Austin Box's parents share memories of their son

BY BRYAN PAINTER bpainter@opubco.com Published: July 12, 2011
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— The face of Gail Box bears the pain her heart is suffering.

It's visible. But she describes her late son, Austin Box, as a “silent sufferer.”

On May 19, Craig and Gail Box's son died at age 22. According to an informational copy of a state toxicology report released Monday by his parents, Austin had five different painkillers in his system when he died.

Both parents seriously doubt long-term addiction, and they do not believe for a moment that it was suicide.

What they are absolutely certain of is a deep, deep everlasting love for their son, and that has brought an equally deep pain.

Among that sickening pain, Gail said is the feeling that Austin believed he had to carry everything on his shoulders.

Austin was a pleaser, a leader and didn't complain about anything.

She wishes that is one thing he wouldn't have been so good at. She wishes he hadn't been a “silent sufferer.”

Managing pain

The family said it is with much sadness that they look back and see that recently Austin had turned to other methods of managing his pain. Those are methods they hope if others are using, they will see the tragic accident that claimed the life of their child, not be “silent sufferers” and think about the consequences.

Those consequences were evident Monday as Craig and Gail Box sat in the living room of their home joined by friend, the Rev. Wade Burleson of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Enid, who performed their son's funeral.

Three books were stacked on a coffee table — “life after the death of my son,” “The Death of a Child” and “Beyond tears.”

Yet Gail held only one book in her lap, as well as a T-shirt.

In the case of the latter, they went one day to Austin's apartment to clear out his things. Gail noticed her son had a basket of dirty laundry. Her initial thought was that she would take it and wash his laundry one last time. But, instead, for now, it is a reminder. The OU T-shirt she held Monday has Austin's scent.

It's something many refer to only as dirty laundry, yet it is a sweet connection for a mother whose child was just taken from her.

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