I heard some very sad news yesterday. A young man I knew from youth group in high school passed away yesterday. He was only a couple of years older than I am. In other words, much, much too young.
We were never friends, but had mutual friends. A couple of times I was invited to his house for get togethers. We probably had fewer than five conversations in all of our time in the same social circle, and I doubt if sometime this year he had seen me on the street, he would recognize or remember me. But I remember him.
When my friend texted me the news, I didn't have to scour my memory to place the name. Instead, his face immediately came to mind.He was probably 18 the last time I saw him, but he was someone you just don't forget meeting. He was just ALIVE. He was one of those people who was smiling even when he wasn't. In our few conversations, he always, ALWAYS made me laugh. It struck me just now that I hadn't thought of Justin since, well, likely the last time I saw him. We weren't friends, and he was never what I would have considered an integral part of my life. But I never forgot his name, or his face.
There is a Facebook group dedicating to remembering Justin's life. I've been reading through the posts and looking at pictures, and am blown away by this man's love for life. An MBA Student, World Traveler, Salsa Dancer, brother, son, FRIEND. A man of God with incredible, inspiring faith. It is tempting for us to see this tragedy as senseless, as a waste. It is almost impossible not to feel that way. But in less than 24 hours, this facebook group presently has 631 members, 19 of which joined in the past thirty minutes. SIX-HUNDRED and THIRTY-ONE. In 24 hours. They say your life was a success if you touched but one other life during your time on earth. This remarkable young man lived in such a way that hundreds are better for knowing him, however briefly. A tragedy, absolutely. But a waste? I wouldn't say so. No one knows why this life was cut so short, but it is evident in so many ways that his memory, just like his life, will be used for good.
Justin,I did not know you very well or for very long, but your life is an inspiration to me and so many others. I pray that we will remember you when we are discouraged, or forget to celebrate every day we are given. I will not tell you to rest in peace. I know you have found peace, but choose to believe that you are not resting, but continuing to dance. You are loved, and you are missed, but you are home.
2 weeks ago