One moment Austin Haley was fishing with his grandfather.
The next, he was gone.
On Aug. 3, two Noble police officers were trying to kill a snake in a neighboring yard — by shooting at it. A bullet ricocheted and struck 5-year-old Austin in the head, killing him.
Just like that.
Losing a child is never easy and never fair, but mourning parents often blame themselves for accidents of timing that could not have been prevented.
“The grief is just so tremendously hard at the very beginning, because it’s all you can think about ... but then it gets to be a little less often,” said Renee Haley, Austin’s mother.
Renee and her husband, Jack Haley, have been learning hard lessons over the past 10 months: how to cope, how to go on, how to forgive.
They rely on their extended family for comfort. They review old photographs and videos to keep Austin alive in their minds. They talk about him to anyone who will listen. Most of all, they put their faith in God.
“It’s still very hard, but we just live day by day,” Jack Haley said. “God sees us through, and we see each other through.”
That faith, he said, is what sustained them through the quiet periods after the funeral, when they were alone in a home with one less person in it.
“We still get angry,” Renee Haley said. “We still feel sadness, and we still feel grief. ... Sometimes you can feel all those emotions at exactly one time, and you don’t know what you feel.