February 26, 2014
JULIA & JUSTIN
1. The name Julia means honest, benevolent, brilliant, inventive, full of high inspirations, courageous, honest, determined, original and creative.
2. Julia also is an orange and black American butterfly with long narrow forewings, found chiefly in tropical regions
3. Julia’s favorite color was purple
1. The name Justin has various meanings, which include; just or true, extremely generous, sympathetic, interested in art, always happy and lucky and a leader, especially for a cause.
2. Justin’s favorite swim stroke was the butterfly
3. Justin’s favorite color was turquoise
I will never forget this day in 2010 when Justin was in 8th grade and he called me from school crying hysterically. He said that his friend Julia Siegler got hit by cars while crossing Sunset trying to catch a school bus, and unfortunately had died. As soon as I got to campus, I was told by the Administration that Justin was passing out tissue to comfort his school community. He told me that Julia was so nice, a fantastic dancer, and a great artist, and she was in fact the first person that he met on his first day at school in 7th grade. Like most of his classmates and school community, Justin was upset and sad for many months missing his friend.
A few weeks later, Justin told me it was time for me to make a visit to the Siegler’s home. I did not know the family at all, but I called and spoke to Jody, Julia’s Mom, and told her that Justin insisted that I make arrangements to meet her…. Subsequently, a few days later I visited their home and spent some time with her. In the back of my mind, I could not begin to imagine what she was feeling from the aftermath of this horrific lost. But I witnessed first hand, the effects of a broken heart from a loss of a child. For the next three years I stayed in touch with Jody by writing her emails and calling her on occasion just to check in on her.
Fast forward to almost three years to the day; Jody sees the headline story on the news about the untimely sudden passing of Justin. She was in shock, like most. The very next day, she showed up on my doorstop and handed me a ceramic “J” letter with a bundle of folded papers wrapped in a purple ribbon (Purple was Julia’s favorite color). She embraced me and said. “ I went to my art storage to find this letter “J “that Julia made in 8thgrade. I also attached copies of all of your comforting emails that you affectionately wrote to me over the past three years. Hopefully, Julia was the first one to greet Justin as he entered through Heaven’s gate.” We embraced, cried and still to this day, we share the fond memories of our babies as we struggle to get through each day.
I just went to my drawer to pull out this piece of art where I placed it a year ago. To my surprise, I just noticed that the colors that Julia used include Justin’s infamous turquoise. I have not had the strength to read the letters yet that I wrote to my grieving friend Jody over the years. In time, I will read them. But for now, I am grateful that Justin though it was the right thing for me to do. Even though I did know Jody before her loss, I was glad that I took the time to reach out to her, because silent grief is the worst. I somehow found the words.
I have to believe that Julia and Justin are two beautiful butterflies dancing in the highest part of Heaven watching over all of us.