Austin Ray Mayfield was born on January 29, 1994 in Henderson, Kentucky. Austin lost his life to suicide on August 29, 2014. He was 20 years old. Austin was a son, brother, nephew, cousin, grandson, friend and mentor among so many other things. I recently spoke to Austin’s mother Tara Ray Mayfield, also born and raised in Henderson, Kentucky and a former classmate of mine, regarding her sons death. Austin lost all hope and chose to take his life by hanging himself. Tara found her son that August day and her “life has been forever changed.”
In his mother’s words, “Austin was a very intelligent and talented young man. He had the drive that most people only dream of to succeed. He graduated from Henderson County High School in 2013 with honors. He was Co-President of the Colonel Corner and Vice President of Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). He attended the University of Kentucky his freshman year and returned to Henderson his sophomore year to attend the Henderson Community College in hopes to achieve the GPA he needed in order to obtain grants and scholarships to attend Washington University. He was an inspiration to so many of his peers. He didn’t just leave a legacy, he is a legacy and he made a powerful impact on many lives. Austin loved to read. His favorite books were Harry Potter. He was dry witted and funny. He loved animals and he always was dragging around a kitten when he was little. He had even brought a kitten home about two weeks before he died…his name is Mary. Yes I did say “he” and Mary Jane is his name, little did Austin know but we found out the cat was a he not a she right after Austin died. Austin was not a follower, he was very opinionated and was not swayed easily. He did things because he enjoyed them not because it was the in thing, like Pokémon and Digimon cards he collected since he was very small. Austin had one of the biggest hearts of anyone I ever knew and he was honest. I don’t know that he ever even told me a little white lie. I never thought of Austin as being depressed just shy and he didn’t like to talk about his feelings at all. He also had a passion for music…he played the guitar and then bought a keyboard and taught himself to play. His favorite saying was “Where words fail music speaks” by Hans Christian Anderson and if you think about it, it was very fitting for him. He didn’t express his feelings with words but he did so through his music.”
Tara shared a journal entry with me from August 16, 2010 that she had written four years prior to his death. “I am a 38 year old divorced mother of three children. Austin is the oldest at 16. He is a freshman at Henderson County High School. He is a great kid, very bright, does well in school and is playing football. Austin is a very different child; he stays to himself and is hard to get to know. When he was born he came out mad at the world like he would have like to have been left in his little cocoon and not disturbed.”
Austin continued to keep to himself. He kept his personal pain, depression and struggles to succeed on the inside. Tara’s loss is one that no parent should have to experience. In her words, “No one can understand the grief from losing someone to suicide unless you have experienced it personally. It never goes away…it is always on your mind, including the what ifs, the blame, the guilt, the personal agony that you live with the rest of your life. I do not want another parent or child to have to experience this again. I know first hand that hopeless, lost feeling, being talked about, made to feel you’re not good enough and being made fun of. Although I was a cheerleader throughout school, I was picked on and talked about to the point I had no self worth. What happened to me in my youth has haunted me throughout my life. I too attempted to take my life several years ago. For this reason I can never be mad at him…I understand the pain that he must have felt.”
Tara understands the pain, but she never imagined this would happen to her own child. Austin left behind two siblings, Elizabeth a 7th grader and Wesley, a sophomore…”they are the reasons I have to stay strong.” Tara told me she was in a “fog” for several months after Austin’s death. Completely and utterly devastated, she took a leave of absence from work for a few months to heal. And in her healing process, instead of allowing the pain to consume her, she decided to turn her personal tragedy into a campaign of positivity to help “promote suicide prevention awareness as well as positive self esteem in our youth.” Tara explained “One day in the near future, I would love to start a non profit organization that would work with our schools to take steps to prevent suicide and educate the community and help end the stigma around mental illness and suicide.”
Tara is back to work and in her free time she is working feverishly researching to promote suicide awareness. She is currently working hand in hand with the president of the FBLA, Kaci Phillips, to organize a walk in Austin’s honor. Proceeds from the walk will be used to create a scholarship in Austin’s name and donated to a local organization that can help promote suicide prevention or help families that have been affected. The walk is tentatively set for Friday May 15th at the Henderson County High School track in Henderson, Kentucky. There will be an entry fee to walk and donations will also be accepted. If you would like to make a donation to the Austin Ray Mayfield fund or find out more information about the walk, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
WALK FOR AUSTIN
WHEN: MAY 15, 2015 (THE WALK HAS BEEN POSTPONED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE)
WHERE: Henderson County High School Track
Suicide is often the outcome of untreated depression. Suicidal feelings and depression are both treatable, therefore it is necessary that the walls of silence are torn down to help promote awareness. If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide or having suicidal thoughts, you are not alone and it does not mean anything is wrong with you. The stigma that has been placed on mental illness in general needs to be erased so that those who need help have somewhere to go and are not afraid to reach out. It is important for those who are having these feelings that THERE IS HOPE. These feelings will pass. You MUST reach out and talk to someone. There is help out there. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE 1 (800) 273-8255
Beethoven ~ Moonlight Sonata played by Austin Ray Mayfield
Austin’s legacy will live on forever. He was so very loved. Here are some stories and memories of Austin as told by the lives he touched ~
By Nikoli Williams
A Personal Reflection on Austin’s Life and the Monumental Impact He’s Had on Me
High school is the time where a person will find friends with similar interests, and will let go of others who just aren’t the ones with whom you’d most like to spend your time. For me, there were two primary groups that I had been a part of: Football and FBLA. I first met Austin as a sophomore, a time in which we both played football. We knew each other somewhat at this point in time, but not extremely well. He decided he no longer wanted to play, and for a while, I did not see him most days, as I had during football.
It was not until junior year that we really got to be “close.” I put that in quotations because he would cringe by the use of “we were close.” He was not one to come right out and tell you about his feelings, but you always knew what he thought about you. He either respected you or he didn’t. He liked you, or he didn’t. Things were very binary. But during junior year, through FBLA and the friends who came about because of that, we had spent a lot of time hanging out, especially after school. The view I had at this point was a quiet, sometimes seemingly shy, guy who worked hard when needed and didn’t take things too seriously. He worked hard with me to make FBLA the best it was and he always impressed me with what he could do when he wanted.
Fast forward to the end of our junior year… Austin and I were selected to be officers of FBLA to continue the progress we had made during our junior year. He was initially the parliamentarian, who admittedly had a short list of duties, but he never wanted to continue in that role. He wanted to be more impactful and helpful to our cause. As a friend, I knew this, and could see the desire he had to have the opportunity to do more. Things fell into place for that to happen. Our Vice President unexpectedly resigned shortly after installation to the office. This meant someone was needed to fill the role, and I knew from that day he would be the one to do it.
Austin worked as parliamentarian for a few months, and he did everything his duties required, as little as that was, plus ten times that amount of work helping out in any other way he could. He was an expert at the “other duties as assigned” clause that is at the end of every role responsibilities list. These things impressed our advisors, but they were hesitant to give him an opportunity. I was sure that I wanted him to be my right-hand man. I saw how willing he was to work to complete everything necessary to make things successful for the hundreds of members that we had. He was given that chance, and this was the watershed moment that I can identify as what changed him for the better.
As Vice President, Austin was at every event from before it started, until we were the last to go home. He really made things happen, as much as he may have not wanted to admit it. Without someone as strong as him ready to go at the snap of a finger, I am not sure how things would have gone. I know he made me want to be the best leader I could be, and he made me want to be impressive to all around me. He never knew that. Because of his ability to force excellence, I also wanted to push him to be better than he thought possible. At times, he would be thrown into speaking to people, sometimes a lot of people. I think the approach of “pushing him out of the nest” was really what made him blossom before everyone’s eyes.
If you ask anyone who knew him throughout high school, especially teachers, they would attest to the fact he was able to come out of his shell and really be excellent at anything he wanted to do. He was a leader, even if he didn’t always want to be. People looked to him for reassurance. This is not necessarily verbal reassurance, but reassurance through a calm and collected demeanor in a stressful situation. He went from a quiet and seemingly shy person, to an outgoing, hard-working, strong-willed one. I would submit that anyone would be hard-pressed to find someone who did not believe this about Austin.
The Austin I knew was the epitome of the dynamic character that your English teacher always talked about. The above anecdote, while short, and certainly lacking many details, is a very good summary of what made him who he was to me. Austin was someone who was frank. He could sometimes be harsh. He was always up for a good time. Most of all, though, he was someone who just exuded this indescribable will to achieve and he showed that by becoming better at so many things, with the above just one example.
Austin was a great friend to me. He was a great friend to many. And when I think about it, I don’t think there was anyone who knew him who could truly say they disliked him. When things are rough, and you need someone to tell you like it is, or to discuss some issue, you seek someone who is honest and truthful; you seek someone who is a strong person, and a trustworthy confidant. For me, Austin was someone who would assess a situation and say “this is how it is,” regardless if I’d like the response or not. He was that one person who I counted on most when things were not going as smoothly as they could have or should have been. I am lucky to have had someone like him as my indispensible friend. I cannot reiterate it enough that my life, without him in it, would be different, and probably would not be as positive as it is. I am not saying that circumstances would be different, but that the joys of having him as a friend could not have been filled. Even if it were someone else put in my life, I would not believe that they could have had the impact that he did. I am happy to say we had a mutualistic relationship. I characterize it as such because I don’t see it as I helped him or he helped me, rather, we helped each other and it made us both the best we could possibly be. We both were more successful because of it all.
Since Austin’s death, there have always been mixed and jumbled feelings about everything. At the beginning, it was this “what if?” game that many have certainly gone through. I always ask, “Is there something else I could have done?” The answer is always unclear. In this mind game, there is a wish that you can help in some way. It is human nature to think I could have done something at some point. On the other hand, realistically, there is not much any one person could have done at that time. I have realized that things happen and no matter how much questioning you do, and no matter how many scenarios you play out in your brain, nothing will change or could have been changed. I’ll concede that if circumstances were completely different, things may have gone differently. Maybe better, maybe worse. There is no point in playing that game. Because of this situation, I have realized that the good that came from our relationship far outweighs the negatives of the current time. I think this perfectly illustrates how people don’t see how much of an affect others truly have on them. We get complacent with our lives the way that they are, and we never stop to think how much of a blessing everything is that we have, that we experience.
I think it is easy to blame something or someone for Austin’s death. We look to solve the mysteries in life, and this is no different. I can’t answer the question “Why?” This is because I don’t know, nor does anyone else. This line of thinking helps me highlight the positives from the past, which help enable me to make the future better for others and for me. At this time, I use what has happened as a reminder that I was blessed to have the experiences I had, I am blessed to have the memories I remember, and I will continue to be blessed by the lessons and feelings that have been left with me.
I know in my heart that Austin always expected a lot out of me. He always said I would do great things. I feel as though I have to now, or else I would disappoint him. Even still, there are times where I have something come to mind that I want to tell him, or want to show him. And even though it is not physically possible to do so, I always feel like he’s with me and is keeping a watchful eye. I have been strengthened and comforted by this, and I no longer find myself confused and questioning. I am at peace with the fact that my dynamic, hard-working, extremely helpful, sometimes harsh best friend is not physically with me anymore, but I can see the impact that he had on me. I continue to recognize the impact he has on me. There are two things that stick in my mind day in, and day out. One: I hope I can always impress him. Two: I hope I can impact peoples’ lives as much as he has impacted so many.
By Nick Hannebauer
People often say you never know what you have until it’s gone, well I learned the hard way how true that statement is. My relationship with Austin Mayfield was genuinely unique. It’s difficult to describe our friendship. To me, Mayfield was more of a brother than anything. We did everything together, went everywhere together. From the time I met him, eighth grade, to his last day, we were always in touch. When we struggled, we struggled together, and when stood on top of the world, we did it together. We were inseparable for most of my journey through adolescence. But we had a relationship that was different than I ever really had with anybody else. We were brothers. We fought, beat each other up, made fun of each other, but never really got truly angry at each other. No matter what we did to one another, we would always come out of the situation laughing. Even when we did fight, we would still stick together through everything. We just connected. Whether it was through our struggles, our accomplishments, our extreme competitiveness with each other, or our views on the world, we understood each other better than anybody else could
I always had issues connection with people, but not Austin. But also, no matter what we thought about everybody else, we believed in each other. I looked up to Austin. Whether I would admit it or not, I looked up to him. When he set a goal, he achieved that goal. If it was a fitness goal, our an academic goal, he would work as hard as needed to make sure he got what he wanted, no matter what. I thought the world of him, as did many of his peers. He truly an incredibly strong person. Mayfield was one of the people who influenced me to become the person I really wanted to be. When the world told me I couldn’t do something, he told me I could. Through more explicit terms, Austin told me I could be what, or whoever I wanted to be, and all I had to do was man up and do something about it. He was the only person who believed in me, when even I didn’t. And for that I wish I could thank him. If not for Austin Mayfield I may have not turned out to be the person who I am today.
The loss of Austin Mayfield took its toll on my greatly. Austin left me as vulnerable as I have ever been. I was left alone and confused. I no longer knew whom I could look to for help in tough situations. I had nothing. I lost the person I was closest to in my life and I had nobody to turn to. I felt truly alone. I had lost a part of who I was. I had lost hope in myself because the only other person who had hope in me was gone. There are really no words that describe the pain of losing a person like that. But the way I lost him made it so much more painful. When the person you look up to losses a battle as he did, you lose the battle with them. It’s so hard to believe in anything when the person you believe in gives up and loses the battle with reality. I felt like I let him down as much as he let me down. I looked back over all everything we had been through and wondered what I could have done to save him. I thought to myself I could have done something. If only I responded to the message he left on my phone before he made his decision, I could have saved my best friend. Because of the war that rages in my head because of his decision, I now feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders. It kills me every day that I have to go on with life with the thoughts in my head. I was left with the responsibility of making the name Austin Ray Mayfield live on. I fight everyday to be the best possible person I can, to be the best, and the strongest, so I can prove that he was right when he would say I can do anything.
Since his death I have become an entire new person. I believe Austin would be proud of what I’m doing, because he believed in me. I began working out regularly, and improving myself academically. I decided to try my hardest at becoming a clinical physiologist so that maybe one day I can save somebody like Austin’s life and allow them to effect the world as Austin Mayfield would have had I been able to save him. I decided to devote as much of myself to the cause of stopping people from giving up, and keeping their loved ones from going through what I did, because the pain I deal with everyday is something I would not wish upon my worst enemy.
I love and miss my best friend and brother so very much and it hurts not to have him more everyday.
By Kyle Wilson
Austin Mayfield had been my friend since age 9 or 10; his grandfather went to my church. We became good friends over the years at church cookouts, church camp and other church functions, and we especially became closer once we started getting involved in spots at the high school, first with football and then with track. We were teammates, friends, I actually thought of him as an older brother I suppose. After things did not work out well at UK, the things back home got depressing, and I know that him being an ambitious man…knowing that life was not about self, but more than self, and his firm belief in living above the common level of life…he felt he had fallen behind or maybe felt as if he was failing. He was very self reliant and very disciplined in keeping his inner most feelings deep inside and hiding it with a mask of toughness. Finally one early morning he took his own life. He was somebody that I thought of like I said earlier as an older brother. I always can remember his being a very straightforward, tough, uncut kind of character, in a very good way. That being said, he was very honest and I and all who knew him felt the same way. To sum it up, he was an outstanding individual.
His death sure did affect me at first. It was hard to keep my composure and get through that day. I remember that at practice for a least the next week, I would phase out mentally while we were running or doing repeats, I thought a lot about it, still do sometimes. I really could not believe it at first. I will still sometimes come home from college and think “Hey I should call Mayfield!” and then scroll through the list of contacts and realize. This still happens to me sometimes, I just forget what happened for a few seconds.
By Harry Mathison
I have been asked by Tara Mayfield to prepare some information about Austin Mayfield who committed suicide last August. By way of background you should be aware that I am an attorney and the stepfather of Ethan Hundley who was one of Austin’s friends since the time the two of them were in third grade at Holy Name School. Over the years Austin visited in our home quite often, many times staying overnight. From August of 2012 until August of 2013 lived with us in Henderson.
During that time I feel I came to know Austin very well. He was a kind hearted and well-mannered young man who I thought would do very well in life. He very much wanted to go to College at the University of Kentucky and was able to gain admittance, beginning classes in the fall of 2013. I had high hopes for him going forward in life. I thought he would be a true success. Most of the kids his age seem to find it hard to dedicate themselves to an objective. They all have the impression that the things they want to achieve in life should be easy to achieve. Austin seemed to understand that life is not like that. He understood that if you want good things in life, you have to be ready to work and sacrifice for them. I will always remember that the boys were part of a little rock band in 2012 and early 2013. Austin and Ethan were guitarists. Austin worked extremely hard at the craft. He viewed practice as a privilege not as a chore. I will always remember and cherish taking the kids to Evansville to practice with the drummer in his home or to guitar lessons. Austin threw himself into the venture with great enthusiasm and could not seem to do enough to improve himself. His enthusiasm was not matched by the others and the band eventually just fell apart, but Austin maintained his interest in music, both the guitar and keyboards, and continued to work at it, eventually becoming a pretty good musician.
Austin’s death came as a terrible shock to me. I will always wonder if there was some tip off to his discontent that I should have noticed. I will always wonder if there was something I could have done that might have turned the situation around and preserved his life. We will never know.
That is the other troubling thing about his death. His is a life unfulfilled. We will never know what he could have achieved in life. Given his work ethic, I like to think he could have been a profound success. I do not so much feel a sense of my loss as I do his loss. The pleasures he will never know, the sense of accomplishment he could have experienced. It strikes me that anyone who takes his own life must be a person who has lost all hope in life and all sense of self-worth. I never spotted any warning sign of his loss of hope or self-worth. I cannot imagine what caused Austin to lose hope and I cannot imagine why he did not see his value as a person when everyone else could. There was so much he had to live for and I still have no idea why he would abandon all that. I suppose one of the things we all need to do, particularly with younger people is to make sure they develop a sense of self-worth and understand that all is never really lost so long as you remain true to the good in all of us.
By Cathy Thrasher
I am a middle school teacher. I would like to promote awareness to teen suicide. I have had two former students commit suicide. One while he was a member of my class. The other had been in my class the previous year.
Austin was my cousin; he had attended youth functions with out church group. I had been around Austin since we had returned to the area.
Unfortunately this isn’t a unique situation… Too many teens think that suicide is a solution to their problems. I hope we can find a way to reach out to teens and then support the families it affects.
By Danna Robinson
I am a business teacher at Henderson County High School. I recently had a former student, Austin Mayfield, commit suicide.
Austin had a promising future and one simple decision took it all away along with his life. I was his teacher freshman year and I saw so much potential in him. He was a quiet kid that wasn’t really involved in much so I made it my mission to get him involved in FBLA. He grew so much over those 4 years and became a very professional young man with so much to look forward to. He was always sarcastic and joking around so no one really knew the pain he was in on the inside. His story is important because we see this in so many students and people. The weight of the world is on their shoulders and they hide the pain.
I was affected drastically by that dreaded summer day when I got the news. Since then I realize I pay closer attention to things my students and others I come into contact with say as well as how they say them. I think it has caused me to build better relationships with others because I listen more and allow others to talk. Even though my life is crazy busy I will find time when someone needs me more than usual.
We are currently providing awareness for the students in our school as well as people in the community. Suicide prevention is very important especially with the stress of the world.
By Marsha Herzog
Austin was the cutest little red head! Special because he was my brothers grandson! Through the years Austin has been in my life. His Pa being my brother and I had a grandson Matt who was a year younger than Austin. It was fun when we all got together. Through my eyes he was always a studious kid and learning to play the guitar was a plus! I never thought of him as an athlete, although he stayed in tiptop shape. He was always so good and sweet around me and I loved to brag on him.
The last time I saw Austin was the Monday before the accident. I was going to visit a friend at Pleasant Pointe and got on the elevator and turned around and there he was. Austin! After a hug and kiss we go caught up on him being back home and going to school at the community college. He was taking his Grandma Marsha Ray a sack of groceries and of course I once again bragged and grinned! After he got off the elevator I yelled, Hey Austin! I love you! And he turned around and said I love you too Aunt Marsha! That is a wonderful memory I will never forget! To me, he was a precious, smart young man with a great future ahead of him. He will be missed at our gatherings especially “The Ray Cousins Reunion” in July.
God Bless you Austin, I will always love you! Aunt Marsha”
By Antonio Garcia
This is my experience getting to know Austin, and what I felt going through his death.
When I had first heard about Austin’s death, I thought it was a joke. “Yeah, okay” or “sure he did” were my first responses to it. However, more people started to make posts about it on Facebook and other social Medias. In my head I kept thinking, this is taking a joke too far, it isn’t funny. I started calling Austin’s phone, no reply. I sent messages to his phone. No reply. After about an hour of no responses, I start to panic. I finally get a message from Austin’s phone, and I feel relieved. But it isn’t Austin, it’s his mother Tara, saying that Austin passed away this morning. I wasn’t sure how to feel. All I could say was that I was sorry. One of my best friends had passed away and all I had to say to his mother was that I was sorry. I guess it didn’t really sink in until I called Nick Hannebauer, my other very close friend from Kentucky. “Is it real? Is Austin really dead?” I ask him bluntly. His response, “I’m sorry man, I wanted to be the one to tell you, I just didn’t know how.” I drop my phone next to me, tears streaming down my face. The next thing I know is that I’m silently weeping, trying not to make too much noise. “This can’t be real,” I tell myself, trying to convince myself that Austin wasn’t gone. It couldn’t be real, how could it? One of the people that I kept closest to my heart was gone, and I wouldn’t accept it, even if I knew it was true.
I first met Austin in eighth grade; I had just moved to Kentucky from Florida to live with family because of financial issues. I didn’t really know how to socialize with others my age, I was pretty shy. But one morning at breakfast he sat next to me. I was confused at first because I sat away from everyone else, and he didn’t say anything at first. Then he looked up and smiled and told me his name. We started talking to one another and realized that we had a lot in common. We also had classes together so it wasn’t the last time we talked to each other. From Austin is where I met a lot of my other friends at the time, one being Nick H., who also became one of my very close friends. We all hung out together, having fun, being angry, and all other things eighth graders did. At the end of eighth grade I ended up moving to New York to live with my dad, I figured that I was a good opportunity and that I would learn something being with him. Austin and Nick weren’t happy about it, and made me promise that I would come back to visit. I kept that promise, and every vacation break that I had I made sure to go back to visit them. Austin always tried to include me in everything when I visited, even if I didn’t want to. But in the end I usually had I good time, and I was grateful to him. I knew from then on that no matter where I was, I always had a friend I could go back to if I needed to.
Looking back on it, it’s kind of surprising that I became such good friends with Austin. He was very blunt and opinionated. He didn’t care about what people said about him, and he made it apparent if he didn’t like you. But he was someone you could trust. He told you how he felt, and never beat around the bush. If he thought you were doing something wrong, he told you, regardless of what the repercussions were. He could also be kind at times, although that was rare. That was probably why he became one of my closest friends. He was very straight forward, and honestly didn’t care if you liked him or not. I admired him for it, and tried to adopt some of his traits, regardless if they were good or bad.
At the end of High School, halfway through senior year, I started struggling with depression. I would sometimes lie in bed for days at a time, not really finding a reason to do anything. I ended up missing three months of school in total because I didn’t see a reason to go anymore. I hadn’t told anyone about it either, my father had worked the same hours that I went to school, so he didn’t notice that I wasn’t going, and most of my friends in New York had already moved onto college. My friends in Kentucky hadn’t realized anything either, since they weren’t around to see a change in me. I was barely able to graduate high school because for the depression, and figured that I should move back to Kentucky with my family, thinking that attending college there might be able to help with the depression. Austin and Nick seemed really excited to have me back, I was happy to be back too, but it didn’t seem to help. I ended up dropping out of college, continuing the cycle of never leaving my bed, not sleeping or eating, thinking that all of it was pointless and nothing mattered. Thoughts of suicide crossed my mind multiple times, thinking, the world doesn’t need me, and nothing would change. Austin found out about my unhealthy patterns, and became furious with me. He would call my phone nonstop until I answered eventually, and he would yell at me to go out with him, saying that it would make me feel better. I would decline, saying that I didn’t feel like it. He would get angry, yell some more, cursing, and would eventually hang up. Shortly after he would show up at my house and force me to go out. At the time I was angry that he forced me to do something that I didn’t want to, but looking back at it, I couldn’t be more grateful, because I would end up having a good time and enjoying myself. After being in Kentucky for about six months, I went to go live with my mother for a bit in Florida, then after back to New York, Thinking that somewhere I might be able to be happy again. While in NY I did start to feel better, but only slightly. I didn’t keep in contact with my friends in KY very well. A few months in NY is when I hear about Austin’s passing.
I thought I would tell a little about myself because I figured that it might have been similar to what Austin was feeling when he decided to take his life. And then I realize that I had been struggling with depression for almost three years. In my own darkness I hadn’t realized that my best friend was going through the same thing I was.
I decide to fly back to Kentucky for the funeral. I end up losing my job because of it, but it doesn’t matter to me. All I can think about is how selfish I had been, how idiotic I was not to realize that Austin was going through the same thing I was and worse, and I failed to realize that. Was it my fault? Was there anything that I could have done to stop what had happened? I’m sure anyone who was close to Austin was feeling the same thing that I was, such as Nick, who I know takes more than enough burden on himself for what had happened.
The first day of the funeral comes by, and I get there early. I go with Nick but he disappears somewhere. I go into the room where the body is, and I see many sad faces. My chest starts to well up, holding back tears. I see Tara at the front of the room, sitting next to the casket that I assume Austin is in. I can’t go up yet, I can’t accept it yet. I sit at the back of the room for a few hours. Nick shows back up and sits next to me. We’re both quiet for a while. I ask if he’s gone up yet, he says the same thing that I told myself, he’s not ready yet. A little while more passes and we both decide to go up when there isn’t a line. Tara sees us both and hugs us around the neck, thanking us through tears for being able to come, thanking me for being able to make such a long trip. I can’t hold my tears back any longer; I see Austin’s body over his mother’s shoulders, it finally hits me, Austin is really gone, and never coming back. I continue to cry for what seems like hours. “He’s really gone,” I say to Nick. “Yeah,” he says, still holding back his tears.
To this day, I think about Austin every day. I miss him. I wear a bracelet with his name on it that Nick had given to me. I try to keep in contact with Nick and Tara as often as I can, to catch up with them and to let them know that I’m doing all right, to make sure that they are doing all right. We have all went through one of the worst things that could possibly of happened to us. Tara lost her son, and Nick and me lost our brother. The pain of losing Austin will never leave, I can only get used to it. And I still deal with depression; it’s not as bad as it used to be. As others have said in this blog for Austin, he will forever live on with me. His legacy will forever be an inspiration. I don’t think I can ever be as successful as Austin had been, but I will try. I owe it to him for helping me through my depression. It could have easily have been me who had taken my life away if he and others didn’t help me like they did. I will remember him forever, and try to be the best that I can, for his sake.
(If you have a story or memory about Austin you would like to share on this blog please contact Tara Ray Mayfield at email@example.com)