I reflected upon our teens as they honoured their friend, Justin, who tragically took his own life this week. And though their actions brought grief and tearful reminders I couldn’t help but be proud of their symbology, their respect, and their love for one who truly suffered quietly amongst them.
The girls junior volleyball team played the city finals with his initials, JM, written on their legs. The boys junior football team with whom he’d played, walked onto the field holding hands and carrying his jersey, a reflection and memory of what he meant to them. A banner was lovingly made with fabric, thread, and crayons. Balloons were released into the air. A moment of silence was given to reflect. The opposing team, Robert Thirsk, wore the Aberhart school colours on theirs sleeves out of respect for the team who mourned him.
Justin, I curse the illness of depression because it took you from those who loved you. But upon witnessing the impact of your loss I feel the strength you must have had, for even while fighting the voice inside, the voice that told you no one cared, you made an impact on so many. You fought an illness most couldn’t imagine fighting and during that battle you still found the strength to smile, laugh, lead, and shine. Your life was cut short at sixteen years but my goodness, a lot of people were truly touched by you. For that, you have all of my respect.
For those fighting depression, you must know this, you have touched someone in a life changing way also, and every minute you are here on this earth you will continue to do so. You need to tell an adult close to you. Tell them now. They want to share your burden with you and this is not a battle you can fight alone. You need the strength of others to help you.
For those who fought alongside Justin, you tried, you loved him, you cried in despair, but please know this, you did all you could. No one can be blamed for this. You kept Justin with us and during that time he was a son, a friend, a comfort, a team player, and a person many looked up to. And for that, I truly thank you.
God bless you, Justin.