It shatters and cripples the lives it touches…
But tonight, I’ve gained a new understanding of death. You could say I found the beauty in it. Not in a way that would make it pleasant or bearable… But more of a way that I can try and learn something about myself from each loss I am hit with.
Tonight, one of my most cherished communities said goodbye to a beautiful soul named Austin. He fully embodied the Albuquerque Academy. In his spirit, his contributions, and his presence. He was a genius among a sea of many masquerading as such. But a humble genius.
While I shared too little in conversation with him during our time at Academy, I left his memorial tonight with new memories shared by his loved ones, professors, and my fellow Academy alumni.
To me, Austin had always been the boy with the rolling backpack. The image of him sprinting up the pathway to North Hall, his ID lanyard flying in the wind behind him as he passed, will be how I forever see him. Thankfully, I will also now be able to carry with me the memory of his essence, something I was missing, and had not grasped or come to know until tonight’s service.
Austin was always kind. Everybody knew that. But tonight I learned of his passion for and dedication to learning. How he loved to try new things, and embraced the possibilities that so many of us happily go through our days ignoring.
His father left the mourners with an inspiring challenge and request, brought on by the way Austin lived. He encouraged us to remember and honor Austin by challenging ourselves to say ‘yes’ more. To go that extra mile on a hike. To go to classical music concerts and just, be, in the full moment of the music. To tell everybody we love, just how much we love them, unapologetically. Because why not? Why not tell your friends you love them, every chance you get? It’s the truth isn’t it?
I spoke a few words of how I will remember Austin, and for that his family thanked me. But I should have been thanking them. And thanking Austin. His death rocked our community. But it also brought us together, hopefully, strengthening the bounds already there, and establishing the ones not yet built.
So tonight, I start anew. And for that, I thank you, Austin.
Say hi to Nick and Lt. Casey while you’re up there. Hope you all have one, big, rollicking heck of an Academy reunion."