We, including our good friend Jo, cared for Austin and Aidan in their early life. We are part of an unbroken chain of love that has surrounded them always. Gregg, Laurie, Austin and Aidan really are the most amazing, giving, caring family. But you all know that, have been touched by their love. We are so lucky to be a part of that. Their wider family too; Austin's grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and family friends have always been so warm, so welcoming and so inclusive of us, and we appreciate them wholeheartedly for that.
Jo was Austin's first nanny. Jo cannot be here today although she would dearly love to be. She is with us in her support, her love and her thoughts and she went to Gregg, Laurie and Aidan in their time of greatest need and we will be forever grateful for that.
Austin was six weeks old when Jo arrived. They shared a profound love and connection and here are a few of her words:
"How to articulate a love that lives on so deep in me, perhaps all the more, for knowing I can never again express it to him. I must use that energy in my movements and actions towrds others. So much easier said than done. I'd trade anything to look into his eyes again, tell a tale, make him laugh, watch him enjoy a dish that he didn't think he'd like but tried anyway. We loved him before we, or he even knew who he was, or was to become"
I am Emily. I have loved Austin since he was very small; for all of my adult life. I was his nanny from 14 months to 26 months. I would like to share some memories with you.
It is a cliche that children go through the'why?' stage and people often jokingly groan about this. I remember we were all together when Austin was four. One of us casually wondered which country was on the other side of the world. Australia is on the other side of the world from England, so we joke of digging a tunnel and popping up there. We were all sat on the sidewalk and Austin seized on this remark and asked why, and why, and why until all of our admittedly limited knowledge of sub-strata and geography was exhausted. It was all new ideas to him but our answers were absorbed and seriously considered and he wanted more, and more, and more of this precious stuff- knowledge. He loved it, he thrived on it, he needed it.
I happened to be in the playground with him the day he understood and could process the concept of counting for himself. You could see it in his eyes; that lightbulb moment. The expression which played across his face in that moment has come back to me, a gift, with utter clarity as I wrote this down. Wonderment, joy and eagerness to share the sensation was shown in his eyes, the tilt of his head; questioning that I understood and gladness that I did.
Austin would play a game where he would put his arm up his sleeve and into the body of his shirt. You would then have to ask with mock alarm 'Where is Austin's Arm' and look for it. He would then then deftly pull it back through and wave his arm truimphantly and dissolve into giggles, his eyes shining with happiness. We would repeat this many times and the more effort we both put into this performance the more we both enjoyed it. He was hilarious.
Austin was incredibly lovely. I have tried to distil the essence of this into words but I cannot. It will suffice to give you the bulletpoint I started with and know that you can provide your own resonant mental images of this from your own memory, or from the stories and pictures on the Remembering Austin site: HIS SMILE, HIS EYES, HIS TRUST, HIS GIVING NATURE.
So to re-cap Austin was smart, Austin was passionate, Austin was funny and Austin was sweet. The two year old Austin was just the same person as he has always been ever since. I recognise his essence in every story I have ever heard about him and in every achievement. I have always taken such pride in my small but important part in his upbringing.
It is the way, and how fully we live our lives which is important. Achieving our potential, being caring, being forgiving of ourselves and others, knowing and challenging our natures, being present, loving life. Austin showed us this throughout his too short life. I carry him always in my heart, in my actions and how I raise my children. I love you Gregg, Ilove you Laurie, I love you Aidan, I LOVE YOU AUSTIN.