I wondered how I could ever return.
Having to relive in my mind over and over again the event of losing my son.
I've never been good at asking for help.
Maybe because my life was so ideal. Almost perfect.
Troy Russell moved into our neighborhood and then through church
I was assigned to watch over his family and we became good friends. For years. Troy and I played basketball in the mornings, but then
he stopped coming. Troy adored Austin. He was his right hand man. He was his basketball buddy.
He and Austin had such a close bond over. That is something that united them. And it was a reminder of what he had lost.
Our family was cleaning out our garage and we had a pile of things that we were going to donate.
The truck was on the street when it was about 80% full. I thought, you know, why are we walking all the way to the street? So I backed the truck up in the driveway, so it's closer and we finish loading the last few things up.
And I turned and I put the car and drive and drove forward.
And I felt
I felt the truck go over something and my thought was something had fallen out of the truck.
And I look back and I see my
precious little boy.
I instantly knew what had happened. So I grabbed my phone and called 911.
I saw Austin lying next to the truck and I was just standing there in shock.
That's when I started to panic. That's when I started to really panic.
And all of a sudden, there we are falling in the ambulance, and then there we are in the hospital.
And then there's the chaplain talking to us. And as soon as we learned how the accident had happened,
it was like the second heartbreak, because we already knew that Austin had passed.
But then there's the heartbreak of Troy.
For me and Dieter, there was absolutely no joy in life in anything.
It felt as though a house had landed on top of us and we couldn't budge it. We couldn't move it. Breathing was difficult.
It was even harder to talk to each other. We just didn't even know what to say.
Even though it was so hard for me, I knew it was 100 times worse for Troy.
My heart broke for him every day. They say the grief is heavy and it is true. It feels like a huge burden that's on you. And you just can't you can't get out of it by yourself.
I don't normally really pray for my buddies, but I prayed for Troy. He still has four kids to take care of, a wife to take care of, a business to run. How do I help? There was a lot of people around trying to help.
Helping take care of temporal needs.
And so when I would go over there, I couldn't see anything that I could do. And I tried several different things, and basketball was one of them.
One of the things I'd done regularly has gone to early morning basketball, but that was the last thing I wanted to do. You know, Troy was having a hard time getting out of bed and there was no way he was going to get up and drive himself there. We thought, let's let him know how much we love him and get him back out to some version of normal.
When I first called Troy, he wasn't really excited about it. He was there at 515 in the morning. If he didn't show to pick me up, I would have I would have stayed in bed.
With a little bit of encouragement.
I did tell him that I would come in and get him. He wasn't out front.
And we were in the car and I just.
Talked and Troy is a good talker.
Talked about what I was experiencing, what I was learning,
feelings I was having. John basically just listened.
If we were in a band, he would be the lead singer and I would be off in the corner playing bass or something. He just he can talk.
It wasn't anything he said. It was just him being there, listening to me.
I didn't try to fix him. That's I'm not capable of that.
I'm capable of listening to someone. But I don't know that there's anything I could say off a bumper sticker or quoting a scripture that's going to change his life.
And I didn't feel like that's what he needed.
The time we presented him with the jerseys was that first basketball day back.
We're all wearing these jerseys. Troy walks in.
I knew it was going to be a special moment, the number three and the significance
and everything that tied together to have that presented to him and have us all wearing that jersey. It was just something that symbolized Austin and. Their bond together.
And it was. Almost like a brotherhood had come home that we hadn't seen for a while.
They really didn't know what to do to help take away the pain and the sorrow that I was going through. But to see that that they cared that I wasn't going through this alone.
I don't think they could have done anything better.
I went that one time, but I wouldn't have gone back if John hadn't continued calling me, texting me, picking me up over and over again. It turned into something that was difficult to something I was able to do, to something I was actually once again looking forward to.
John coming to the house, you know,
three mornings a week and just being there and being able to rely on him being there was so important for Troy.
After losing Austin. Just the intense pain, the sorrow.
It feels like there's nothing that can help. Why?
You know, why did I back the truck into the drive away and leave it on the street? So many things going through my mind. And so the pain that I felt was a combination of of everything.
And it had gotten to a point where I couldn't take anymore.
I don't know how to explain it, but I felt like I was going to burst inside or I was going to be crushed. I couldn't I could not bear any more of that pain.
And I dropped my knees and I prayed to our Heavenly Father.
I said, please take this pain for me because I can't take it anymore.
And at that moment.
I felt him speak to me, not to my ears, but like he spoke to my spirit
and he said, I can take away the pain.
But I'd have to take away the. Nine years you had with your son.
Or you can keep those nine years that you had with your son and endure the pain that comes with losing him.
And at that moment, it completely changed my perspective, because I would not I would not give up anything for those nine years ahead of my son.
I knew that the road ahead was going to be long and hard,
but I knew that it was going to be okay.
Looking back on all the things that everybody did for us,
those friends of ours and our neighbors ministering to us for months and months, taking care of our kids and bringing us meals, that was what helped us through.
All the things that the community wanted to do to come together to try to help. It was awesome to see.
You'll notice that balloons are being passed out around the court.
We're going to release these balloons. And say a big happy birthday, Austin. One, two, three.
I don't think I could have been as helpful to Troy without having a friendship before. And to me,
ministering is synonymous with friendship.
I don't I don't know that there's much difference between the two.
This experience has changed the way I think about God. God wants us to
love each other and take care of each other.
He doesn't want to give us a list or recipe of Go do this, go do that.
I think he wants us to just look out for each other, notice and go do.
The Savior always ministered one on one
to each individual according to their needs.
I felt Christ reach out through John and others to lift this heavy weight off me,
helping me get to a point where I once again had joy, laughter,
and I could be the husband and the father that I needed to be.
And while I miss Austin and wish she was with us,
I know that through Christ that we'll see him again.
After Austin passed away,
we started cleaning up the house and I went up into the laundry room. And about an hour later, she she called for me to come upstairs. And I reached into a pocket of a pair of pants that Austin wore in the church the previous Sunday. And I came out with this note that he had folded and put in there, and it says.
Remember, the worth of souls is great in the sight of God. One of the things that I've have come to know for sure is that Heavenly Father is so aware of us. He knows everything that we're going through.
Our worth is great in his sight.