Tag Archives: Justin Carr Swimmer

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!

Daddy’s Little Girl and the Wind Beneath Her Wings

Daddy’s Little Girl and the Wind Beneath Her Wings

“You’re the end of the rainbow, my pot of gold,

You’re daddy’s little girl to have and to hold…

” Daddy’s Little Girl”  Lyrics by  Al Martino

Last week we went to the USC Viterbi School of Engineering Awards Dinner. My friend Stayce Harris was honored.   It was on the wings of love and admiration for her that I somehow was able to muster the courage to attend. You see, this event was my re-emergence so to speak; I came out of my cocoon.

It has been over 4 years since I attended anything related to USC even though I am a Trojan for life. My husband Darrell became a Trojan by marriage and oh, my beloved son Justin had dreams of joining the USC student body through his legacy— but really from his own innate talents. As a family, we attended countless USC events through the years.   But when life threw us a curveball I had to protect myself from those broken dreams we had for Justin.

Justin, Susan & Darrell Carr at USC Homecoming 2004

It was a glorious night. This event was wonderful. It was welcoming and safe. A wave of nostalgia swept over me as the USC band played and as I watched my friend LIEUTENANT GENERAL STAYCE D. HARRIS —the first black woman to become an Air Force Lieutenant General, receive the Distinguished Alumni Award. Over 500 people came to “her party” as she said during her acceptance speech.

 

 

 

Stayce and I were classmates in a few general engineering courses on the Monday –Wednesday-Friday track back in the day. We became fast friends. On one particular Thursday, I had to take a second look when I spotted her quickly racing across campus donning a crisp and orderly Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) uniform. I caught up with her and called out her name. She turned around. To my surprise, it was Stayce! I did not know she was in the ROTC. Together in sync, we both busted up laughing and I said: “ OMG is this you? She smiled and said proudly, “ Yes, it is!” I said: “I’m not mad at you. Right on girl! I am still honored to be your friend. “ Fight On!!

 

You see, on our usual college days, Stayce was dressed like the rest of us, civilian students. We frequently attended social and sporting events on campus. She wore jeans, sweatshirts, bell-bottom pants, leggings, mini skirts, and boots. She even had her fashionable ” Farrah Fawcett hair style too!

Pam , Cynthia and Stayce  at USC Homecoming

 

USC Rally in San Francisco before the USC vs. Cal Game    (Stayce, Susan,  Susan’s little sister Jeni , Sandra and Sharon)

 

Stayce was an all-inclusive student. She was involved in all aspects of student life. She also pledged the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. At our campus parties, she often was spotted on the dance floor. Yes, we danced at parties back in the day. She was also quite the dancer— and just as good as the Soul Train Dancers. She effortlessly was able to do the various dances i.e. the worm, the point, or the cowboy!! She was always in the mix with the crowd. Stayce was unassuming. She was a mentor and friend to all.

Image by Colourbox

As women in the engineering department, we were rare commodities. A woman in the ROTC was a surprising yet beautiful sight to see. She was committed from an early age. She was “Daddy’s girl”… She said:

“I was born in Los Angeles. My father was career enlisted in the Air Force, so I grew up as a military brat. Basically, I’ve been serving ever since I was born. In my mind, all I wanted to do is grow up to be just like him. When I was 8 years old, I’d watch my dad go to work every day in a light blue shirt and dark blue pants, but I didn’t have a clue about his actual job in the Air Force. All I knew is that every two years, we’d move to another exotic location. And that’s what I enjoyed — the ability to travel the world. It wasn’t until I entered high school and started taking Junior ROTC that I knew I had the propensity to serve and wanted to be an airman.”

Fast forward. We graduated and remained in contact. Following are a few of her humble accomplishments. She has always been passionate about her goals and mission in life. She kept her eyes on the prize.

She did the following without fanfare or accolades:

  • B.S. Industrial Engineering USC
  • Masters of Aviation Management
  • Flew C-141 Cargo planes
  • United Airlines Pilot
  • Wing Commander
  • Major General US Air Force
  • Lieutenant General US Air Force
  • Friend and Mentor to Many

 

As she graced the stage during her acceptance speech, she compared her love for her two families – USC and the US Air Force. She paid homage to her #1 role model her father. She also committed and dedicated her excellence in service to the Tuskegee Airmen (the first black servicemen to serve as military aviators in the U.S. armed forces, flying with distinction during World War II.) A group of Tuskegee Airmen also came to celebrate Stayce. They too got a standing ovation. The remaining few are now in their 80’s and 90’s. It was another honor to be in their presence.

Tuskeegee Airmen Image by History.com

“The Tuskegee airmen were the first black servicemen to serve as military aviators in the U.S. armed forces, flying with distinction during World War II. Though subject to racial discrimination both at home and abroad, the 996 pilots and more than 15,000 ground personnel who served with the all-black units would be credited with some 15,500 combat sorties and earn over 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses for their achievements. The highly publicized successes of the Tuskegee Airmen helped pave the way for the eventual integration of the U.S. armed forces under President Harry Truman in 1948. (http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/tuskegee-airmen)”

Stayce with two Tuskeegee Airmen and  USC Classmate Lloyd Mckinney

Tuskeegee Airmen April 19, 2017

When Stacey’s Dad passed away the Tuskegee Airmen came to her rescue. They adopted her as their daughter. They told her: “ It’s ok Baby. We are your Daddies now…”

Hearing this gave me chills…

“Daddy’s girl, Daddy’s girl.

I’m the center, of Daddy’s world.

I know I’m Daddy’s number one,

For he loves me like I was his son.

Daddy’s girl.”

 

****So please watch this short 3-minute video of Stacey as we honor all of her goodness. See who has a cameo in it…

 

Watch Lt. Gen Harris Acceptance Speech at the USC Viterbi 2017 Awards

 

Trojan’s military career took flight from the start

Justin loved Stayce. Every time she would visit she responded to him. She was patient with his endless questions. She also was genuinely interested in the things he liked to do. He took pride in showing her is artwork and his design projects. Whenever we would fly on United Airlines he would ask the stewardess: “ Who is the pilot? Is Ms. Stacey flying the plane? He was so proud of her. It was a blessing that we all got to witness her pinning by the Tuskegee Airmen in 2009.

2009 Las Vegas 2 Star Pinning Ceremony with the Tuskeegee Airman

Susan, Stayce & Darrell 2017

“The best piece of advice Harris remembers came from ABC anchor Robin Roberts.

“I always tell people to find your passion and follow your passion with all of your drives and abandon, but most importantly, realize that God’s delays are not his denials. I went to a Black Enterprise women’s summit one year and [Robin Roberts] was the speaker. When she said that, it just resonated with me so well and I have used it in almost every single speech that I’ve given ever since,” Harris said. “I always try to give her credit for it, but it really means that in pursuing your goals, there may be stumbling blocks. I call it turbulence because I’m a pilot. There’s turbulence out there, but those stumbling blocks, in my opinion, really serve as building blocks to get you where you want to go. So don’t be deterred if there are delays in you achieving your goal. I think you become stronger for it.”

https://theundefeated.com/features/meet-stayce-harris-the-first-black-woman-to-become-an-air-force-lieutenant-general/

“Did you ever know that you’re my hero,

And everything I would like to be?

I can fly higher than an eagle,

For you are the wind beneath my wings…” Bette Midler

Well, all of this is confirmation of how one can have an extended family. I met most of my cherished friends today at USC. They came to the rescue when we needed them the most 4 years ago. My CIA agents (my best girls) all got their training through our forged friendships developed at USC.

 

Stayce and her USC gal pals

 

I have learned how sharing my life stories as I have emerged from this cocoon are the driving forces behind whom I have already started to become during this difficult journey from my chrysalis—a catalyst moving me toward finding my voice, and my wings, once again.

Justin, my butterfly,  is now the wind beneath my wings.

 

Congratulations LIEUTENANT GENERAL STAYCE D. HARRIS   You are our “Shero”. You can fly higher than an eagle with your Daddy as your constant wind beneath your wings.

 

Stayce my USC sister, keep flying high!!  I will try too!

Fight On!

P.S. William Wang another USC Alumnus was also honored that night. He was an immigrant student from China.  He attended USC as an Electrical Engineering student. He got his firs F grade ever in life in his EE 105 class. He did not know how to break the news to his mother.  He told her the F stood for FIGHT ON!! He said he failed the class 3 times, had a 2.4 GPA and he later launched VIZIO HDTV’s. As he mentioned you can get one at a Costco near you!!!

Justin building a House for Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans 2012

JJ, Jensen, Juju & The Butterfly

JJ, Jensen, Juju and the Butterfly

Real Acts of Love

A Mother’s Day point of view

 CAST

JJ – (Jeffrey Jr. Age 4)

Jensen – (Artist Extraordinaire—a 12th grader fulfilling one goal)

JuJu – (Justin our eternal Butterfly)

Mother ( me of course)

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PLOT

The following are true ACTS of LOVE that I witnessed as a Mother on 2/22/2015—the 2ND Angel Anniversary to honor and remember Justin aka Juju—our butterfly.

For me, it was evident and the anticipation had been building up for months ever since 2/22/2013 – when the first everlasting irrevocable moments catapulted us into this whole new realm. The clock continues to click for each second, minute and hour—some leaving powerful markings, that unequivocally reveal that Justin is still inextricably linked within our everyday lives as we try and sail this ship called life.

This year—like last year we decided to have a beach celebration because of the essence that water brings —peace, beauty, calm, infinite tranquility and cathartically or prophetically speaking—water also brought much peace and joy to Justin. Hence, for me—everyday is Mother’s Day. EVERYDAY, I think of what it meant to be Justin’s Mom and how I will never let go of that honor nor give up on any of my nurturing ways. I just can’t. It is an innate quality that will never leave me. Grateful indeed that so many people young and old still take the time to pay homage to me as a Mother. So with that said, this is my story—a four ACT play…

I often ask myself and those spiritually connected: “ Will I ever see Justin again?” By the conclusion of this PLAY, the answer will be revealed…

ACT ONE

JJ ACTS Out!!!!

A few days before the event, I received a call from my sister Jeni. She told me that she was planning to come visit for the celebration. However, her sidekick JJ (little man in charge) recently told her: “I don’t want to go to visit Auntie Susu (as he affectionately calls me) or Uncle Darrell if Juju is not going to be there!! Is he back from Heaven yet?” For days he was adamant about his decision not to travel. He sorely missed all of the playful attention that his big cousin gave to him. Like his other little cousins it is hard to conceive the magnitude of this sudden loss of his big cousin Juju… Hell, it’s hard for me.  So, Jeni started working on his psyche, and within a few days luckily he changed his mind. After picking them up from the airport JJ talked nonstop asking a million questions until we pulled up into the driveway. He quickly got quiet and peered his little (big) head over the seat in front of him to get a better view of the house.

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He immediately jumped out of the car and followed Uncle Darrell inside . As he walked towards Juju’s pre-teen bedroom JJ reached for the crystal doorknob and he abruptly closed the door. He decisively looked up at Uncle Darrell saying:“ I don’t want to go in there at all!” He then walked towards the kitchen.

Later that evening, JJ came downstairs into Justin’s bachelor bedroom pad where he calmly climbed on the bed next to me. As he gazed around the room he marveled at all of the sport trophies, posters and images of Justin. Then one picture caught his attention. It was the picture Justin when he was 4 years old when  dressed up in an old mans outfit. JJ climbed on me to get a closer look then he smiled laughing cheerfully saying:

“ Look at Juju when he was a baby” ha ha ha…

jsutinhat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACT II

Beach, Balls, Butterflies

Upon arriving at the overcast and misty beach the next morning, JJ realized that he did not have his Oregon Ducks jersey.  You see he needed his official gear to play football on the sand. He crawled in my lap and with piercing screams and tears he begged me for an hour asking me: “ Please Auntie lets go back and get it.” I told him that the weather was bad, we did not have time and that he would have to play ball without the shirt. As his noise level increased, I told him that “ It is not your day! You can stay in the car if you want, but I am getting out now.” He then quickly followed. Once he hit the beach, he immediately had a new attitude. He grabbed his football, and threw it (like a pro) to anyone who would catch it as he played quarterback and made calls for the various teams he had assembled. He wore everyone out!!

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jjsmileEven though the morning weather had been gloomy and raining throughout most of the city, fortunately for us IMG_3979 copyfearless warriors the rain stopped. With the beach as the backdrop, friends and family huddled together under tarps and rested on blankets. We opened up the event listening to Justin’s breathtaking version of the National Anthem,

then the HW Chamber Singers Octet sang “Psalm 8, Ms. Hall

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(Justin’s Art Teacher) remarked about how the HW community is changing for the better because of Justin—one smile at a time. Then Justin’s friend Lora remembered her chance encounter meeting him at a SDLC Diversity conference in December of  2012. She noticed him dropping back to the last position allowing 1399 other students to go ahead of him so that he could be the last one to have a quiet moment with Dr. Bernard Harris– the guest speaker who was an astronaut. I remember that night because Justin sent me a picture from the occasion.

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Lora spoke about how “Through

lorahis art, writing, and vision, Justin has shown all of us that achieving world peace means bringing everyone together, like a mosaic, to create a harmonious, loving, compassionate, diverse world in which all people are valued. Watching his message of peace spread around the world–through t-shirts, luggage tags, and hashtags, I am astounded by the power of community and humbled by the prospect of world peace; all because a boy named Justin dared to dream.”

TIANANMEN SQUARE CHINA
TIANANMEN SQUARE CHINA

 

 

Darrell and I then shared updates of the power of love for Justin and how there are many ripple affects showing us that  his legacy will continue on through the ages.

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A variety of butterflies were released, one by one into the chilled air-some lingering longer than others. We watched in awe as they one by one took flight soaring towards the sky. Even though it was not at all warm, the chill of the day was comforting. The group shot was magical as you can see as a sole black bird presents itself soaring over us as we looked toward the sky…

 

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ACT III

Jensen’s Love Notes

Late last summer we were approached by one of Justin’s dear friends Jensen who wanted to do a concert in his honor on 2/22/2015.

jensensing

All of the proceeds went to the Justin Carr Wants World Peace Foundation http://www.justincarrwantsworldpeace.org/. So grateful!!! The concert was held at the Complete Actors Place Studio—a cozy, quaint venue with cabaret seating. The interior was adorned with painted walls, and an elevated stage that showcased Justin’s eclectic collection of artwork. The environment gave you a black-box theatre feel—an appropriate space to honor our Renaissance man Justin.

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Jensen skillfully produced “ A Love Note Concert” befitting to best honor her friend Justin. As she once opted out a lead part in the play “Hairspray” she said that she would do something special to carry out his message further. She said that when she would talk with Justin “he was all about breaking stereotypes and being yourself. His life inspired me greatly; he was so versatile and intelligent and well rounded, not at all fitting into any sort of box, racial or otherwise.” I’m certain, that even though she got flack for declining an acceptance offer into an Ivy League school, Justin would concur that she made the right decision for herself to attend USC- which  offered her more options for her musical pursuits.

Jensen along with her band of brothers (including her own 7th grade brother Holden) and two sets of her peers and their middle school aged brothers commanded the stage singing sweet sounds of music. The duets featured some smart juxtaposition, with dazzling showmanship. These confident younglings all appeared to be trained and seasoned performers and while they were on stage,  they looked entirely at home. The show was spectacular and captivated the audience. It is a good thing to say that there were many tears that paralleled the various songs.  Needless to say when Adam Yaron did a mix of “Man in the Mirror and “Change the World” I was DONE!!!  I think everyone was.  All in honor of their dear friend Justin.

I might also add that my fashionista sister Jeni noticed the butterflies that adorned Jensen’s beautiful skirt…  Jensen jammed and looked so gorgeous as always!!

jensensskirt

 

I was happy to say that little JJ snapped his fingers and wiggled his feet during the whole performance. He sat quietly like  a little church mouse. Maybe he was exhausted from running up and down on the beach or maybe it was because he was resting on a full stomach!!!!

Jensen singing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZvtQ4V2NkU

Adam singing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOZ53yC_bT0

Jensen , the performers and her family put so much time effort this was truly and ACT of love.

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ACT IV

JJ’s Turning point

It was a whirlwind couple of days for JJ and Jeni. We were glad that they came to visit. As they were carrying their bags to the car, JJ stops to look at a huge picture of Justin in our living room and he says to me “ Auntie Susu, how come you have so many butterflies all over your house?” I said to him, “You know your cousin Juju was a swimmer and he loved doing the butterfly stroke.” JJ quickly interrupts me and says politely: “ Excuse me, my mom is taking me to swimming practice tomorrow and I will ask if they know what the butterfly is”, I said, “ That would be great JJ,”  He then places his Chirstmas picture next to Justin’s picture on the table.

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As he steps outside to the porch he TURNS  to looks back in the house and says with a “Kool-Aid” smile “ Bye Auntie Susu, bye Uncle Darrell, bye Juju, bye bye butterflies…

CONCLUSION

A few days before this event, I wrote Valerie Morales—a wonderful virtual friend (because I have never met her face to face) who has touched me and Darrell’s spiritual healing in more ways than we could have ever imagined. One morning I woke up to an email from her:

On Feb 15, 2015, at 8:48 AM, Valerie wrote

Father Pedro Arrupe was a Jesuit priest of Spanish origins with a doctorate in medical ethics. He was in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb fell and he survived the carnage.

Of Hiroshima, he said “it was a permanent experience outside of history engraved on my memory.” We all know what that feels like, things our mind just cannot forget or even forgive.

But, Father Arrupe was better than the rest of us. He devoted his life to helping those on the margins, the forgotten of the world.

He wrote, “What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, when you know, what breaks your heart, and, what amazes you with joy a gratitude. Fall in love. Stay in love. It will decide everything.”

Since I was feeling vulnerable at the time.  I responded back to her:

Feb 15, 2015 10:37 AM, “Susan Carr” wrote:

“Valerie, It’s coming up on year 2 without my baby. I am so sad. Do you think I will ever see him again??”

On Feb 15, 2015, at 5:26 PM, Valerie Morales < wrote:

“The question: will you ever see Justin again is in some ways the wrong question to burden yourself with. It is a question you already know the answer to. There is no such reality as death. Only a changing of worlds.

The question then that presses upon your very broken heart is altogether different, wrapped as it is so tightly inside of your grief. Father, have mercy. Will I ever touch Justin again? Will I sing to him? Will I crawl into his arms and he into mine? Will I know him, the kind of knowing only mothers are responsible for because mothers are the beginning, and mothers are the middle and, cruelly, mothers are the absolute end.

I can tell you what I know to be true. I can tell you that Justin did not have a soul, he was a soul. I can tell you that Justin is inside of you. I can tell you that Justin is part of that long equation of eternal life, like your mother and father are, like you will be one of these days. I can tell you that ordinary people and extraordinary destinies link together.

I have said this before to you. If you love someone, they will leave you either they will leave you voluntary or they will leave you falling down on your knees in grief. We will be abandoned by those we love. It is the price we pay for humanity. We are here to love other people.

But, of course, no one tells you that when you push a child out into the world. No one tells you we all have a destiny and God is watching. No one says to you that some children live 90 years. Other children live 50 years. Other children live 4 years. Others live 16 years. All are lucky. All are loved by God more than they are loved by man.

No one said to you in September 1996, no one said, Susan my beloved, life isn’t going to be fair in 2013. So be careful. Be humble. No one said to you that roses bloom in spring and die in winter for a reason.

There are some things and people too beautiful and perfect for this earth. You want to see Justin, you want to see him one last time, in other words, you want a miracle. Einstein’s famous quote about miracles: live your life two ways, either that nothing is a miracle or that everything is.

See, you can’t be afraid of the light and the dark at the same time, even brokenhearted as you are. Just as you were required  to be a mother to Justin in life, you are required to be a mother to Justin in death.

This is how it works. You can’t see Justin  but because of grace he can see everything about you. He can’t feel you but because of sorrow  you can feel everything about him. It’s the great irony of presence and absence, love and death, here and gone, the beginning and end, love and endless pain.

That is what will be true on February 22 whether you believe it or not. You will feel Justin. A mother always feels her children. You will know him. A mother recognizes her children’s fingerprints. You will teach the world about him. A mother is a professor.

And when its over, when they day is finally exhausted of all of its intricacies and the concert is done, and you’ve hugged everyone there is to hug and cried rivers everywhere,  you’ll be able to say, “I am not afraid of storms, I am learning to sail my ship.”

That’s what I am trying to do is to learn a new route and sail my ship to continue to teach others all about Justin, my greatest gift as a Mother…

Today on my visit with Justin,  I had to play Molly Chapman’s “Butterfly” Song

Butterfly

By Molly Chapman

Verse:

Each morning I would see that smile
And for a little while things would be alright

You were the best
But you didn’t know it
You’d make things better in your colorful, Bill Cosby sweaters

Chorus

Cause your smile made me smile 
Your laugh made me laugh
And all those silly faces you would make in class I’m gonna miss that, I’ll miss that

You were obviously an angel
But it wasn’t your time, it wasn’t your time Why did you have to go?
You’re leaving me alone, so alone

Please come back, back come back

Bridge:

Butterfly, why did you have to spread your wings and fly away? It wasn’t your time
I never said goodbye
You never said goodbye

x2 Chorus

Cause your smile made me smile
Your laugh made me laugh
And all those silly faces you would make in class I’m gonna miss that, I’ll miss that

You were obviously an angel
But it wasn’t your time, it wasn’t your time Why did you have to go?
You’re leaving me alone, so alone

Please come back, back Come back

If you care to read about JJ’s first encounter  with his cousin Juju read this:

http://www.justincarrwantsworldpeace.org/wordpress/?s=juju+dancing

 

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THE END

(at least for this PLAY)

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This Swimmer Caught My Ear

 

HW_swim_team

The First Annual Justin Carr Memorial Swim Meet was held yesterday  March 2, 2014,

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Yesterday, we did it. I walked the pool, I touched the water… I made the sign of the cross, I said a prayer, and thinking of my baby Justin made me smile through my tears. The HW swim team and Coach Jon Carroll and Coach Darlene Bible, embraced us. I spoke to Justin Carr World-Peace teammates, they gave me hugs, Nina walked me through the moments and the joy that Justin brought to her on that first day she met him. And Grant Nussbaum -what can I say about the friendship you had with Justin was a gift. Justin’s Art Teacher Ms. Hall designed the trophy which is a image of Justin doing the butterfly, the sun from Justin’s infamous ” happy to see the sun come up”, the triangle is synonymous with the ” renaissance man, Loyola had a special cheer for Justin, and we saw so many kids who swam with Justin on the Rose bowl club team. It did not rain much, and my girls, Portia, Nasreen, Angie, Natalie, Amber, Sharon, Cathleen, Ms. Hall, and Jeanne, all stood by my side thank you. I made it through the first annual Justin Carr swim meet. Oh, and we started out the meet with Justin singing the anthem there was not a dry eye in the stadium.

 

Thank you everyone. Justin, there are no more words.. Love you and miss you more.

 

 

 

My guardian angel Nina Avalos-Juarez

who only met my baby Justin Carr World-Peace for the first time ONE HOUR before his untimely transition sent me this gift via a FB message back in November 2013. I read it all the time because it proves to me that Justin was living his life to the fullest up until the moments right before is untimely passing. Yesterday was my first time visiting the pool and I met Nina officially for the first time to give her the biggest hug ever for sending me this GIFT. I love it when people tell me what Justin meant to them so keep in contact with me. More gifts hearing about Justin’s life (outside of our home) are very much appreciated. It helps me get through my quiet days. Nina said it was ok to post her private message she sent to me and share it with you all. Thank you Nina for finding the words…

 

Hello!

 

I’m sure you are probably wondering who I am. My name is Nina Juarez. I am currently a sophomore at Harvard-Westlake. Now you’re probably wondering, “Why is this girl I have never met before messaging me?” Well the reason why I am messaging you is because I want to thank you. On February 22, 2013 I met a very special person who, little did I know, was going to change my life. His name was Justin Carr. On that day I was going to the Upper school (since I was in 9th grade then I had to take the sports shuttle) to swim practice with Coach Carroll. When we first got there Carroll told us that we were going to watch some film first. That is where I saw Justin for the first time. He was surrounded by all of his friends. He was so happy and joyful which made me so excited to get to swim with him. It was pretty much my first time swimming with the swim team since I had just finished Water Polo. Anyway, there was a little time before Carroll could get the projector up so everyone was just chatting. I remember Justin was laughing about some broken chair next to him. He was so funny and I was laughing so hard. I’m sure that that was one of the hardest times I have ever laughed. Him and Coach Carroll were also talking about this movie called Pride and also Coach Carroll was congratulating him on bringing Samuel L. Jackson to the school. Then, Coach Carroll told us that we were going to get into the pool. I remember being so excited because Justin and me were in the same lane.  I had never talked to him but he kept on making me laugh so hard and I know if we ever had the chance we would be the best of friends. He kept on joking about how cold the pool was and how he didn’t want to get in. A few minutes in they made him go into some of the faster lanes because he was way faster than al of us in the slow lane. I just told myself I would talk to him after practice no big deal. And then the unthinkable happened. I just remember telling myself “He is going to be okay, everything is fine”. And then when I got the email I could barely breathe. All I could say is “He was right there… I saw him… he was okay…. I remember how supportive everyone was on Monday. I was in Vocal Ensemble at the time and I had just finished talking to my dean so I was a little late to class. I was about to tell Ms. Burtchaell why I was late but all she did was hug me and she said while she was hugging me and crying “I love you”. I don’t know what I would do without her. She let me stay in the choir room after Vocal Ensemble, since I had a free, with the Madrigals. Ms. Burtchaell talked about Justin and how he was in Madrigals too. The Madrigals started singing a song called Voces Lucis. I have never heard the madrigals sound so beautiful and it was all for Justin. When I went to the vigil I had never seen a place so full of love and compassion. His friends sang beautiful songs for him and your Husband sang Our Father so beautifully. It inspired me to learn more about this incredible boy. When I was looking around heard his beautiful voice in the recording of Tomorrow from Annie and it’s all right. I dedicated my swim season to Justin and tried to do the best I could. When I finally learned to do the butterfly, the right way, I was overjoyed! Coach Carroll was so proud that he let me do the 50 butterfly for JV at the Championships! After school ended I decided to go to this choir camp at Idyllwild because I heard my new choral teacher, Mr. Guerrero was faculty there and a some kids from HW were going.  During this I met Adam Lange, Benny Weisman, Michelle Lee, and Landon Fadel at Idyllwild. All of them sang with Justin and always used to sing It’s all right during our breaks. I became really close with all of them. One day we where singing this song called Dawn ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vn3DAJEmkQI ) our conductor starting crying. She started talking about this girl who used to sing for her and had just passed after she got Pneumonia. Immediately after this you saw all the Harvard-Westlake kids one by one starting to cry up a storm as we tried to sing it again. Benny was right in back of me and as soon as he saw me look at him and start crying and he just hugged me without saying a word as if he knew me and knew everything. We all one by one got out of out seat and went to this little stairway right next to the choir room. And we all just hugged each other and Mr. Guerrero came outside to talk us and he said “aren’t you glad you have each other?”. If I weren’t crying my face off I would have said “I am so happy to have met these people and bond with them like I have never bonded with anyone”. After this, I saw the mail about Hairspray and knew I had to audition. I worked countless hours practicing over and over my lines, songs, and dances moves. When the cast list came out and I saw Benny and I both made it, I was too happy for words. I was cast as one of Maybelle’s crew and I couldn’t be happier. I made so many friends during the time we were all practicing. As it came closer to opening night I worked I hard as I could to get everything perfect. I met with Dr. Faultus twice to go over my alto part even when he said I had it solid. When it came to opening night I was so exited and scared but I knew I had to do it for him. Each time before the performance I would hide my Justin bracelet in my pockets or under my shoe for good luck. During the last performance right before we were about to go on for “I know where I’ve Been” we all where outside and we all agreed that we had to sing the loudest and strongest we’ve ever sung it for Justin. While we were singing I Know Where I’ve Been everything finally made sense to me. From the first day I met him he’s been with me. Every time I swam he was right there cheering me on. When I was almost too scared too audition he was there with me. When I auditioned with I Know Where I’ve Been he was standing right there supporting me. And when I was on that stage he was right next to us singing with us. As I held Kennedy Green’s and Daniel Davila’s hands I felt so strong and so safe. As if nothing could tear us apart. I don’t know if you saw but everyone on that stage was crying but all of us were trying to sing as loudly and beautifully as we could through those tears. I have never felt anymore love than I felt on that stage that night. After the song Zita hugged me and I was so happy. That was the happiest night of my life so far. And it was all because of Justin.

 

Every heart he has touched has become a better person because of him. He showed me how to be “Big Blonde and Beautiful”, how to do the Madison, and has taught me the most important lessons of all …To love and be loved. To hug everyone as if this could be the last. To sing and dance like nobody’s watching. That you’re never fully dressed without a smile. And that being yourself is the best you, you can be. You may not remember this but when you came around and hugged me and I started crying, you didn’t say, “Who are you?” or “and why are you crying you didn’t even know him”; you said “It’s okay, It all right”. And you loved me without even knowing who I was. You and him and your husband have changed my life forever and I cannot thank you enough for that. So thank you. Thank you for hugging me. Thank you for loving me even though you didn’t know me. You and your husband were the best parents Justin could ever hope for. If I could talk to Justin just one I would thank him for letting me into his dream. Thank you, your husband and Justin for being my angels in disguise.

 

Love and Peace,                                                                                                  Nina Juarez (Motormouth’s Gang Member)

 

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Darrell, Nina and Grant
Darrell, Nina and Grant

SEVEN JCWWP TAGS IN SEVEN CONTINENTS

Last night after my group, my  friend Ken handed me his phone so that  I could look at a picture that he took  during his recent trip to China.  As I zoomed in on a photo of him  holding a  Justin Carr Wants World Peace (JCWWP) luggage tag,  I said  in amazement: “That’s Tiananmen Square!” He smiled,  as he  hugged me he said: “Yes, it is Susan. I took Justin with me”…

Most of us know the political significance of Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China.  However, after a quick internet search, I found out that  it is in fact named after the Tiananmen Gate which means (Gate  Of Heavenly Peace). How special it was that the JCWWP tag made it all the way there.

TIANANMEN SQUARE CHINA
TIANANMEN SQUARE   BEIJING, CHINA

 

 

 

 

 

 

I could not wait to show this recent photo to Darrell.  As I was driving home, I looked up to the sky and said to my self:  “Justin we are trying to make some good lemonade out of this bowl of lemons!”  It then dawned on me that  with a little help from our friends,  Justin’s tags have made it to ALL of the continents in a very short period of time i.e.   North America, South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and thanks the Chrissie – her recent excursion was all  way to  ANTARCTICA!!!! OMG.  SEVEN JCWWP TAGS  TRAVELED TO SEVEN CONTINENTS IN SEVEN MONTHS 7X7X7. This made me smile.

 

JUSTIN 4TH GRADE
JUSTIN 4TH GRADE

SEVEN CONTINENTS
SEVEN CONTINENTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was cracking up because I thought that most of the far away places were visited by some of my creative co-workers whom I once worked with either at Walt Disney Imagineering or Universal Studios.  They are fortunate to have the coveted jobs  and o take incredible vacations  which have taken them to such places.  Even though it has been many years since we have worked together, it is evident that our friendships have lasted throughout the ages and it is a testimony  that Character Counts!  I am grateful that we have all made a difference in each others lives and continue to at least think about each other.

I must say that one of Justin’s dream jobs was to one day work for either of these companies.  He was fortunate to gain some of the benefits of having friends in “High Places” because he went to different events, and was able to have meaningful conversations with my friends; as he discussed the latest rides, or planned themed attractions.

Justin with "Marty" Sklar  Walt Disney Company's International Ambassador for Walt Disney Imagineering
Justin with “Marty” Sklar Walt Disney Company’s International Ambassador for Walt Disney Imagineering

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JCWWP TAG  EPCOT WALT DISNEY WORLD
EPCOT WDW, ORLANDO, FLORIDA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AUSTRALIA
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

 

 

 

MT. FUJI, JAPAN
MT. FUJI, JAPAN

 

 

 

 

 

 

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA
BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ANTARTICA
ANTARTICA

LONDON, ENGLAND
LONDON, ENGLAND

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JCWWPTAGITALY2
FLORENCE, ITALY

 

 

 

 

 

 

STATUE DAVID
STATUE DAVID

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOUTH AFRICA
SOUTH AFRICA

TANZANIA, EAST AFRICA
TANZANIA, EAST AFRICA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last year we were trying to figure out what we could give to Justin’s graduating classmates  so that they could take something  in memory of Justin -as they ventured off into their NEW worlds. We got the luggage tag ideal from  our  dear friends Harriet and Steve (who are also members of this unwanted club).  They gave us a tag in memory of their precious son Dillon.

We had no ideal that this little tag would would literally travel to schools, colleges,  and various places and landmarks within the US and around the world.

So, along with the attached note we gave each student a luggage tag:

To Justin’s HW Classmates of 2014,                                                                                                          June 6, 2014

 Congratulations, Graduates!   Your hard work, dedication and determination have served you well and today you reach this major milestone in your life.

 Even though each of you had different relationships with Justin, as we watched from the sidelines this past year, we witnessed your solidarity as you collectively came together in various ways to honor and remember your friend, our Young Renaissance Man. He cherished being part of your class and the HW school and it is evident that he was an integral and moving force of your community.

 Thank you for your letters, Facebook messages, monthly HW Chronicle articles, videos, performances dedicated in Justin’s honor, volunteering for the after-school programs, participating in the tributes, speaking to us, smiling or hugging us when you saw us, and directly practicing some of Justin’s self-proclaimed character traits of being helpful, observant, sensitive, creative or skillful as you maneuvered throughout your daily world. Please continue to serve others!

 As you move forward in your life, we want you to remember Justin and his personal place in your class. Justin was not perfect, but he did his best to do his part to create a more peaceful world. Justin tried to ensure that everyone got along, treated others with respect, accepted their differences and uniqueness, and made sure that no one ever felt alone. Whenever you need a boost in your life, remember Justin’s infectious smile, unique laugh, funny jokes or expressions, and the spirited nickname that he may have created especially for you. We all have the opportunity to make this world a better place. As Justin’s parents, we would like to share with you the lesson and values we instilled in him. If he were still gracing this earth, we would continue to tell him these same things today and throughout his life as a reminder of his character and worth:

  • Do your best, and your best will be good enough!
  • Don’t let other people determine how you act
  • You can “BE” anything you want to “BE”
  • Enjoy the simple things in life
  • You can’t buy happiness
  • Take a lot of pictures because every picture tells a story
  • Don’t take anything for granted
  • When people show you who they are, believe them
  • It’s ok to “Stand Out” from everyone who tries to “Fit In”
  • Smile and be happy
  • Always greet someone with a firm handshake and look them straight in the eyes
  • Stand up for those who need help
  • Every day is a day of thanksgiving
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it
  • Say “I love you” as often as possible (and mean it)
  • Share your passwords for your accounts with someone you trust (including your parents)

 Enclosed is a collage insert for your yearbook and a tag you can use on your traveling adventures to keep Justin close to you. Oh yeah, there is one more homework assignment from Justin’s Dad (a retired professor): “Let’s Achieve World Peace”. We know it will take you more than a night, one semester or even a year, but when Justin was 4 years old he prayed, “God, help us to achieve world peace.” And together, we can do it—we can make Justin’s prayer a reality. Even though this might seem like a daunting task, it is the seemingly small acts of kinds, authenticity, and empathy—like the ones listed above—that are the key to creating a more compassionate, accepting, and peaceful world.

 Please keep in touch with us. We will always be Justin’s Mom and Dad. We would also love to hear about your memories with Justin and to see how you make a difference in this world in the years to come. Try and continue to live as Justin did: loving this life and living it as bravely, faithfully and cheerfully as you can. Congratulations.

 In Peace and Love,

                                                                                                                                                             Darrell & Susan Carr”

 

As my dear friend David Perlman recently wrote to me on FB when he was traveling with his JCWWP Tag:

“Hey Susan Toler Carr the tag helps me spot what is really important while I am traveling that includes world peace. I was suppose to be in Paris this week but did not go and they had a horrible attack. We were in Istanbul and Israel on our last trip 2 months ago and they have both been hit hard. Family, friends, health and world peace is most important. Justin Carr World-Peace luggage tag is going around the world with me as a proud reminder of what I have at home and also what some others need. It is real cool seeing to young people that knew Justin rally behind his cause. I love you and your family. “

So true, so true. I often WONDER often about our new world. I do know that Justin’s impact and what he stood for will be appreciated my many people throughout the world in the days and years to come.  Justin was able to travel to a few continents with us. Those trips will be forever embedded in our mind.  What we now have to do is continue to  life like Justin did and Love this Life and Live it as bravely, faithfully, and cheerfully as you can- and we hope and pray that you continue to do the same.

Thank you to all  World  and local Travelers for taking the JCWWP tags with you.   More importantly, thank you to every one who continues to walk and TRAVEL the WORLD with us.  Remember JUSTIN CARR WANTS WORLD PEACE.

KEEP TRAVELING, AND KEEP SENDING US PICTURES WE LOVE IT!

Justin’s cousin Laureina did this project at UC Berkley for her cousin Justin

http://www.justincarrwantsworldpeace.org/luggage-tag.html

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FRIENDSGIVING THIS THANKSGIVING

FRIENDSGIVING

As the end of the year quickly approaches, we must say again how truly thankful and blessed we are to have you—our dear and very generous friends—supporting us and the Justin Carr Wants World Peace Foundation (JCWWP), not just with your time or monetary contributions, but your very connection to us….

Although, we’re forced to have a second Thanksgiving without our beautiful Justin physically here, we’re once again reminded of what Thanksgiving really means…Thanks. Giving. So, we are thanks giving for your “Friendsgiving”, because without that support we would not be in this place. So many from all walks of life, cultural descent and ages, have become quiet foot soldiers and walk beside us—for whom we are forever grateful. You all are truly a beautiful reflection of Justin’s belief that no matter where we come from, we are always stronger standing together than apart…

Another reflection of Justin’s impact is his story being shared around the world, that’s generated a strong year for JCWWP (and personally strengthened us). Accomplishments in 2014 include:

Dare 2 Dream: Among quite a few examples of achievement due to the program, one student won a scholarship to attend the prestigious Belvoir Terrace Visual and Performing Arts Summer Program in Boston; another won a trip to Monaco for Princess Stéphanie’s Festival International du Cirque de Monte-Carlo

  • Benefit Programs & Products: ArtsAhimsa Concert in honor of Justin; Angeles Chorale Concert in honor of Justin on his 18th Birthday; and JCWWP luggage tags travel the world…
  • Medical Partnerships: We were invited to share Justin’s story at the 2014 American Heart Association Ball http://youtu.be/-7g9Zb8zXOA; and are currently working on a heart, art and peace project for testing and to educate others about  early heart disease detection.
  • Awards: CBS2 LA News wins an Emmy Award for Justin’s story
  • Paying It Forward: Funded cost to remove a huge neck growth on a young man in Jinja, Uganda… He’s a good kid, the oldest of 6, very impoverished background, his mother has HIV – and his name is Justin…

Our goals for 2015 are even more ambitious, as we continue this journey of giving…

  • Justin’s Dare 2 Dream Math Tutoring and Arts at underserved Schools
  • An April Love Notes Presents Justin Carr Wants World Peace Benefit Concert created and produced by one of Justin’s high school friends
  • Provide Scholarships to Visual and Performing Arts Programs
  • Obtain partnerships with major companies to educate and test for early heart disease detection (stay tuned)

If you would like to help us with those endeavors among others, please note that the  Pasadena Community Foundation http://www.pasadenacf.org  accepts donations for JCWWP any time of the year.  http://www.pasadenacf.org/donate_how.aspx.

Learning to Grieve with Gratitude has become our mantra… And grateful we are, because of our friends who have given their time, energy, spirit and love, JCWWP has achieved a lot this year. We also know that we need each and every one of you to help us continue on our quest to do better and be better just like Justin.

It is true how love does show up in unexpected ways, and we feel that love through you, because to paraphrase John Lennon we’ve been able to get by with a “little” help from our friends, and we do need everybody, and we appreciate all of your love. Your support has enabled the ripple effects of JCWWP and Justin’s life to allow us to see stars even on the darkest days. Below are true testimonies of how his butterfly wings and your JCWWP contributions help others continue to soar, and for us to beam with pride…

Thank you again for being there as our broken hearts slowly heal and for your generous support… May this holiday bring you peace, love, faith, friendship and continued service to others–everything your friendsgiving gives us.

In Peace and Love,

Susan & Darrell Carr

www.justincarrwantsworldpeace.org

Susan’s Blog

www.justincarrwantsworldpeace.org/wordpress

THANKS GIVING TO THOSE IMPACTED BY JUSTIN & JCWWP HERE ARE WORDS FROM A FEW…

 “I want to do something amazing that will leave the world better than when I arrive…that’s a skill I learned from Justin.” Jackie —8th Grader

 “He had such goodness in his soul and he radiated kindness. He always put others before him. It was never about him. It’s as if his goal was to make everyone around him feel happy, and he always succeeded.” Marianne —12th Grader

He has truly changed me to be more accepting, to listen, and to be grateful for even the smallest of things. I hope to make my mark, to make an impact on the world…anyone who knew Justin undoubtedly derived inspiration from his demeanor and his determination. So any change any of us makes, is a change that Justin makes. Just know that Justin continues to live through me in college.” Maddy —College Freshman

 “Justin talked to me about how he was actually self-conscious in his swim team and even in acting about not being good enough and that fear is exactly what pushed him to be great. And that is the single most important piece of advice I have ever received in my life.”Eugénie—College Freshman

“I think I admired Justin from too far away, and I wish I could’ve taken him under my wings more (though he needed no help)…As I move further into adulthood, I know without question that…Justin will continue to anchor me to gratitude and positivity.” Evan—College Junior

“Justin’s legacy will always fuel them (the kids) with appreciation for the preciousness of life, engaging in it with courage, and serving the world. Whether they fully realize it now or not… Heck, that’s a lesson he left me. And trust me, I think of Justin often Shelley—Parent

 “The Holy Spirit is working through you. It is said, “If you want (World ) Peace,  work for justice.” Justin and justice have the same root: righteousness… ” Heaven (turquoise) and earth (brown) are filled with your glory… Amen!” Walk in the light….THERE WILL BE RIPPLES… AT EACH HEART BEAT…RIPPLES OF LOVE…RIPPLES OF PEACE… RIPPLES OF MERCY…RIPPLES OF COMPASSION…RIPPLES OF POWER… RIPPLES OF LIGHT… RIPPLES OF JOY… RIPPLES OF ETERNAL LIFE ….“Fr Christopher ( La Rocca ) OCD Carmelite Missionary , Uganda —Susan’s Elementary School friend

The following is an example of special testimonies we received from those who either watched the news segment about us and Justin’s story prompting schools to test students for undetected heart disease or at a screening event:

“I have wanted to reach out to you to tell you about our August Screening event… You were on my heart that day as we were able to screen over 100 students through Cardiology and provide physicals. When I saw concerned Echocardiogram techs running down to catch a parent to meet with the Cardiologist again, I knew we had found something significant. The screening captured a serious life threatening undiagnosed condition in this young man…

I have wanted to tell you of this and let you know that I was thinking of Justin that whole day as I do at every event…I also felt a sense of peace as I told Justin…”we saved this one for you.” There was a sense of immense emotion as we gave this child back to his mom and told her about your story. It brought tears to her eyes and she pledged to be praying for your family as well.

We are happy to have saved this one young man in Justin’s honor and memory, and we will continue to move into the future to provide cardiac screenings for our students. Hoping to save families the terrible grief you have been through. May God bless you today and everydayHigh School Nurse

These testimonies not only comfort us to know that the impact of Justin’s life continues, but are also evidence that the work of JCWWP Foundation must continue as well… Thank you!

A final testimony from SusanFor Thanksgivings past, our family trio would frequent San Francisco to visit my family. But in 2012, Justin insisted all family up North travel south to our home. Thrilled, Justin made a floor plan of the sleeping arrangements (those engineer genes in him!), and carefully planned an excursion to visit his favorite playground, Disneyland.   We all had a fun, fabulous time. He was so excited that his staycation was successful… We don’t know what made him insist on wanting to celebrate at home, but we are so blessed that our last Thanksgiving with Justin was so full of happiness, laughter and love…

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JCWWP FRIENDSGIVING 2014
JCWWP FRIENDSGIVING 2014

JCWWP THANKSGIVING 2014
JCWWP THANKSGIVING 2014

 

JUSTIN WITH HIS LITTLE COUSINS ON THANKSGIVING 2014
JUSTIN WITH HIS LITTLE COUSINS ON THANKSGIVING 2012

MOMMY & ME DISNEYLAND 2012
MOMMY & ME DISNEYLAND DAY AFTER THANKSGIVING  2012

SUSAN'S THANKSGIVING WISH FROM 2ND GRADE FOUND 11/26/2014 IN PARENTS STORAGE
SUSAN’S THANKSGIVING WISH FROM 2ND GRADE FOUND 11/26/2014 IN PARENTS STORAGE (I CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP)

 

JUSTIN IN UGANDA BEFORE  HIS SURGERY
JUSTIN IN UGANDA BEFORE
HIS SURGERY

“These Boots are Made for Walking…”

For those whose know me I really don’t have the passion anymore to shop or buy anything. A few weeks ago, as I looked down at my (Justin’s) old tattered and torn brown converse shoes that I wear most days, I thought to myself… You need to get some new shoes.! So, I hastily went on the internet in search of something turquoise and these boots came up. I purchased the last pair in my size.

New Boots
New Boots

I opened the box today and when I looked at the bottom of the boot, I was floored. Darrell asked me ” How much did it cost to get Justin’s name on them? I looked at him and said: ” This is the name of the boots. They came like this.!”

Justin's Boots

So, I am adding these pictures to say ” I can’t make this stuff up!” My “Rhinestone Cowboy” Justin was telling me to get some new shoes!!! As you all know I will continue to walk to the end of the Earth in honor of  my beloved son Justin.

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These boots are made for walking and that’s just what they’ll do…

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Father to Son ( As told by Darrell)

When Darrell told me about his experience a few days ago, I told him that he needed to write it down so that he could remember the details.  I’m so glad that he did..

Message from Darrell…

“Today I received a last minute invitation from a family friend Angie Daves, to attend a lecture/reading from Theresa Caputo on our loves ones on the other side, we call Heaven. The Long Island Medium and author of “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” sold out the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills. After weaving in & out of L.A. traffic, I arrived with 5 minutes to spare. Our seats were 3 rows from the back wall in the balcony. But that wasn’t important to me as long as I could hear her speak. She started out by asking if anyone lost their wife, several people raised their hands. Then who lost a husband? To be honest I thought these questions were to general, and any crowd could answer. Then she ask did someone lose their son, I wanted to shout “yes me! ” but she would not have been able to hear me. So I sat quietly and answered all her questions silently. All of her information came from the spirits that contact Theresa. She ask, was there something built in their sons memory, like a bench to sit on. Was there a message scribed in cement? his hand print is pressed in cement in the yard. There is a tree planted for him.

Rock Bench built from the labor of love
Darrell’s Garden a tribute to Justin. The  rock Bench and plants are all  from his labor of love for Justin

There is an article written about this young man.

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There was a release of something like balloons or butterflies in his memory?

Real Butterfly Flew on Darrell in Arizona
Real Butterfly Flew on Darrell

Butterfly Release
Butterfly Release

 

There is also a scholarship named after him.

JCWWP Foundation to help others
JCWWP Foundation to help others

 

This young man passed at an early age, before his time. His passing had something to do with something inside his chest. I sat there still and quiet with tears welled up in my eyes, yearning to just hug my beautiful son and tell him I love him with all my heart. All of that information had to be my beautiful son Justin Carr. The other people that had answered the first few questions put their hands down not able to answer yes to all questions like I was able to, the proud father of Justin Carr Wants World Peace.”

Thank you Angie for inviting Darrell. He will think about this event for many days and years to come.

Justin and Auntie Angie
Justin and Auntie Angie

 

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Celebrating Dad
Celebrating Dad  Father’s Day 2012

 

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I know that Darrell was the best Father to Justin. He taught him at an early age how to do things for himself, to build with his hands, to be resourceful, tie a tie, sing a song and to be a gentleman and to take care of himself.  Darrell called Justin his Champ.   I know that Darrell can relate to Langston Hughes famous poem… even though it is called ” Mother to Son”, Life without Justin has not been a crystal stair. Justin loved Langston Hughes and he wrote a poignant poem about him weeks before his transition. Stay tuned to read it one day.

 

Mother to Son
BY LANGSTON HUGHES
Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
Bare.
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

 

*** I do not watch TV and did not know who this Theresa Caputo is. Now I do and I could not believe  that her book is titled “I can’t make this stuff up”  A phrase I often use…  Susan

“THE KING AND I” …AS SPOKEN BY THE “QUEEN”

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The Greatest Birthday Gift of All… Since today this April 3, 2014 is my Birthday..

THE KING AND I
AS SPOKEN BY THE “QUEEN”

About three weeks ago I received a message via the www.justincarrwantsworldpeace.org website and it took my breath away. You see, it was from a young woman whose name is Taguhi. I had lost track of her and I had tried to track her down over the past few years; especially in 2013 when we lost Justin. I had not seen her since April 3, 2008 when she came to my birthday party.

That year, I wanted to have a party at a roller skating rink. Darrell and Justin thought I was absolutely nuts. Justin said; “How scary was that going to be to see a bunch of “old people” trying to move around on skates w/o falling and breaking bones as they attempt to groove to the “oldies but goodies songs?” OMG Mom, Stop!!! They had other plans Justin and Darrell were mad at me because they wanted to surprise me with a dinner party at the lodge across the street from our house. Once again, I foiled their well thought out plans. Since Justin was a perfectionist of sorts, and he didn’t know how to roller skate, he felt I was being selfish to have even considered having a party where he claimed he would not have any fun! And he also knew I was not the best roller skater anyway.

Because, he learned early from my childhood stories that I told him often about what we did growing up in San Francisco, where we lived on a steep hill. Roller skating was not in the equation of fun in our neighborhood. However, we did make good use of the hills during “wax board” season. After school, all the kids would run home do their homework, grab a bar of soap, a cup of good old Crisco oil or old candles and gather on the streets. We would get planks of wood, or sheets of plywood and let the waxing begin. We waxed every inch of the boards to perfection with wax, soap or oil. Upon completion, we would truck up to the top of the hill by “Kite mountain” and sit solo on the unwaxed side of the board, and sometimes we would let the toddlers ride in tandem as we flew at high speeds down the hill racing like the fast and the furious. We were indeed a lucky bunch of kids, no major injuries, only an occasional burn or scratch…So, instead of roller skating, ice-skating was our thing in the city. We would run down the hill and go to Legg’s rink on Ocean Avenue.

So, I wanted to have an old fashion “Rollbounce” skating party. I just wanted to do something different. I had not had a large party in some years and I wanted to have some fun. As a mother of all mothers, I told my men of the house not to worry. Subsequently, I enrolled Justin and his God brothers Sean and Miles in Saturday lessons at Moonlight in Glendale, CA. After a few classes, they quickly learned the basic techniques of roller skating and then they were well prepared on party day…. To keep Justin involved, I told him he could design my birthday cake. He was thrilled and said proudly, “Thanks, Mom, I’m glad you are having a roller skating party, I will design a special cake for you.” You can see from the attached picture, that Justin was creative and loved the color turquoise long ago. The party was a huge success and everyone young and old had so much fun. There were a few bruises and slips and falls, but everyone had fun!!

I first met Taguhi when I was searching for a “mothers helper” to take care of Justin when he got out of school in the 5th grade. I was working on the design team for a proposed theme park in Abu Dhabi, UAE, and my time was not as flexible. All of the people who had been recommended to me to help had already secured employment, so I had to cautiously put and ad on Craig’s List. Yes, that’s right, Craig’s List. Not sure if I would recommend that today, but it worked for me back then. Darrell and Justin thought I had really lost my mind. As usual, I assured them both that I would do my research and interview accordingly. I felt that I was pretty good at assessing the character of people.

Taguhi responded to my ad, I interviewed her over lunch and then invited her to our home to meet Darrell and Justin. Besides being stunning and focused during our conversation, she seemed to have a caring and quiet confidence and understood clearly what this ” hovering helicopter (kind of but not really) OTTO pilot mother was going to expect from her as she cared for her prize possession during her absence.

Initially, I think Darrell scared her with his questions and stern tone. I could see that Justin was smitten with her beauty and calm presence coupled with the fact that she brought him a supreme fruit tart from “Portos” as a treat. Taguhi seemed very relaxed and comfortable and honest. I sealed the deal and offered her the position when she did not hesitate to give me references, her social security number, license etc. for the official background check. She passed with flying colors and was hired within a few weeks. She told us that it would be easier for us to call her “Queen” because that is what her name meant in Armenian.

After the first day of pick up, Justin came home and said he had a very good day. He was laughing and smiling with pride because he said, “When Queen rolled up dressed to the nines in her chariot red two door BMW, and got out of the car to get him, those fifth grade boys could not contain themselves as they yelled out to him Justin, who is that ? Justin said he smiled ( I’m sure flashing that million dollar smile ) and said ” That’s Queen, my nanny” They replied “Justin you have a “hot nanny!”

As the days and years went by, Queen lived up to and exceeded all of our expectations. She loved Justin and he loved her. Not once was there a complaint about her from Justin. They were partners who traversed across the San Gabriel Valley hills from Sierra Madre to Altadena to Pasadena; riding in style in her royal car (which I must say that she drove a better car than me). And as Justin quickly got taller than her, she had to look up to him as her “King child” and he looked down to her as his Queen. The respect was mutual.

Our family jewel Queen nurtured him, listened to him, laughed with him and most importantly she encouraged him and she continued to instill our family values when she was with him. She became an integral part of our family. Not only did she pick Justin up on time, fix him treats, drop him off at the Rose Bowl for swim practice she also loved him as if he were her own. When Justin entered Harvard- Westlake in the 7th grade, the Atlantic Bus coach took over and served all of our Transportation needs. Subsequently, Queen decided to continue school and she moved hundreds of miles away.

Over the years we lost contact. Last year I desperately tried to find her to shed the unimaginable news to her about our Prince of Peace, her King. The email and phone contact information that I had for her was old and not current, google and social media searches turned up nothing, and so I lost hope of ever seeing her again.

Everything changed when I received the following message from Queen a few weeks back. After we caught up for hours she said I could share her message with the world and I told her when the time hit me I was going to write about it. So today being April 3, and my birthday, I felt that today I would share this gift. We are so grateful for this gift we received from our Queen. Learning the depth of her relationship and the back story of her yesteryear gone by with Justin (that are still indelibly engraved in her mind) will be cherish forever.

Following is Queen’s version of ” The King and I :

“From: Taguhi
Date: March 13, 2014, 1:30:57 PM PDT
To: justincarrwwp@gmail.com

Dear Susan & Darrell,

This is Queen, Justin’s sitter from years ago. I am so sorry to hear about the terrible tragedy that struck your hearts and lives a year ago. I just found out this morning about what happened to Justin. Justin was such a brilliant child, so talented, so smart and with a gentle spirit about him, I knew he was destined for greatness. I remember thinking many times to myself ” I can’t wait to see the man Justin becomes, what he does in his life, the places he goes…” This morning when I woke up, as I was having my morning coffee, Justin came to my mind as he often has throughout the years. I have thought of him and your family with great joy in my heart, recalling memories from what seems like ages ago. I decided to Google him and anticipated to find some really cool stuff he may have been up to that was sure to make me smile. I was devastated to find an article come up saying that Justin had died a year ago. I am so so sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine how difficult it has been, and still is, for two loving parents such as yourselves to cope with such an unthinkable loss.  I had the great pleasure of being in your lives daily for some time and witnessed the great level of dedication you had as parents to an amazing boy. Your pride and your joy. Your lives were so clearly and selflessly dedicated to this child, an angel, who was equally dedicated to his loving parents. I pray that your heavy hearts are lightened as you continually hear how Justin touched the lives of so many people during his short time on earth! I am one of the many who Justin has made a huge impact on. He was wise beyond his years, with an intuition and empathy for others that was striking to me for someone of his young age. I remember his joyous face, his bright eyes that sparkled on any given day, and his contagious laugh. Sometimes I’d hear Justin break out into a song out of nowhere, expressing out loud what he was feeling in his heart, and it would make my heart smile too. Justin had so much insight into people, like he was connecting with each person he came into contact with on a deeper level than most people do. I remember picking him up after school, and us driving down the scenic road together while he told me about his day; what he did, who he came into contact with and what his thoughts were about things. He was so perceptive about things. I often felt I was in the presence of an old soul who had been around longer than his years gave away! Some days we would drive by Justin’s favorite house in the neighborhood, close to your family home. Together we would marvel at the architecture and landscaping. He had such an eye for beauty of all sorts, and he certainly knew how to appreciate the finer things in life. Fine food, fine art, fine interior design. I recall how involved he was in the plans to redesign your kitchen. I watched him express himself in so many creative and artistic ways. I also saw the strength he had within him to be true to who he was while others may have been different. I remember the determination he had to be as good as he can be. I remember his heart and how unselfish he was. He was often preoccupied with making sure his loved ones were happy, and if that was the case then he certainly was happy. He had such an amazing sense of humor and could find joy in any seemingly dull moment. I don’t recall my antics during my time with Justin, but I remember him laughing loudly at times and say teasingly “Queen, you’re crazy!” I remember how at such a young age Justin was already able to value and appreciate all that you as his parents had done and were doing for him. He was so polite and demonstrated such high moral standards. Every day I had with Justin was a gift for me. I was proud to have known him in my life and honored at having been in his presence. While no one expected that his life would be cut so short, and we all had such great expectations of his bright future….I can see that he already accomplished so much while he was here and touched and changed so many lives. While he is no longer here in his physical form, I believe he is with us in spirit and continually lives within our hearts. I believe he had a special place reserved just for him up there with the angels and he’s having such a good time. I also believe that all he still really wants is for his Mom and Dad to be happy. Susan and Darrell, I pray for you to heal and be happy again. While nothing can compare to the joy you felt in your hearts when you held Justin in your arms every day, what a joyous reunion it will be when he takes you into his arms when your journey is complete and you reach heaven. I asked myself many times how Justin happened to be so great in so many ways. I know that while a lot of it was unique to him and his soul and personality…I also saw how he flourished so beautifully because he had you as his parents. You are also an inspiration to me as parents. I am now a mother and while I haven’t been a mother for too long I have already found myself in situations asking myself “what should I do? what is the right thing to do?” I have thought “I wonder what Susan and Darrell did?” While I don’t know details I do know you were gentle, always loving, always encouraging and you took your time. Because nothing was more important than your darling child. My note of condolences to you is belated and somewhat long. Throughout the past year Justin was still alive for me in my life, and with his memory in my heart he will always be alive. I wanted to share some of my best memories of Justin with you too.

With all my love,
Queen”

I am so, so sorry that our Queen had to find out a whole year later about Justin. I can only visualize the pain, anguish and shock she felt learning of the news of her fallen King via the internet. There are no words except I am so glad that Queen was feeling Justin that day. Now we are re-united, she can now drive and walk with us through the valleys and over the hills in this life as we now know it without or precious son. As a new wife and mother, she/we laughed last week when we spoke and she admitted that she really could not afford that fancy car she was driving back then, but she learned from that crazy stage of young adulthood.

And so it is now going into year 2 without my baby and yet another birthday without hearing him sing to me on my special day, this April 3. I will cherish this gift from Queen. I will also make a wish and hope that my wish will come true.

May together we continue to love this life as Justin did by living it as bravely, faithfully and cheerfully as we can. The gift of hope for better days is all I’m asking and I can’t wait to dance, hug and maybe a bit of roller skating with my baby again. In the mean time, Darrell, my Prince Charming, will continue to hold my hand and roll, bounce or glide as we walk this road together in honor and memory of our Justin, our Prince of Peace.

All Hail to the Queen, she has spoken!

 

With love and praise ,

The Queen Mother, Susan aka OTTO, always Justin’s Mom

 

Photos of

Queen sitting in Justin’s designed Breakfast nook

Justin the King with his cousin Mia

Roller skating Cake designed by Justin, made by Violet’s Cake

Roller Skating Party Pictures

My birthday Wish

 

Note from the after the party to the guest:

Subject: Message about SUSAN TOLER CARR’S  ROLL BOUNCE BIRTHDAY PARTY 4/7/2008

HELLO FOLKS, JUST CHECKING IN ON THIS MONDAY MORNING TO MAKE SURE THAT YOUR
BONES AND MUSCLES ARE BACK TO NORMAL AND NOT ACHING TOO MUCH!! I HAD A BLAST
AND I HOPE YOU DID TOO. WE HAD OVER 190 PEOPLE THERE ENJOYING SOME GOOD OLD
FASHION FUN! 140 OF YOU WERE GROOVING ON WHEELS!!! THANKS SO MUCH FOR SHARING,
CARING AND BEING NEAR AND DEAR TO MY HEART. YOU ALL HAVE TOUCHED MY LIFE IN
DIFFERENT WAYS,. THANKS FOR ALL OF YOUR HUGS, CARDS AND GIFTS TOO. LOVE,
SUSAN. PICTURES ETC TO FOLLOW

 

NOTICE: This message (including any attachments) is protected by law.

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