. It is not that it is hard to see the cards - I actually love seeing all my friends and family and how much the kids grow. And it makes me happy to see so many people I love happy. What has been so hard every time I open my mailbox has been all the different ways I am being addressed. I have had it all.

The Austry Family (which I prefer because, we are still a family)
Mariana Austry
Mariana Alvarez
Mariana, Isabella and Anna (no last name)
Ms. Mariana Austry (I know this is "pc" but I am just not ready for this)
Mariana ( no last name!)

I guess this is better than the way widows are addressed abroad. It would look like this:
Mariana Alvarez widow of Mark Austry

It makes it so hard to receive these cards because I feel like it took so much time for the sender to figure out how to address the card. Which then it feels like the envelope is about 10 lbs heavy with pain and grief. I know it is hard on many of our friends to come to terms with what has happened and most of them don't know how to "address" the whole situation. Everyday I try my hardest to still be a family and make the most of our life and all that God has blessed us with. Thankfully we still have each other and that still makes us a family.

So, here is The Austry family Christmas greeting...
I am thankful for all of you and all the support, kind words, actions and love we have been surrounded with. I especially thank you for your prayers. I pray that you all have a very blessed Christmas and may you and your families have a happy and healthy 2011.

The Austry Family
Mariana, Isabella (Rudolph) & Anna

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

ho x 3...

all that's changed...

is his outfit.  Merry Christmas!!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

the stocking...

Every now and then something having to do with Keith surfaces and nobody quite knows what to do.  This last time it was with his Christmas stocking at my parents' house.  Do we hang it?  Do we not?  Do we just keep it in a box?  Do we give it to Brooks?  Finally, my mom decided to unstitch Keith's name and make it Brooks' stocking.  Using new thread she would sew "Brooks" where "Keith" had been and then it was my suggestion to use Keith's original thread and sew "Keith" or "Dad" on the inside of the back stocking flap - that way Brooks could have something tangible that he shared with Keith.  This stocking would be theirs.  Anyway, as my mom removed Keith's name she became distracted before  sewing the name "Brooks".  She grabbed the thread and after running out after sewing "Broo" she realized the thread she was using was from Keith's name.  She continued to finish the "k" and "s" with the new thread and you can't tell where one ends and the other begins.  It's perfect and actually much better than sewing something on the inside of the back as a reminder.  So the stocking for Brooks is the one that Keith used each year after we were married.  The letters were removed, reshaped, but remain...much like Keith and the love we will always have for him.  I am so thankful that the Lord has given me a son that shares so much likeness to Keith.  It's such a blessing that a part of Keith lives on in such a sweet, fun miniature version.

Friday, December 10, 2010


I won't lie - part of me is REALLY ready to put 2010 behind me.  That being said, I'm a little surprised at the amount of stuff that took place in a year where, for the most part, I felt I was at a standstill.  Back in January I literally had NO idea what the year would hold for me.  My biggest fear was that Keith would stay in the condition he was in and that my life would continue in the manner that it had been for so many months.  My second biggest fear was that I would lose Keith and unfortunately that came true, but every day I am grateful that he won even though it hurts my heart that he's gone.

For close to a solid year my life was in limbo and I never knew where Keith would be.  Would he be stable enough to remain at the nursing home?  Would he be rushed to the hospital where I would anxiously await lab results to see what I was dealing with?  Would he be diagnosed with something that would require him to be admitted to a specialty hospital?  Would they send him directly to ICU or would he be sent to a regular floor room?  I can honestly say that I do not miss those days.  I was so limited in what I could do and where I could go - but even with those restrictions I did more than I realized. 

Brooks has been to Austin to see family a half-dozen times; he's gone to San Antonio close to that amount to see some of our closest friends.  He and I (along with my mom) spent a few days in San Diego although it was for business and not so much pleasure.  I entered an essay contest for the Today Show, won it, and then went to Scottsdale for a few days with my sister to redeem the prize.  I decided to go back to work so I got a job.  I was told for the seventh, yes seventh, time that Keith was dying and that he wouldn't pull through.  But he did.  I experienced hospice.  I planned a funeral.  I went to another funeral for him in Lubbock.  I thought Brooks and I might get our own place so I looked at a bunch of places for us.  I started working.  I spent about a million hours on the phone with various companies for various reasons.  I handled all kinds of matters that I didn't know I could.  I went to Belize.  I experienced another death - my grandfather Papa Jack, my mom's dad.   I took Brooks to Merkel to see Keith's family for Thanksgiving.  And now I'm ready for Christmas, 2011, and the opportunity to move forward with my life.  :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Chair...

The other night as we were having a nice dinner with Christmas music playing in the background. Ave Maria came on and it completely captured me and took me back to our wedding day when Mark and I held hands praying together kneeling down and crying together. It was one of the happiest days of my life...then I snapped back to real life and found myself staring at the 4th chair in our kitchen nook table...empty and pushed in with no place mat or food. It was then that I realized that I have been avoiding that chair for the past 9 months. Then that took me to about 10 months ago when we would sit around and talk after dinner while listening to music and the girls learned to play together. Anna would be crawling around trying to walk and Bella had short hair and still looked like a baby. How I missed him and hearing about work and just sharing a glass of wine talking and laughing. Enjoying our daughters and laughing along with them at the funny things they did. Honestly, I feel that I reached the up most happiness in my life at those moments and they were just beginning. I am so grateful I have those moments to remember, but I want more of them. And I want them with him. I want those moments for the girls - so they can remember what we had and how we were a complete and happy family. How does it get better than those moments? How will I experience that again? I know I will experience a new type of wonderful happiness at some point in my life again, but I feel my heart will always have a hole in it and no experience will ever be as good as those moments. Thank God for video and pictures.

One of the last nights we were sitting around after dinner and Mark grabbed his guitar. He started playing a bunch of Bella's favorite songs (Barney and others). We joked around that he should quit his job and start covering Barney songs with some other guys and they could be the next Wiggles! He did a great Barney cover. :) So then after we sang Fix You as a family, he started playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and ended with You are My Sunshine. The girls both climbed on his lap and he was teaching them how to play the guitar and Bella and him were singing. It was beautiful. And it was a moment we wanted to capture and I usually would have but this time I could not find the camera and I told him that we would take a picture later...on another night because at that moment I thought we had a lifetime of those moments. Boy was I wrong. I would do anything to have a video of that night. For the next couple of weeks we sang You are My Sunshine to each other none stop...and for some reason when he was in the hospital and I was on top of him trying to hold on to what I could, all I could get out of my mouth was that song. I could not stop singing it at the top of my lungs. I never knew how true those lyrics would be for me.
Please pray for our family during these weeks as we approach 9 months and especially for my sweet girls. For them to feel love, love, love. For God to wrap them up in love and protect their grieving hearts.