Back to School – Follow the Golden Rules

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Wrote August 2013

Well, I have been dodging the back to school ads all summer and blindly tossing into the trash all of the College letters that Justin continues to received daily via the postman and my email account. Painful to say the least! This was the week from hell!!


Justin will not realize the most celebrated year of ones primary education. Some people say, “He lived more than a person who is 80 years old”, others say “He did not need to go to college because he already completed his covenant University of Life while he accomplished so many things at such a young age.” As some of this can be constituted as being true, speaking from a wounded heart, I would much rather had Justin complete many more decades on this earth thriving amongst us.


Don’t get me wrong, I want to hear about all of his friends that are going off to college, I want to hear how his classmates are handling the pressures of Senior Year. So when I ask, I really do want to know. Everyone remaining on this Earth has to continue to live and love this life.


I realized bluntly on February 22, 2013, that all of the dreams that Justin had for himself, and we had as parents were gone and that they would never be realized. In the back of my mind, I visualized us arguing about completing his essays and common applications and attending all of the things and events he is suppose to do in his Senior Year.


This week, I was informally denied access (by a parent who was not hosting the party) to a Back to School event that we were formally invited to by the school .The School was hosting a Sr. Parent event and we received a formal initiation. The day before I got a call from a “friend” who told me “ You should not come to the event, because it is not fair to the those parents who were attending since they were going to be talking about happy fun stuff” and in other words seeing a grieving parent who lost a child would put a damper on their celebration.” Furthermore, it was for the parents and the students were not going to be there and besides “Justin was no longer a part of the class!”


Can you imagine yet alone believe that this happened? Well, I can’t make this stuff up. I cordially got off the call, pulled over to the side of the road and had a major meltdown. I was in shock. In my face, the pride and joy of what my son stood for was no longer in favor for someone who wanted to party and not be confronted with this unimaginable loss. I quickly thought about one of the golden rules of my Father and that is Rule #1

“ Don’t let other people determine how you act!”


So, we went to the event. The first words out of the mouth of the new HW-School President, Rick Commons, were “ There are two people here whom we will honor and cherish as members of the H-W family always and forever and he said Darrell and Susan Carr” We were not expecting this at all. We were surrounded and applauded by all of the HW angels who gave us hugs and confirmation that they were in fact happy to see us and how this tragic loss of Justin has affected their family and livelihood too. Dads Rule # 2 “Treat people the way you want to be treated.”



Each year we did our best to prepare Justin for his upcoming back to school year. We made sure he had the adequate tools and materials and we always reassured him that we would be there to support him every step of the way. It’s so hard to imagine all the physical milestones in this life that he/we will miss out on, but I have to smile knowing that we in fact

“ Did our best, and our best was good enough” (Dad’s rule “3) to love Justin and help him to become the fine young man that he was, who now deserves all of the posthumous accolades that may come his way. If this may seem like “Too much” for some who want this all to go away then you are all welcome to your opinion. It would have been better in my mind if he were able to formally receive them while he was here on this earth.


You don’t want to imagine what our “Back to School” feels like right now when we go on campus. But one thing I am sure, is that it feels good to be greeted with a genuine embrace, a smile and reassurance that even though our baby is not physically present, that Justin will continue to live through us and that the majority of the H-W community wants us to come and that they too share in our pain, and are grateful that he graced them with his presence.


So to all of Justin’s school friends and those who are at or off to college, and to the older folks too read carefully the following: As I started to think about my thoughts for the night I went into Justin’s room. On his shelve was a book “ All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”. The back of the book


“These are the things I learned (in Kindergarten):

Most of what I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the gradate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at Sunday school. These are the things I learned:

  1. Share everything.
  2. Play fair.
  3. Don’t hit people.
  4. Put things back where you found them.
  6. Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
  7. Say you’re SORRY when you HURT somebody.
  8. Wash your hands before you eat.
  9. Flush.
  10. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
  11. Live a balanced life – learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work everyday some.
  12. Take a nap every afternoon.
  13. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
  14. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
  15. Goldfish and hamster and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
  16. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.”

Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten



Justin was not perfect, and nobody really is, but as I read these I can honestly say that he did follow most of these rules. Thanks Dad for instilling in Justin and me how to deal with the treasures and pressures of life!


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