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THE POET HAS SPOKEN…UNCLE GREG’S WORDS FOR JUSTIN’S BIRTHDAY

My brother Greg in his consistent manor penned a poem in honor of Justin’s 23rd Birthday. I just saw it this morning in my unopened email and it is worth sharing. Thank you Greg for finding the words.

 September 13, 2019 

Celebrate Today and Make a Difference Each Day in Between 

Every year our birthday is the one day we look forward to celebrate. 

365 days in between each one sure is a long time to wait. 

Do you twiddle your thumbs counting the hours and days until your special day arrives? 

Or do you wake up each day and continue to thrive? 

Some wish for special things to make their day complete. 

Others do things that change lives even for strangers they just happen to meet. 

“Every day is a day of Thanksgiving, “a wise man once said. 

So, there’s no reason that we all can’t make a difference as soon as we exit our beds. 

I also know a wise young man who had a special way of celebrating between his special day. 

He continues to inspire us all in many ways. 

So, when you blow out your candles on that three-layer cake. 

Wish for some ways that you can make a difference for goodness sake. 

Happy Birthday Justin, you’re sure one of a kind and your presence will never cease. 

And one day I truly believe we will achieve world peace! 

Love Uncle Greg Toler (aka UGT) 

Justin and his Uncle Greg
Justin and his Papa Burl Toler the Wise Man Who often said : “Everyday is a Day of Thanksgiving…”
Justin and his Papa, Uncles and Cousins
Justin teaching his cousins how to perform…
Metta World Peace (former NBA Player) with Elizabeth Gregory holding a Justin Carr Poster
Photo Credit Beth Stokes
Gift Created by Felicia
From Africa with Love and a Message for World Peace

What Would Justin Turning 23 Look Like for Me? HAPPY BIRTHDAY JUSTIN!!!

Happy Heavenly Birthday—There is no other apropos greeting, right?

What Would  Justin Turning 23 Look Like for Me?

Yesterday the TV screen flashed a 23andMe genetic testing commercial. It only reinforced the inner feelings that I have been carrying heavy in my heart this month because Justin would have turned 23 years old today. So, I asked myself: “What Would Justin Turning 23 Look Like for Me?” People often ask me: “What do you think Justin would look like today? How would he wear his hair? Would he have a mustache or a beard? Where would he be working? What would he be designing? What would he think about the world we live in today?”

Justin, you were our star that was born on Friday, September 13, 1996.  It was our lucky day. Your birth and your life certainly continue to demand all the lights, cameras and action as they were on the first day you were born, and your air-breathing began. You opened your eyes and looked at me. T

Throughout your short 16 years, you continued to breathe life into others. Your little life took shape and you grew physically and your yearning to learn never stopped. You became a master of insight. When you were only 4 years old you asked God: “Help us achieve world peace.”  When you were 9 you wrote a note to Santa Claus: “ All I want for Christmas is World Peace.” You wanted to make this world better and a more inclusive place. You did your part. You have left us simple instructions to live by.

Justin loved planning and celebrating his birthday—and Darrell and I did too! The only time that he got mad was when he turned 13. We gave him a surprise party. He felt bad when he got to school the next day because he was confronted by his peers who were not invited… He did not know what to say when he was confronted so he took it out on me. He was used to going to his friends Sweet 16, Bar Mitzvahs and Bat Mitzvahs and parties.  He had heard that his cousin Taylor (who was his inspiration for a lot of things)  had her own “soul” version of a bat mitzvah and so he talked about wanting a “ Bro Mitzvah”. So that’s exactly what Darrell and I planned for his 13th Surprise party at the Lucky Strike at LA Live. You were surprised Justin and everyone enjoyed bowling, eating, listening to the coolest DJ, great food and dancing. It was fun!

Flashback of Birthday Memories
Taylor and Justin
Justin’s Surprise 13th Birthday Party

Any parent who has lost a child can only begin to even imagine how their child would change physically and mentally over the years. We have to put our imagination into full throttle as our thoughts take off. We can only create in our hearts and minds picture perfect images of what our children would look like. God bless us all as we try and live in this world called life without our children. There are some tough days but the sun does come out. It’s okay to Dare to Dream too!

Some things we can only leave to our imagination.

Justin was in the process of trying to grow his hair out in twists. He had just started shaving but I think today he might be sporting a mustache to mimic his Dad. 

Halloween Costume dressing up like his teacher Mr. Gaston

If he had majored in Architecture, he would be finishing up his 5th year of college.

Cal Poly SLO Architecture Camp
Cal Poly Architecture Camp

If he had majored in Technical Theater design, he might be creating a set for the next Broadway show in NYC?

Wesleyan College Technical Theatre Design Summer Program Justin’s Set and Design

But, he also could have changed his major to whatever he wanted.

I also know that as often as possible Justin would have been assisting the underserved or those whose lives have been ravaged from the aftermath of pain and suffering or natural disasters.  He would be speaking his truth, standing on the right side of democracy and carrying all of the “C”eeds of Peace” (Compassion, Courage, Commitment, Conflict Resolution, Community) and doing his best to make the world a better place.

Our DNA indeed tells the story of how you’re connected to populations around the world.

Justin was proud of his heritage and his multicultural aunts, uncles and cousins and his wide array of friends from all walks of life, culture and religions.

Ironically, today my brother Martel sent us his results from his genetic testing. Marty as I call him, love for his nephew Justin is literally shown as a tatoo on his arm. The tatoo is of Justin’s actual signature.

Uncle Marty’s Personal and Loving Tatoo
Justin and Uncle Marty

We are  Sub-Saharan African, European, East Asian & Native American. From Darrell’s test results he is Sub Saharan African, English and Native American. So, combining these makes Justin carry a little bit of everyone in his ancestry. He was proud of who he was. He loved being an African American. Accepting others despite their differences should be simple.

Thanks to Father Leo LaRocca the children in Uganda know about Justin
Beautiful Children of Uganda

Words Matter so I will leave this Birthday Post dedication with Justin’s words and the words of others:  

Jeanne M. Huybrecht’s, head of Harvard-Westlake schools, wrote in an email on the day Justin died…

“It is impossible for me to summarize all that Justin was in just a few sentences,”

“Scholar, athlete, singer, actor, ebullient child, he was an extraordinary young man by any measure.”

My words to Justin…

Justin you were born to fly. You were a young renaissance man on a mission who was a Reflective Humanitarian ,with a Copious Personality and infectious smile, Who Created Voraciously, Who Gave Love Naturally, With Heart Filled with Life.

Justin loved the poet Langston Hughes and I think some of his brilliance channeled through Justin… Justin felt he was the “darkest brother” in many environments. Yet that did not stop him…

BY LANGSTON HUGHES

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.

They send me to eat in the kitchen

When company comes,

But I laugh,

And eat well,

And grow strong.

Tomorrow,

I’ll be at the table

When company comes.

Nobody’ll dare

Say to me,

“Eat in the kitchen,”

Then.

Besides,

They’ll see how beautiful I am

And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.

In Justin’s own words when he described himself in 6 words:

 “Darkest in Water, Brightest on Stage”

Justin’s Poem he wrote 3 weeks before he died for English homework. Darrell and I did not see it until months later.

After Langston Hughes”
 Theme for English III

By: Justin Eugene Carr
 ©2013

The instructor said,


Go home and write
a page tonight.


And let that page come out of you— Then it will be true”

I am an only child.


Not one of three, 


Just me.

I go to a school where I feel like a fly in a bowl of milk. 

Alone.

Walking down halls where I am one of three… 

Or at least one of the few with dark skin like me.

The kinks in my hair and the dark skin I wear connects me to the trailblazers 

Who struggled to clear paths in order to make my journey easier.


As I walk through the white halls with the white walls,


I see the footsteps of Martin, Malcolm, and Coretta before me.

Their pain and suffering endured just so I can be me,

Free.

In my classroom,


I don’t sit in the back waiting to be called on


Because the sea of seats are all available to me.


It’s hard for me to imagine


Being stationed in the back just like my mother and father were, 

Where they couldn’t even see,
that they were lacking opportunity.

I turn on the TV to see faces with brown tones

Sing through microphones,


Not of yesterday’s sorrows,


As the wounds have healed leaving scars of remembrance

Then I look back at me and what do I see? 

Not a rapper or a ball player,


But a boy with dreams.


Goals.

Promise.

Opportunity.

So, for me, if Justin were here we would of course celebrated him in some form or fashion today– wherever in the world he may have been. I would hope that he was happy, taking care of himself and others, thriving in his own way, doing his best and being comfortable in his own skin. I know that he still would be so much taller than me, his smile would still be beautiful, I would welcome dancing with him in the kitchen and I would continue to let him be and he would roll his eyes at me and tell me to calm down!. That is Justin Turning 23 Would Look Like for Me…

 Justin even though you finished your life here on earth at the young age of 16 but we will honor and remember you all the days of our life.  

Justin’s Artwork from 4th grade

Justin, You are beautiful. You were a true American. He always said that people are really connected and we are all family!

Happy 23rdBirthday, Honey!

I love you more and your Dad aka “ Darnel” loves you always. We miss you .

Dad’s favorite place to sneak a meal
Birthday Celebrations
My Baby
Father and Son
Justin helping to build a home in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina

LOVE LIFE

IT’S BEEN A WHILE SO GRAB A SEAT…

Somehow, I learned that when Justin died it was the day that the world changed not just for us but for many. I can’t believe it’s been 6 years and counting that our precious son Justin – our young Renaissance man left this earth. We all remember what we were doing at the time kind of a similar shock to when the attacks of 9-11 hit or the assassinations of JFK and MLK— but this time it was my boy wonder who was a mere 16!! However, I must say that I smile sometimes because Justin’s character and mission for world peace ripples have crossed the waters.

“It was the 22 of February

The day I’ll always Remember

You see that was the day that my baby died.”


Over the years I have been able to put pieces of his last hours together. And now on this Mother’s Day I am happy to report that Justin was  indeed LOVING LIFE!

  • He called me about an hour before he actually died. He was happy he was seemingly healthy we did not know he had a heart condition. He was in his element. He told me he was bringing Molly to Pasadena so they could go to see her Moms production of Hair Spray. He had been campaigning for his school to do a  stage production more relevant and diverse. He often laughed out loud hearing his favorite Theatre teacher Reese Pugh — who was not as familiar with the show. He called “Hair Spray” “Hair Gel”. lol The next year with Reese at the helm, the high school cast lived out Justin’s dream.

So after Justin finished school that day…

  • His friend told me that they were in the theatre talking for a few hours . He told her that she should go ahead and write that children’s book she always dreamed of doing and that should not be a failure in the eyes of her parents!!! He assured her that it was possible she could live her life just the way she planned because “ My parents let me do the things I like to do.” Justin was living his best life and also encouraging his friends to do the same.
  • He had been secretly video recording Birthday greetings for Chanell with her with his school mates and teachers and choir director ” Rodger ” as the kids fondly called him behind his back
  • He was excited that he would be a guest dancer in 8  parts of the upcoming show.
  • Poolside he was singing one of his favorite Beyonce’s song with his girl Chanell “ End of Time”  OMG!!!!!

End of Time

Beyoncé

…“Take, you away, from here
It’s nothing between us but space, and time
I’ll be your own little star, let me shine you up
Or your own little universe make me your girl”…

He met his teammate Nina for the first time that day… She later found the words and shared her story to us and said that Justin taught her how to dance like nobody is watching…

He was happy.  He was “ Loving Life”

Justin’s littlest cousins were just 2, 2 ,7  and 12 at the time. In their own way, they carry their big cousin Juju with them. Kids grieve too you know so never discount them. They know when familiar things change.

  • JJ who at 8 years old now plays his sports like he is a Junior Olympic style athlete and he wants to wear Justin’s favorite number on his football jersey. My sisters say that JJ rolls his eyes and moves out furniture to flips cartwheels– just as Justin did… Justin was a Junior Olympic Swimmer you know…
Justin and his little cousins

  • Dashton is the builder- the Methodical thinker and the swimmer. He can still say Juju’s name with a BIG smile without any hesitation.
  • Mia ,the dancer, and artist is quiet and growing up fast. She still seems unsure of how to face the loss of her favorite cousin Juju who used to dance, sing , play and draw with her.
  • Dylan is making her mark taking care of business in high school and being a good friend. I’m sure she would allow only her cousin Justin to drive her fresh new car.
  • Justin’s older Cousins  Christianna, Burly, Cam, Pita, and Beina are all doing good by adding to the family tree, teaching and coaching others who need it the most, helping underserved students, and just being the best mentors that they could be.

I hope the two littlest cousins Bo and Hendrix whom he never got the chance to meet, learn a bit about their cousin Juju in the days and years to come. I see Hendrix knows all about the JCWWP luggage tags that have made their way around the world.


I think Justin made his mark and had spread his wings worldwide on so many levels. Some of his peers choose a different route besides college and that is perfectly ok because we are all not the same and everyone has their unique passions. I choose happiness vs. prestigue.

Post College Graduation Justin’s peers are doing their thing:

  • Working in the Visual & Performing Arts
  • Writing & Creating music and films
  • Working casual jobs, for non-profits, social justice, underserved populations, in all areas across the spectrum including teaching and working on Wall Street
  • In Graduate Schools
  • One of his” world traveler” friends continues to make her mark around the world helping others. She was the Rhode Scholar candidate for her university!!!! So proud of her!!
  • One young man who heard Justin’s story now is preparing himself to attend Medical School to become a cardiologist.
  • Another young lady is teaching 4th-grade students. She includes social justice in her curriculum- you see you are never too young to learn right from wrong we are the mirrors of the children.
  • His Best Friends are in law school
  • Butterflies are a part of my life the color turquoise will shield me in some way and my mothering instincts will never ever leave me. I recently read that Duchess Megan wore a turquoise necklace when the world met baby Archie for peace and tranquility. I like that choice!!

Photo by LUNAPEAKCOMPANY.COM


Justin’s absence does make the heart grief founder.

Darrell starts one project after another and continues to work in his garden.

Honoring his love of his only son through the art that he creates- art… especially what he gave me last night.

Today I played Natalie Coles Song ” I MISS YOU LIKE CRAZY” forJustin and some of the words I can definitely relate.



“I miss you like crazy, I miss you like crazy
Ever since you went away, every hour of every day
I miss you like crazy, I miss you like crazy
No matter what I say or do, there’s just no getting over you”

Love you the talented Darrell always Justin’s Dad and for taking thousands of pictures and as this collage shows every picture tells a story!

I was wondering what Darrell Carr was working on these past 4 days.Well last night he surprised me with his crown jewel piece of art. He told me “ I did not know what to get you so I made this… I cried many a night looking at all these pictures of our son we created. “ I was on the floor – again and not holding back any tears and neither was Darrell. He said” I wanted to blend Justin’s picture into his piece of art, that’s the butterfly that flew on your finger in Costa Rico and all of these are pictures I took over the years. You are Justin Carr World-Peace mom!”



OK I’M ALMOST DONE…

A few weeks ago my local style ” Marie Kondo- the organizer Connie who was introduced to me by Jeru (the connector) is a true delight as she helped me clear my brain. She is spunky, fast and non- judgemental. 

She held my hand when I found some hidden treasures tucked away. My heart skipped a beat when my eyes viewed the party drawer with the GI Joe and Harry Potter cake pans and the abundance of Bday cake candles, Easter egg kits, pumpkin carving tools, and Justin’s popcorn boxes from parties. But I hit the floor when I found a ceramic vase that Justin made I think in 8th grade because it profoundly said:

“ LOVE LIFE”

One thing I know for certain is that Justin did “ Love Life” this is the greatest gift of all. Remember- you should too. You never know what tomorrow will bring so, make that cake and be sure to eat it too!

I think that is what he would want me to do today is to “Love Life”

Happy Mother’s Day to any women with a heart who dare to love and help a child. My thoughts for the readers today…Sometimes you just have to stop and smell the flowers.

Love Life, Love your Family and Friends and spend time with those who are important to you. And Don’t forget to teach the children well. You are the mirrors for how they learn and live.

Justin, I love you forever and will miss you always and I am glad I have been gifted the chance to be your Mother, Mom, and Crazy Over the Top Olivia (OTTO) Forever and Daddy and I will continue to fight on!

THE OTHER SIDE OF MOTHER’S DAY

A few weeks ago I was approached by Codie Oliver the Co-Founder of BlackLove.com. She wrote this piece and prepared this video of me as I speak my truth about being Justin’s Mom. Happy Mother’s Day to every woman. I know that in some way you have touched a child, young adult or adult in a mothering way. Please read Codie’s story and watch the videos. I’m good enough today as I honor and remember Justin 24/7 and so glad to be his Mom.

The Other Side of Motherhood



In addition, BlackLove.com sent out an Instagram post and over 38k people have viewed it as of this morning. Although I don’t recognize myself with makeup on I think my message is honest, loud and clear.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BxVHgtTlgNC/

In addition, I am part of a project with Luna Peaks about living with loss. I was approached by a creative young woman Gracelyn who is with the sudden loss of her Dad and helping others who live with loss.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BxJkF0vBtz8/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=154omt50xuryn

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JUSTIN- YOU ARE FOREVER YOUNG!

Well, the spirit has hit me on the eve of Justin’s Birthday, I had to put pen to paper as we celebrate a life we loved and honor and remember the love we lost— our pride and joy—Justin.

It was the 13th of September 1996. This day I always remember.  That was the day that Justin Eugene Carr was born!! Justin would be 22 years old today.  What would he look like?  How tall would he stand? Would he have a mustache like his Dad aka “Darnell” as Justin fondly called him? Would his hair be in the trending broccoli style, mini dreadlocks, big afro or buzz cut? 

MISSING THOSE  SIMPLE THINGS

Where would he be? What would he be doing? One  thing I know for sure is that he should have graduated from college this past June albeit that never happened— along with all those other “ings” like going to the prom with his bestie Chanell, driving, applying to colleges, graduating from high school, going away to college, collaborating, enjoying THAT college experience, working, talking, strategizing, studying, playing, designing, applauding, acting, voting, helping, protesting or arguing for right or arguing with Darrell and me (if we were wrong in his eyes,) drinking libations? – although,  I’m not so sure about that. The few times when he was in the presence of underage drinking he would tell people that he was allergic to alcohol. That stopped all enquires on the spot.  Justin would be encouraging, helping others who are fraught or out of sorts, or just staying in the mix, sitting at our table for shared meals, eating Thai food, playing and engaging with his littlest cousins and surrendering to his older cousins even though he would be looking down on them— he loved that he was the tallest of the cousins.  Justin would be building and creating with his Dad, rolling his eyes at his aunties, telling me  I am Over the Top Olivia (OTTO), shopping with his uncles, dancing, singing, swimming, crying, laughing, loving, grooving to Beyonce marrying, parenting, and of course smiling a whole lot as he was living his best life and of course celebrating many Birthdays in real time.  

Hanging With His Auntie


Spending time with Papa and the Cousins

Dancing and Singing with the little cousins

Hugging his cousin Coco

Easter Partying with his cousins

Styling with his Auntie












Test Driving with Dad

Measuring up to his Big Cousins

Sporting New Shoes that his cool Uncle Martel purchased

Hanging with his cousins Riko and Mako

 

Rolling his eyes before swimming

Justin loved celebrating his birthday. He had surprise parties, family gatherings and so many unique birthday parties themed to whatever occasion was the highlight in his life from Gymboree to Disneyland, slipping  and sliding with his “brothers” Sean and Miles, making volcanos that actually erupted, watching a marionette puppet show in the backyard to sleepovers, bowling, laser tag, sports  themes, magic mountain adventures. He often had two parties. One with his friends and one with family. Once he told Darrell that all he wanted for his birthday was for the family to come over and interface and talk and NOT TURN ON THE TV.  He hated it when the kids, women, and men were all interacting independently.  He wanted everyone to talk to each other without distractions – even though it was FOOTBALL SEASON.  It turned out really well and it was a beautiful gathering. Hours into it, Justin declared it was OK to turn on the TV.  I think he got tired of talking to everyone.

Blowing out Candles

Getting Surprised at his 16th Party With Chanell

Slip & Sliding with Sean and Miles

Slurping down icy’s

Wishing before Blowing






And of course, we never strayed far from our childhood family tradition of being able to have your favorite food and cake on your special day.  He had custom cakes. Justin loved the white on white famous Costco cake, and Violets custom cakes hit Pasadena. He had a swimmers cake and custom cupcakes he designed with Mickey Mouse hats. I even made a volcano cake that actually erupted (with dry ice). Once I made the mistake of putting his basketball ice cream cake in the freezer for so long that we could not cut it.  He said “ Mom it really did not look like a basketball so we don’t need it anymore…




Justin did not really ask for a lot of stuff.  He was grateful for the gifts and he was diligent about handwritten thank you cards for each thing he received.  

Do things get better 5 years later after losing a child?  In all honesty, the answer is No.  Grief is the natural response to a  change in the familiar. There is no timeline or method. What we had as a family, what Justin’s peers lost of having him in their lives on campus or just a phone call, text or Skype away, what a school community had or never had will never be realized beyond his last day on Earth. It was the day everything in the world changed.  Justin was a gift to our family, to his peers, teachers and even strangers. Because of the intermittent touch points,  we receive from people, the ripples of his goodness live on.

So will celebrate forever. Justin still lives with us.  We carry him with us where ever we go. He is in my backpack. People don’t know what we carry.  People carry Justin with them to places he will never go.  His message of world peace has traveled to all 7 continents through JCWWP t-shirts, luggage cards, artwork, and bracelets.

On the Western Wall in Jerusalem

Tanzania with JCWWP tag and his cousins

Some of his friends engraved his initials inside of their class rings, wrote their college essays about him, placed pictures of Justin on their dorm room walls or in the Western Wall in Jerusalem, near Pyramids in Peru or recent in Tanzania. They made bedspreads with the JCWWP logo and even framed the logo on their kitchen walls.  Justin also shows up in his friend’s good deeds when they help others struggling   — in similar ways that Justin would have helped.  And we were beyond thrilled when even during recent graduation ceremonies, his peers added their Justin” isms” on their graduation cap with butterflies, #JCWWP or the peace sign. Some added might and energy to the plight and fight for justice for others during their college days, some changed their majors in favor of what they wanted to be. Some of his friends wrote songs, poems, music, and others continue to put the power to pen,  write, communicate with us through letters, phone calls, thoughts of remembrance, hugs or with words that touched us to the core. One of his friends left her purse in an NYC taxi cab by mistake.  When the next passenger entered she looked in the bag and saw the JCWWP card and contacted me. I figured out who she was and the purse was returned in tack within a matter of hours!

Look at this amazing message that came when I needed it the most. A gift indeed!

So with each butterfly we see in flight dancing and floating in the air we pause for cause because we think of Justin our butterfly swimmer. 

 


These are meaningful gifts and THINGS  we truly love as we honor and remember, our son, your friend, cousin, nephew, student, teammate, classmate or even if you learned about him after he died.  Darrell and I are certainly proud that we allowed Justin to BE all that he wanted to be during his short life– and he was happy doing those things too.  So, parents, I hope you place “happy child” above all things as your children try and are their authentic selves.  Justin  will forever be remembered as he coined his personal phase for the class assignment when he had to describe himself in six words: 

“DARKEST IN THE WATER BRIGHTEST ON STAGE”

                         And for us,  Justin will be Forever Young!

Forever Young

Rod Stewart

May the good Lord be with you down every road you roam.

And may sunshine and happiness surround you when you’re far from home.

And my you grow to be proud, dignified and true.

And do unto others as you’d have done to you.

Be courageous and be brave.

And in my heart, you’ll always stay

Forever young. (Forever young)

Forever young. (Forever young)

May good fortune be with you, may your guiding light be strong,

Build a stairway to heaven with a prince or a vagabond.

And may you never love in vain.

And in my heart, you will remain

Forever young. (Forever young)

Forever young. (Forever young)

Forever young. Forever young

And when you fin’lly fly away, I’ll be hoping that I served you well.

For all the wisdom of a lifetime, no one can ever tell.

But whatever road you choose, I’m right behind you win or lose,

Forever young. (Forever young)

Forever young. (Forever young)

Forever young. Forever young

For forever young

HAPPY 22ND BIRTHDAY JUSTIN

You will be Forever Young and always in our hearts.

Love Mom & Dad

Life is Not Always a Cake Walk

Life is Not Always a Cake Walk

I remember the days when I would go to the Westridge Summer Camp Fair and find options for Justin to select for the summer. I must say that Justin was indeed aware and grateful that he was fortunate to be able to go places besides his front yard during the summer. I got there before the crowds and always managed to play my favorite childhood game.

Over the course of his life, Justin went to a slew of camps, many of which I found out about at this fair i.e. the NY Film Academy where he and his team made a movie about a boy getting bullied after school until he bounded with another boy and they became best friends. They stood up for each other when- others did not.

After his 4th-grade teacher told me “ I never call on Justin because I know he knows the answer- he will find his niche in college.” You know what I said back to her and what I did!!

I found the Institute for Educational advancement camp Yunasa (the Lakota Sioux word for “balance”). He went and he loved it. Yunasa supports the whole gifted child, encouraging growth and support of campers intellectually, socially, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. They allowed Justin to go at age 9-even though he was shy of the 11 year age start.

 

And then there was the Catalina Island Camp where we went EVERY year as a family because the Horner’s hosted our church. Justin learned how to snorkel, kayak, rock climb, and compost.

 

Then he found Harvard-Westlake Summer programs and the rest is history. He fell in love with the program, the school, and his mom on campus- Ms. Simon.

Up until last year, I was unable to even step foot near this fair. I took a leap of faith and chaperoned my friends who were looking for camp options for their kids. I was shielded on all sides by my friend Jenn, her husband and kids. I survived.

One of the things I loved about this fair was getting the chance to play was the good old fashion Cake Walk game.

Every year I would stand on a number and step to the music with the hopes of my number being called for cake. when the music stopped. Today was no different. I went to the fair to get materials for my friend. After entering, I told my friend Rene that I needed to make a stop at the Cake Walk game first. I bought tickets. I was shocked that the price had increased from $1 to $2, and I made a comment. The parent running it said kindly: “Inflation”. The music played and when the music stopped my number was not called. One of the working parents rushed over to me and said: “ Any adult playing this game with all of these kids deserves a cake!” I laughed and then said: Really? She said: Yes! She led me into the room and of course, I selected the best one on the table. The one that resembled a ” Susie Cake” It was from Becker Bakery. Don’t worry I will be sharing it with all of my neighbors.I then told the mother why I was even there to begin with- I shared Justin’s Story. I told her to love her daughter, don’t get caught in all of the hype and competition and let your child be. ” She hugged me and said she will remember what I said.

We scurried through the various booths and I was able to:
Hug Maria from Catalina Island Camp
Embrace Betsy- one of the founders of IEA
See Coach Bible who was one of Justin’s Swim coaches at H-W.
Bump into my friend Stephanie whom I just met 2 years ago. She was a mere stranger who found the words to confront me and not run away like some “friends” did. She was touched to the core by Justin’s story. She came up to me and said: “ You don’t know me but I went to your sons funeral. I was taken aback by your unimaginable loss. I only have one child… She told me a just a few weeks ago: “ I am both inspired and shamed that you as a mother of a child in heaven are more mother than 100 of us put together. I want to step up my game because of your example. I want to get closer to God because of your life of giving. You lift me up.”

They all mentioned Justin’s name. It feels good when other people are not afraid to mention my baby’s name. I love it when they do. And everyone said to me: It’s good to see you!”

When we left my friend Rene said: “ I don’t know how you do it and come to something like this. How do you feel? I said: “Life is not always a cake walk, I’m taking baby steps, and I carry Justin with me everywhere I go. He is walking with me now. ”

P.S.  The cake was packaged and wrapped in plastic wrap so I really did not see the actual colors until I came home.  Really!!

 

FREE HEART SCREENING

S.A.F.E. HEART SCREENING will perform the tests for ALL AGES 12-24 YEARS OLD

WHERE: HOLMAN UNITED METHODIST CHURCH 3320 West Adams Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90018
WHEN: SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2018 – 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

 

Justin Carr wanted World Peace since he was 4 years old. He loved swimming, design and performing arts.
He was vibrant and a seemingly healthy 16-year-old Junior at Harvard-Westlake high school. He died during his usual swim team practice from an undiagnosed heart condition on February 22, 2013. Darrell & Susan Carr want to save other families from dealing with an unimaginable loss that can be prevented.

According to Parent Heart Watch, “Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is not a heart attack – it’s the sudden onset of an abnormal and potentially fatal heart rhythm that causes the heart to beat ineffectively or not at all. The underlying cause of SCA can be a heart condition you’re born with (often inherited) and/or can develop as young hearts grow. SCA can also be triggered from a viral illness, or a blow to the chest from an object or a person.”

  • Screenings are non-invasive (no needles or x-ray
    exposures) and take about 20 minutes to complete.
  • Screenings include a health history review and ECG.
  • If the participant is under 18 years old and brings a
    fully signed/completed screening packet, parents do not
    need to be present at the event.
  • Female technicians screen girls in a separate area
    from boys. Private screening areas available as needed.
  • Participants should dress in t-shirt and sweat pants
    or sports shorts. Girls should wear a sports bra.
  • Instructions will be given if follow-up medical care is
    recommended. Final reports will be sent after the
    cardiologist formal review.

SIGN UP TODAY DO NOT DELAY!

CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW OR GO TO THE WEBSITE:

http://www.safeheartscreening.com

SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT


Contact: justincarrwwp@gmail.com
http://www.justincarrwantsworldpeace.org/

No Age Limit to learn street CPR or how to use an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED)

Flyer Download FREE HEART SCREENING_SAFE

 

Marching to the Beat of the Drum… My Hamilton Story


Marching to the Beat of the Drum… My Hamilton Story

Ending 2017 with a new beat.

Since 2015 my friend Amber kept telling how imperative it was for me to go see the play, “Hamilton.”

She ranted and raved that the cast and crew were magnificent and how Lin-Manuel Miranda is brilliant along with the whole production.  She literally saw it a half dozen times.

Amber with an original Hamilton Star in NYC

For two years I blocked out any notion of attending such a thing. I did not read anything related to the hype of Hamilton because I knew that it was going to be too painful to go to see any show without Justin who loved all things related to the theatre—the set designs, acting, songs, dancing and reading the PlayBills. I had to protect myself and march to the beat of my own drum so to speak. Then she sent me lyrics to ” Quiet Uptown” When I listened I felt such a connection to it because the song depicted the aftermath of Hamilton and his wife losing their only son. I had no idea. It was our reality. I listened to it often.
because “ SPOILER ALERT” Alexander Hamilton and his wife lost their only son too… Need I say more?

“It’s Quiet Uptown”

[Angelica:]
There are moments that the words don’t reach
There is suffering too terrible to name
You hold your child as tight as you can
And push away the unimaginable
The moments when you’re in so deep
It feels easier to just swim down

[Angelica/Ensemble:]
The Hamiltons move uptown
And learn to live with the unimaginable

[Hamilton:]
I spend hours in the garden
I walk alone to the store
And it’s quiet uptown
I never liked the quiet before
I take the children to church on Sunday
A sign of the cross at the door
And I pray
That never used to happen before

[Angelica and women:]
If you see him in the street, walking by
Himself, talking to himself, have pity

[Hamilton:]
Philip, you would like it uptown
It’s quiet uptown

[Angelica and women:]
He is working through the unimaginable

[All men (except Hamilton):]
His hair has gone grey. He passes every day
They say he walks the length of the city

[Hamilton:]
You knock me out, I fall apart

[Company (except Hamilton and Eliza):]
Can you imagine?

[Hamilton:]
Look at where we are
Look at where we started
I know I don’t deserve you, Eliza
But hear me out. That would be enough
If I could spare his life
If I could trade his life for mine
He’d be standing here right now
And you would smile, and that would be enough
I don’t pretend to know
The challenges we’re facing
I know there’s no replacing what we’ve lost
And you need time
But I’m not afraid
I know who I married
Just let me stay here by your side
That would be enough

[Company (except Hamilton and Eliza):]
If you see him on the street, walking by her
Side, talking by her side, have pity

[Hamilton:]
Eliza, do you like it uptown? It’s quiet uptown

[Company (except Hamilton and Eliza):]
He is trying to do the unimaginable
See them walking in the park, long after dark
Taking in the sights of the city

[Hamilton:]
Look around, look around, Eliza

[Company (except Hamilton and Eliza):]
They are trying to do the unimaginable

[Angelica:]
There are moments that the words don’t reach
There is a grace too powerful to name
We push away what we can never understand
We push away the unimaginable
They are standing in the garden
Alexander by Eliza’s side
She takes his hand

[Eliza:]
It’s quiet uptown

[Company (except Hamilton and Eliza):]
Forgiveness. Can you imagine?
Forgiveness. Can you imagine?
If you see him on the street, walking by her
Side, talking by her side, have pity
They are going through the unimaginable

Darrell works often in his butterfly garden for release and for dealing with our unimaginable loss.

A few years later in 2017 something finally hit me. When Darrell and I were discussing what to get Justin’s best friend aka “Twin” Chanell for her upcoming gift from graduating from the University of Michigan.

Justin and Chanell Twin Day at School 2012

Hamilton seemed like the perfect gift. We always like to give gifts that are memorable, usable and practical. She and Justin often sang through their homework nightly via Skype, they were in choir together, loved Beyonce and theatre. The last show they saw together was “Memphis” the Musical. The feeling I had inside was that it was ok to go and share the stage with Chanell and I would survive seeing it. I said to myself: You can do this!!  Justin would want this. He would say: “Mom you got this!”

Justin and his BF Chanell pose with the HW Diversity Award

In March I was fortunate to I was able to snatch up tickets for face value. I met Chanell for lunch after she graduated, I gave her an envelope. When she opened up the card her facial expression was priceless. I thought I was looking at Justin. She put her hand on her face, and ecstatically said: “ How did you get these tickets? OMG Center Orchestra? She had to take a picture to share with her close friends. She was so animated. She was overjoyed. She responded the way I thought Justin would have. It made me feel good.

Showtime was 6 months later. We got there early to savor the moment. Chanell was pinching me throughout, mouthing some of the songs and shaking her head. The twin effect was really working her. I thought that I was next to Justin for a few minutes.


Her hands went up in the air on the song “Just Say No” She knew all the words to every song!!!
:

“ Just say No…
There’s nothing like summer in the city
Someone under stress meets someone looking pretty
There’s trouble in the air, you can smell it
And Alexander’s by himself, I’ll let him tell it

I hadn’t slept in a week
I was weak, I was awake
You never seen a bastard orphan more in need of a break
Longing for Angelica
Missing my wife
That’s when Miss Maria Reynolds walked into my life, she said

I know you are a man of honor
I’m so sorry to bother you at home
But I don’t know where to go, and I came here all alone

She said

My husband’s doin’ me wrong
Beatin’ me, cheatin’ me, mistreatin’ me
Suddenly he’s up and gone
I don’t have the means to go on

So I offered her a loan, I offered to walk her home, she said

You’re too kind, sir

I gave her thirty bucks that I had socked away
She lived a block away, she said

This one’s mine, sir

Then I said, well, I should head back home
She turned red, she led me to her bed
Let her legs spread and said

StayHey

Hey

Hey

That’s when I began to pray
Lord, show me how to say no to this
I don’t know how to say no to this

But my God, she looks so helpless
And her body’s saying, hell, yes

Whoa

No, show me how to say no to this

I don’t know how to say no to this

In my mind, I’m tryin’ to go (go, go, go)

Then her mouth is on mine, and I don’t say

No, no (say no to this)
No, no (say no to this)
No, no (say no to this)
No, no (say no to this)

Like most, we thought the show was absolutely fabulous. The final song will be Darrell and my guide as we will always celebrate and remember Justin in all things that we do.

“ Who lives who dies who tells your story”
[WASHINGTON]
Let me tell you what I wish I’d known
When I was young and dreamed of glory
You have no control:

[WASHINGTON AND COMPANY]
Who lives
Who dies
Who tells your story?

It was close to midnight when we started making our way down the streets of Hollywood to our cars. We were yacking back and forth sharing our favorite songs.

All of the sudden, a random stranger wearing all black, a baseball cap and a backpack walking just a few steps in front of us turned his head and asked: “ Did you just see Hamilton?” Hesitantly, I said Yes. Did you? He turns around and shows this badge hanging around his neck and said: YES. I’M THE DRUMMER FOR THE SHOW. I thought for a minute, he is no stranger to me!! (lol) More tickets!!

 

We stopped in our tracks and I started asking a million questions. My first one, of course, was: “ Can you get me more tickets?” He laughed and said: You and everyone else!” Then I said: “Where did you learn how to play the drums?” He said he learned everything in the Public Schools of Oakland California. He raved about his mentors and teachers that he had. I said OMG, I’m from San Francisco. What schools did you go to? He told me that he was in the San Francisco Production of Hamilton too? I was amazed. As I said, I had a plate load of questions. What’s your call time? Do you sit in the pit? Where do you guys live? He said his drum set is so big, he has a room all to himself. I told him I was so glad that he was able to make a living out of the performing arts and beat to the rhythm of is own drums.!!!

He proceeds to tell us that he and his wife decided to get a place down here. They fell in love with a house that only had one open house. His wife wrote the owners a note. They were able to get it. When he told me the name of the city he lived I said OMG that is where I live. I then asked, What street?  When he responded I said OMG, OMG that street is just a few blocks from my house!!!!!!! And guess what, the name of his street means butterfly …

I then told him about Justin our butterfly the swimmer and his love for the visual and performing arts, how he saw Lion King 5 times and Wicked 5 times and Memphis 2 times, his connection to Chanell and how hard it was coming to this play because he would have loved all things about it. He paused and said: That is utterly sad about your son. I don’t know what to say. So glad you were able to come find some peace in this production!!! Let’s get together for breakfast soon.” He posed for a picture. I said, don’t forget to be sure to let me know if you ever have extra tickets. We all laughed and hugged each other.  Chanell and I were speechless. We just shook our head.

 

What are the chances that we meet the Hamilton orchestra drummer who was certainly playing that funky music with every beat of his drum? It was as if Justin was part of the plan. Timing is everything.  As we end 2017 I guess I have a little peace of mind as we venture into 2018 always Justin’s Mom #JC4WPMOM

 

I can’t make this stuff up!!  Just ask Chanell!!

Thanks Amber for insisting and giving me a little joy in this life as both of us know for sure it can change fast!!! Happy Birthday to you too!!

 

 

JCWWP 2017 YEAR IN REVIEW

Following is our year-end electronic card of what happened with the Justin Carr Wants World Peace Foundation in 2017.

I will writepeace” on your wings, and you will fly all over the world”.

Sadako Sasak

Darrell took this picture of a butterfly on Susan’s hand in Costa Rica

 

Dear Friends and Family,

Encouraging words in 2017 have helped us continue to move each day as we remember and honor our beloved son Justin.  Each year we receive so many great messages of hope and reflection from people we know and strangers as noted below. Social Media has been good to us. These highlighted messages below show how Justin still continues to impact even Those Who Never Met Him…

A 2017 FaceBook Message from  Mia Ehrenberg:

“Hi Mrs. Carr, I hope you are doing well. I met you several years back at the SDLC conference in Washington DC, which I attended as a student at Campbell Hall. I was touched by Justin’s story and even more so after hearing personal stories from Chris Lopez, who I’ve become close friends with since the conference. Anyway, I am writing today because I’ve recently become friends with some people on the swim team at Johns Hopkins (I am a sophomore here). I mentioned being from LA to a person on the team who wasn’t even from LA and had never met Justin, but they knew many stories about how talented and kind he was because they’d heard as much from the LA swimmers on the team. I thought it was really special how his legacy has spread because only a person as special as he was would inspire such sharing and memory. I thought you might want to know because while I know nothing can bring him back, I hoped it might help to know that Justin inspires so many of us and his legacy will live on with us. Thank you again for sharing his story with me that weekend at SDLC and I hope you have a lovely holiday season and new year.”  

This is a picture of Mia a rising star who found words and contacted us.


 

A 2017 JCWWP Website Message:

This message came from our website right around Justin’s birthday in September.  It gave us chills. It was indeed a gift.  We were able to meet this admirable student a few weeks ago when we spoke at the UCLA Saving Hearts Student Organization last month and had a chance meeting with Bryce. Lesson learned,  you never know who is watching or listening to you.

Country: usa
Message: My name is Bryce Bentley and I am a Junior at UCLA. I am the Student Coordinator for the UCLA Saving Hearts Foundation. I would like to speak with you regarding an event that we are planning in the Los Angeles area. We would like your help and input to provide free heart screenings to high school students. In 2015, Justin Carr’s parents spoke to a group of teenagers at a Jack and Jill event. I was one of those teens. Their heartfelt story has been in my thoughts since that day. Partly because of that, I became a pre-med student at UCLA with the intent of becoming a cardiologist. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Sincerely, Bryce Bentley

Bruin and Trojan together Susan and Bryce…

An Email Message from the 2017 Scholar

This poem came to us a few minutes after this student received notice that he had been awarded the JCWWP 2017 Scholarship. We did not know that N’jhari was also a swimmer and a poet…

He found the words…

“Thank you for contacting me.  I must say when I got your email, it was bittersweet and that’s just being honest.  It is truly the BEST letter I have ever received and it will be with me forever and will be a constant reminder to always do the right thing.

 

“Darkest in Water, Brightest on Stage”

         Though the roosters have yet to sing, Sun no interest in being seen, coach’s whistle screams it’s time to hustle.  The water no longer still, like waves of the ocean my frame takes the ride. Whitewater rafting sounds fun; tho’ for now kicking up bubbles legs on fire seconds count down to the wire. Finding fun without the sun hard enough, coach yells, “it’s not rough, now get tough.”

        Mumbling frustration is quite hard while swallowing the saltiness choking on discipline with an unpleasant grin; better focus and pray hard.  Oh, my aching shins filling these breaststroke fins.  Eyes on the prize, mind right.  Oh, look it’s daylight! ‘Darkest in water’, unseen threat, taking all bets while helping my teammate be his best.  No arrogance or conceit, making it tough to beat even in defeat head held high, shaking hands because I’m a man standing accepting His plan. 

       Curtain call, lights like fire, perspiration breaks still no threat.  Confidence a shield, the smile says hello. He’s ready, heart shown with e’vry move, never rude.  ‘Brightest on stage’, his platform was made.  His message soars across the risers, words take flight just maybe tonight a kind hand extended humble and meek.  Justin Carr Wants World Peace! Renaissance man always extended a hand. Tho’ the last bow taken not, with e’vry wave, looking at the stage, I’ll help seek, world peace. 

Dedicated To,

The Justin Carr Wants World Peace Foundation

By,  N’Jhari J.

N’Jhari and Darrel at Caring Awards


Because of your support we  were able to accomplish so much this past year with respect to:

We also learned firsthand about Kintsugi –the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold and lacquer.  It’s the philosophy that something broken can be remade into something even more beautiful.  Something that we realized we’ve been doing—with your help and support—through JCWWP in homage to Justin…

We are so grateful for your continued support as we remain steadfast in expanding Justin’s messages of hope, peace, inclusion, and love. It surely takes a village. One thing that we also know is that a broken tree can still bear exceptional fruit. We are all of the same branch reaching towards the sun.  God touches us. We touch you. You touch someone else. Next year we hope to continue to not only do the same but more.  Thank you.

DONATIONS CAN BE MADE TO THE JUSTIN CARR MEMORIAL FUND YEAR ROUND:

VIA REGULAR MAIL:

PASADENA COMMUNITY FOUNDATION
301 E. Colorado Blvd., Suite 810 | Pasadena CA 91101
Add: Justin Carr Wants World Peace Foundation in the memo

ONLINE

Justin Carr Wants World Peace

ON THE JCWWP WEBSITE

http://www.justincarrwantsworldpeace.org/tax-deductible-donations ,

Visit the website to Read Susan’s blog or get scholarship info and updates.  

http://www.justincarrwantsworldpeace.org

 

SAVE THE DATE: February 17, 2018, FOR THE JCWWP  ANNUAL EVENT

In Peace and Love,

Susan & Darrell Carr

LET US KNOW IF YOU WOULD LIKE A HARD COPY OF THIS CARD.