Monday, July 9, 2012

Love & Loss: R.I.P. Justin Morris

I spent a lot of time the past few days thinking about love and loss. But, no, it's not what it seems, there's no love story to chronicle, no boy meets girl plot to sparkle and fade. The kind of love I'm talking about is, in my opinion, a much deeper, more poignant kind of love. I'm talking about the love you experience with your friends and family. The people who are with you through the up's and down's, through the evolution of your life's romantic relationships, those who are there at your rock bottom's and your highest highs. I would be lying if I said I was emotionally evolved enough to be so appreciative of these people every second of every day of my life, because I'm not. I, like anyone else, have appreciation that waxes and wanes. Like all people, I am, and always will be, a work in progress. However, a few days ago, one of the universes twisted and albeit cruel awakenings, helped to wake me up and remind me to keep appreciating.

On Saturday, July 7th, which just happened to be my 28th birthday, I learned a great friend from high school passed away that day in a horribly unfortunate accident. He was not my best friend, but he was the kind of friend who no matter how long it had been since you had seen him, you counted him as good a friend as you did years earlier and a welcoming smile when he did pop back up into your life. Justin was a genuinely sweet guy, who was always loyal and warm. My memories of our friendship will always be something I cherish, he was a person who constantly surprised me, in a good way, in the times I was closest with him. When I got my drivers license, he was the first person I drove to school with (although my Mom thought I obeyed her wishes that I don't drive with anyone else in the car to distract me, sorry Mom!). I picked him up every morning before school after that for a long time. Sleepy eyes, groggy smile, Green Day and of course, pop tarts, which he typically left remnants of in my car daily. That was a typical morning for us. No matter how much I was dreading the school day, he could always make me laugh, even when he pissed me off by sleeping past his alarm and making us late.

When I heard of Justin's passing, his smile immediately flashed in my head and I was 17 again. I was shocked, saddened, confused. I was a million different things, but his smile remained frozen in my head. I have a feeling, that happened to everyone who was lucky enough to have known him. That smile really got me thinking.

In my life of up's and down's, I have loved, do love and will love, a lot of people. I have also lost, am losing and will lose a lot of people as well. I have (sometimes to my own detriment), lived my life with an open heart. I have never been afraid to tell people and show people that I love them, and Justin's untimely passing reminded me that I never should. The whole live every day like it's your last thing, always sounded so cliche to me, but I think I've changed my mind. To live like you might not have tomorrow to let people know you love and appreciate them, to give them a smile, a hug, a laugh or even forgiveness, is a challenge, but it can be done. It just means you have to keep things in perspective and keep an open heart. Justin's passing happened at a time in my life where, I will be the first to admit, has been fairly dark and  I was beginning to feel like it'd be a good idea to close my heart up for self preservation purposes. Then I thought of his magnetic smile in that split second, and all those good memories. I remembered that I have countless people in my life who I love, and who love me, despite how present they are or are not in my daily life, they are there, and I'm there too. And I appreciate that and love those people, more than they probably have ever known.

Today, I spent the afternoon digging through old pictures, and watching a home video of my last day as a Senior in high school. I was reminded of all the people I loved back then, and realized how much I still love them now, years later. I thought of all the people who are currently an everyday part of my life, and how much I love them. I thought of Justin's family and closest friends, and how much they must be hurting. I wanted to do something to help, but what can you do really? You can love.

This is my contribution. This little blog post, is love. Justin was, is and will be loved, and in the past few days, that has become overwhelmingly apparent by the outpouring from friends and family who will miss him dearly. All of those who were lucky enough to have him in our lives for any amount of time, I'm sure count themselves lucky to have known him, I know I do. Thank you Justin, for helping to remind me to never stop loving, and to never let what could be said today, wait until tomorrow.

Rest In Peace, Justin Morris. I will never forget your smile.


Anonymous said...

I worked with Justin for about a year and a half (2009-2010). As you mentioned, the first image that came to mind was him smiling. It didn't matter how much work he had to do, he would always crack a smile when talking with anyone. After reading this, I began to tear-up because I found that he has been like that his entire life. Always smiling, never staying mad, and making everyone else feel better about everything. 

He was a great friend, co-worker, and an amazing person. The world lost a great man. 

Your post was exactly what I needed to read and I thank you for taking the time to make your thoughts public to help the rest of us deal with this tragedy. 

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