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.