Gerlinger Hall, University of Oregon
By Jerome Colonna
Since you left so suddenly and before we had a chance to say good-bye
to one another, I have been wanting to send you
Darn it, Justin, there must have been a real shortage of angels in heaven
on December 18th. We have been told that God
does not take children from their parents, He just receives them. God knows you were our family's treasure…to nurture,
to love and to help develop into the beautiful man you became. It is so sorrowful to know that we cannot form new memories
of you. We still share joys as a family but you are not able to be a part of them now and for that, we will be forever sorry.
Since the avalanche we just take these days one heart beat at a time. Our grief serves as an umbilical cord to keep you close
to us. Our sorrow, in effect, keeps us all wrapped tightly together.
Justin, we are sending love and light to help you on this new journey of your soul. They say you need our reassurance and
we know our love will protect you. You have not discontinued being in our lives; you have only gone on to another level of
existence. Now that your body has ceased to be your spirit has emerged free and unencumbered, just the way you always
Hey, Justo, Jim Ford sent me a letter last week. In it he said, "I learned from Justin and that is pretty special. He knew what
he stood for, was real as the day is long and had a zest for life. I try to be like that but he did it much better…much better.
He has and will continue to influence my behavior. I always looked forward to my exchanges with Justin at Sheldon High
School. I never felt like he was the student and I was the principal."
Justin, because we have not found you yet, I have to admit that I search
for you in crowds and hold out hope that you will
come marching through the front door at home and say, "Hi, dad, don't be sad anymore I'm o.k. and I'm back with all our
family and friends now." But the grim reality is that we can never hug you nor will you make your weekly telephone calls nor
will you ever again walk through the front door. We feel an intense sense of loss and frustration at the many unused years
you should have had. When your parent dies, Justin, you lose a part of your past but when your child dies, you lose a
significant part of your future. We realize that only eyes washed by tears can see clearly and that you have become Ann's,
Susan's and my greatest teacher.
Justin, here are a few updates for you. The Buffs won their bowl
game. Steely Dan just came out with their first newly-
recorded music in 20 years. Ann will be receiving your diploma for you on May 12 in Boulder. You will have a beautiful
teak bench, a rare ginkgo tree and a memorial plaque embedded in a large boulder in front of your favorite building on
campus. The bench looks out on the Mall and over the Flatiron Mountains. I dream of you sitting there and reading some
Joyce, Tolstoy or Dostoevsky.
Death has ended your life, son, but not our relationship. I pray
for peace for your heart, rest for your nights and hope for
your soul. You were the very best of us, Justin, and your absence will never, ever be replaced in our lives.
p.s. We'll see you when we get there.