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”

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

The Hamiltons move uptown
And learn to live with the unimaginable

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

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

You knock me out, I fall apart

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

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

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

Look around, look around, Eliza

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

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

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




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


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”
Let me tell you what I wish I’d known
When I was young and dreamed of glory
You have no control:

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!!




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.



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



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



In Peace and Love,

Susan & Darrell Carr