March 12, 2011

Who You'd Be Today...

Today, my best friend should be celebrating his 27th birthday.
He should be celebrating a year and six days of marriage to his wonderful wife.
He should be watching his little brother live his dream of playing football at Carolina.
He should still be making me laugh until my face hurts.
He should be making amazing Charlie Sheen impressions.

Justin's life was shortened after suffering from a heart attack caused by a childhood heart condition.  He was diagnosed with kawasaki disease when he was six.  The disease affected his heart.  He had two open-heart surgeries before he was twelve.  Until September 17, 2009, Justin had been in perfect health.  While playing in a church league softball game, he hit a triple and slide head-first into third.  This slide caused his stint to move out of place.  A few minutes later he went into cardiac arrest.  After a grueling, anxiety weekend at MUSC, Justin was taken from us.

Justin's dad and my dad were in the same fraternity at Carolina.  Our families have always been close.  Justin and I grew up together, going to same church since we were toddlers.  We went to high school together and I joined him at Carolina during his Senior year.  He was my "big brother."  He had a contagious smile and laugh.  He was by far the funniest person I have ever known.  We turned to each other for the really hard stuff in life.  He did the best impressions of people.  He loved Will Ferrell and SNL.  

Before he died, Justin proposed to Fleming, his college sweetheart.  They were suppose to get married on March 6, 2010.  Before Justin died, he found out that his brother, Jake, had made the Carolina football team.  But, he never got to see him take the field.

Me, Justin, Fleming, and Ray before the Carolina-Clemson game 2007
Four Amigos - Justin, Allen, Corey, & Ray
It was rare for us to take a serious picture.
I was always close with both Justin and Jake, but I have stepped into a big sis role for Jake. (see here)  I am so proud of all his accomplishments on the football field and in the classroom.  He is currently rocking a 4.0 at Carolina.  He played in five games last season and had four tackles.

Jus and Jake - Jake's Senior year
If you have ever lost anyone close to you, then you know the pain and grief I experienced.  There is honestly a day that doesn't go by that I don't think of Justin.  I still turn to him for the tough decisions of my life.  I think about all the things he wasn't able to see in person.  The things he wasn't able to experience and enjoy.  The life that was taken from him and Fleming.  I wish he was here to make me smile just when I need it.  I still wonder why?  And, I don't know if I ever will stop.



  1. oh Ashton! this post pulled at my heartstrings...this time of year is always hard for me because I lost a close friend on March 15, 2003. He had SO much going for him and he died suddenly in a car accident...I always think about him when I go through milestones (like graduating from college or getting married), but I think about him every day too....just like you do with Justin. I think the best thing to do is to keep their memories alive and keep smiling, because we know the Lord took them to a much better place! There's really no reason why...nor would we ever understand it. Keep your head up, my love! xoxo {av}

  2. Hey Ashton....not sure if you remember me or not - we met briefly when you lived with Brooke N. Just found your blog through AV.

    I've been thinking about Justin all day...thanks for such a beautiful post about such a great guy.

  3. Hey Ashton, I just found your blog, and I am so sorry about Justin. This post was such a beuatiful tribute, but so sad! I'll be thinking about you during this sad time xoxo!

  4. Oh my gosh! YES! We would love any suggestions- we have a list of ideas from what people have recommended, but would love more ideas! Restaurants, must see tourist attractions, night life, etc… Would love more ideas! Thank you! :)

  5. I heard about this when it happened- so terribly sad! A girl I work with at Just the Thing is best friends with Fleming.
    I didn't know you went to Thomas Heyward! My very best friend from childhood went there her junior and senior years and graduated in 2002.


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