January 22, 2000
"There are so many facets of this loss; the loss to you the loss to
Justin, the loss to his mother,
sister, other relatives, friends, the future people he could have known, the family he could have
had, the learning and contributing he would have undoubtedly continued to do. It is particularly
hard, the age that Justin was. As we said on the phone, he was on the verge of so much, who
he was going to become was coming into focus, he was being more of a peer, a friend, a
companion, another adult, a man. So much promise!"
An e-mail message from Lee Scriggins, U. of Colorado, Victim's Assistance Service, to me
on Jan., 20, 2000 (used with Ms. Scriggins permission).
Hello and Welcome. I am Jerome Colonna, Justin's father. We welcome
all of you to a celebration
of the life of Justin Anthony Colonna. Justin was born on 2-26-76 and he died on 12-18-99.
Sense of Community. There is a strong sense of community here
in Boulder, the town of
Nederland and the surrounding area. That is, when one of us loses a child/loved one, it is felt
by all of us as if in each case the person were our own. Our family has felt this from those of
you here and many others throughout the days since Justin died.
Thanks and Gratitude. We can not thank everyone or even all the
organizations that have helped
our family since the tragedy. The following list is not complete, but we will attempt to thank the
many we are aware of who have assisted us:
*The Rocky Mountain Rescue Group, especially Bill May (president of
board) and Ric
Henrickson (group leader).
*Boulder County Sheriff Dept., especially Jim, Larry and Dave.
*Dale Atkins of the Colorado Avalanche Info. Center.
*Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance, especially Nancy and Laura.
*The Media for their comprehensive, professional and sensitive coverage, especially Jason and Logan.
*The Fisher family for lodging/feeding our family and setting up the Justin Colonna Memorial Fund.
*The Chancellor of the Colorado University System of Higher Ed.
*The President of C.U.
*The College of Arts/Sciences administration for allowing Justin to graduate posthumously.
*The C.U. staff and Justin's professors who brought forth his curiosity, love of learning and academic
*Ellen Brock, Justin's mentor in the Science Discovery Program.
*Ron Stump, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs; our family considers Ron a hero.
*There is a saint in the audience, her name is Lee Scriggins from the C.U. Victim Assistance
Program. Lee has been incredible in preserving Justin's memory and helping our family!
*Finally, a great big thank you goes to the friends, family members and all others who worked
so hard to make this night possible.
Community of Learners. A person who dies young and unexpectedly
becomes their loved ones'
greatest teacher. I ask you to join our family in being a community of learners who can benefit
in our own lives from the positive growth that Justin's loss can provide. I will mention eight points
that represent learning opportunities for your consideration.
1. We can never do a kindness too soon, because we never know how soon it will be too late.
2. Deep pain and grief is not a problem to be solved, but rather
it is a clear statement that you
intensely loved someone.
3. It is only through our greatest losses that we learn the truest values and highest priorities of this life.
4. Pain, in time, moves to healing but the healing will never
erase all the pain. We will carry the
pain forever, not as an overwhelming force but instead as a sincere, loving reminder.
5. The heartache so many of us now experience will cause a new
window of understanding to
open in our lives and in our hearts; it helps us to become more and never, ever less.
6. We do not need to go shopping for a full life! It is
right in front of us waiting. All we need to
do is notice.
7. Talking to our deceased loved ones is of great value.
Recently, Justin has been saying to me.
"Don't worry dad, this is going to be better than you can ever imagine. You must get rid of the
sadness and bring more joy into your life. Then and only then will you be able to hear me more clearly."
8. I'll now try to live each day as if it is my last and keep
an eternal hope for a 10,000 more days
just like this one.
Privilege To Be a Parent. I can, after 55 years of life, now
say how much of a honor it is to be a
parent. I am so grateful that God granted me the privilege to be Justin and Ann's father.
Poem. I will conclude by reading a poem that was sent by Rachel
Powell of Corvallis, Oregon. She
lost her daughter, a student at Willamette U., in a tragic accident three years ago.
To Those I Love And Those Who Love Me
When I am gone, release me, let me go...
I have so many things to see and do.
You mustn't tie yourself to me with tears.
Be happy that we had so many years.
I gave you my love. You can only guess how much you gave to me in happiness.
I thank you for the love each of you have shown,
but now it's time I traveled on alone.
So grieve for awhile for me if grieve you must...
then let your grief be comforted by trust.
It's only for awhile that we must part,
so bless the memories within your hear.
I won't be far away, for life goes on;
so if you need me, call, and I'll be near,
and if you listen with your heart, you'll hear
all my love around you soft and clear.
And then, when you must come this way alone,
I'll greet you with a smile and say, "Hi dad, welcome home".
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