There is this place I go to in my mind. It’s a wonderfully peaceful place. I call it my field of flowers. For 30 years I’ve envisioned a beautiful field of wild flowers at the base of a heaven-reaching mountain peak. I could see the majesty, the glory, and the strange surreal mixture of a snow covered mountain top with that of flowers blooming at it’s base and bees and butterflies fluttering about their day.

But it was just something I created in my mind. I wasn’t really sure if it existed or whether I’d ever see that sort of splender.

But it happened. I finally saw paradise.

Mount Rainier
Seattle, Washington August 25, 2012

I could tell you how beautiful it was or show you a photo of my experience but would you ever really know that kind of joy? I could tell you about the water and how clear and cool it was but would you be able to feel how alive I felt when I splashed it onto my face? I could describe the wonderful smells but I couldn’t bring the fragrance to life. I could remember the sound of silence and the peace it brought but could you ever know it like I know it?

Can you believe residents of Seattle see only 71 sunny days each year? In other words, the sun shines 1 day out of seven from October through May. When Big Daddy and I woke up that Saturday morning and saw not one single cloud in the sky we knew we had to make the 3 hour drive to Mount Rainier.

It was the most perfect day of my life.

This perfect day was one that made me think of my niece, Austen Everett.

We buried Austen next to her beloved grandfather just 2 days earlier.

I started to think about what lessons Austen’s life and death could teach me. I thought of my perfect day and against the odds of the Seattle climate how blessed I was to see my field of flowers so clearly. Have you ever seen what true beauty is and did you find out how hard it was to replicate that experience in a story?

This blog was always about more than giving you crafty ideas. Today, I implore you to read fully and to receive this woman’s story. To know her and to know about her and the good work her life and death have continued in the fight against cancer is to know true beauty.

Who knows, finding her beauty and strength in her story just might become your perfect day.

Austen Everett

               

Some things you’ll need to know about Austen up front.

1.  There aren’t words beautiful enough to describe her.

2.  She loved. Everything. And everyone.

3.  She was the image of a runway model. But not the overly skinny scary kind. The perfect skin, beautiful smile, and oh so stylish kind.

4.  She was an outstanding soccer player and goalie for UC Santa Barbra and University of Miami.

5.  Any pain and suffering from battling non-hodgkin’s lymphoma for 4 years did not define her. Ever.

Austen passed away on August 14, 2012. She was 25 years old. Trust me when I tell you that Austen made her mark, conquered cancer even in death, and left us with the inspiration to do the same.

Are you familiar with the insanely popular book, A Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren? I read it and loved it. Well done, Mr. Warren, for selling more than 30 million copies. If you ask me, losing Austen made me realize that not only do we have a purpose driven life but we all have a purpose driven death. If anyone understood that purpose, Austen did.

Austen and her fiancee, Matt

The Austen Everett Foundation

Austen wanted to give joy to children battling cancer. The Foundation is partnering with college and pro athletic teams to provide children fighting cancer and other life threatening illnesses with the opportunity to feel the thrill of victory. In June of this year, Jason Bayon, became the first person to experience this joy, thanks to Austen’s foundation.

The Austen Everett Foundation’s primary mission of serving the population of children stricken with severe illness through the empowerment that supportive team athletics undeniably provides fuses beautifully with the NCAA core value of “enhancing the sense of community and strengthening the identity of member institutions”.

“The relationship between athletic excellence and the patient’s struggle for survival is undeniable. These values fought for in competition bloom effortlessly in those fighting for their lives.”

Austen’s Vision

“How exactly will athletic attendance positively affect children’s lives? I believe strongly that it will. The energy alone of sporting events is powerful and inspiring. The sense of community blanketing a ravenous crowd is infectious itself. The pandemonium of joy in athletic victory is a not-so-subtle contrast to the heavy cloud of doubt shadowing the patient’s struggle, and the gusts of communal cheers do wonders if only they put a smile on the child’s face. For in that moment, a laugh can combat the harsh side effects of their treatments, and a smile may be the most important procedure in their treatment. There is no struggle too great, no hardship to be avoided, no effort to be wasted, when one works to win the battle against Cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.” -The Austen Everett Foundation

Austen in the loving arms of her mother, June

I think this Celtic prayer says what Austen would have said to those who love her but I also think there is much to learn from Austen’s life and death for all of us. I pray you’ll be as good of a student as Austen was.

Don’t grieve for me, for now I’m free; I took His hand when I heard Him call; I turned my back and left it all. If my parting has left a void; then fill it with remembered joy. My life’s been full, I savored much; good friends, good times, a loved one’s touch. A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss; ah yes, these things, I too, will miss. Perhaps my time seemed all too brief; don’t lengthen it now with undue grief. Lift up your hearts and share with me; God wanted me now,

He set me free.

Austen Patricia Leahy Everett
October 28, 1986 – August 14, 2012

Crafty 4(a) Cause

Our first Crafty 4(a) Cause is in recognition of the work my niece, Austen Everett, did on this earth. Can we as women (and men) give a little to help fight this fight?

A few years ago I had an opportunity to meet Lance Armstrong when he visited my Army unit. I told him all about Austen. When I read this I couldn’t help but smile. Yeah, these are the words from one amazing athlete, Lance Armstrong. But if I didn’t know better I would have thought that these words were spoken by Austen.

“If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages, then maybe we can all learn from them. When you think about it, what other choice is there but to hope? We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up, or Fight Like Hell.”

As for the rest of us, I say let’s fight like hell.

Question: Would you donate the cost of a can of paint to The Austen Everett Foundation? Donate Here

Update: University of Miami honors Austen at their annual Kick for the Cure women’s soccer event. You can read about Kick for the Cure here.

About The Author

  • Gracie

    BEAUTIFUL STORY!!!! Donating to this cause is well worth while……

  • Debbie Boswell

    Thank you for this…feeling so helpless, but knowing I can help Austen’s dream continue here.

  • Michael

    Amazing post, thanks so much for writing this, Chrissy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kari.anderson.1042 Kari Anderson

    Thank you Christine for putting what we all feel into such elegant words. The pain of this loss is so deep, it is helpful to focus on the beauty of life. Austen lives in us all. Love you June.

  • Margy Samuelson

    Wow – I can’t believe I live so close to Mt Rainier and have only visited a handful of times. Your picture was stunning. It is a beautiful and unique place. So nice to have seen you last week and participated in the services for Austen. I am so honored to be a part of the loving Leahy family. We will sooooooo (an Austen classic embellishment!) miss my Beautiful Child but relish the wonderful memories and her fresh spirit. All my love to you and all who care about Austen. -Margy

  • http://www.facebook.com/kathy.leahy.90 Kathy Leahy

    Chrissy & June,
    Beautiful pictures of a Beautiful young woman. I was very blessed to have Austen be my niece. She was very unique in all the world, a very special person!!! Aunt Kathy

  • BeColorful

    Such an amazing post and tribute to an obviously spectacular woman. She has been set free and left us some stepping stones to follow her inspiring path. I’m so glad you chose to share this heartfelt and what had to be difficult but maybe cathartic post this week.
    Hugs and prayers.
    pamela at BeColorful

  • http://twitter.com/MercyINK Lauren Mills

    Oh my you have me in tears. What a moving, remarkable tribute! I’m so grateful you linked up Austen’s story at mercyINK. Will be featuring tomorrow. blessings, lauren

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  • Kim~madeinaday

    What a beautiful story…my best friend passed away 15 years ago at the young age of 28 form cancer as well. Thanks for sharing her story on Made in a Day.
    Kim

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