Friday, October 1, 2010

RE: Number 8 is Number 1...A Tribute to My Daughter's Friend, Justin

October 1, 2010

Today is Justin Butler's Memorial which will be a celebration of his life
Friday, October 1, 2010, 5:30 p.m., the Bear River High School football field; Grass Valley, CA

My Daughter’s Friend, Justin

My daughter told me that he was the first one to reach out and connect with her in their English class last year. Anybody who has ever changed schools at any time in any year, let alone the middle of the sophomore year, knows how much that meant to her.

But that was the essence of who Justin was and you can see it in frame after frame of pictures that are posted to his Facebook account which now serves as a memorial to him. Grieving friends have added to a growing list of emotional posts, each more poignant than the one that preceded it.

Whether it’s his beloved football action shots, his sweet prom portrait, or the photos of his devoted family, he radiates liveliness, joy, and friendliness. In fact, if you met Justin you were his friend instantly, so not only is his entire junior class of peers hurting, but everyone who had the pleasure of making his acquaintance is as well. His fans are not confined to any certain age or type.

You see, he represented what youth is really like and, specifically, he represented what the beautiful students at Bear River High School are really like, who are a community like no other. They take care of each other, love each other, connect to each other and at no time will they need those admirable traits more than right now.

It’s a fact that us Mama Bears love everyone who is good to our kids. I would have liked to have the opportunity to chaperone next year’s senior all-night party, cross Justin’s path and create one of those awkward moments us parents are famous for. I would have thanked him for reaching out to my daughter, for helping her with math and for being such a true friend.

There will be memorials, there will be dedications, but there will be no all-night graduation party for Justin. Though our kids are going forward admirably, showing strength and determination to live a life of purpose as a tribute to Justin, nothing will ever be the same.

I watch my daughter walk determinedly out the door this morning, on her way to school, wearing a headband with Justin’s #8 emblazoned boldly on the front, in remembrance of her friend. Hot tears press on my eyelids as I log onto Facebook and find Justin’s page. I look at his beautiful family and silently thank them for Justin and I thank him for being the most excellent friend a mom’s kid could have.

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