Today my baby cousin would’ve been 27 years old if some guys who looked just like him hadn’t killed him. (see pic, Justin is in the middle) Two years later it’s a miracle I can even write that sentence. I really don’t believe it, even though I write it and type it and think about it over and over again it still doesn’t seem real or make any kind of sense. Justin is dead. A prince, slaughtered. People whose lives will never ever resemble anything normal again. Ever. Who makes these decisions. That is my question. Who gets to decide who lives or dies and why or why not. These are the conversations you have with yourself while you are smiling with other people over lunch. Always brutally aware that you are dead inside in a way they aren’t. Unless they knew Justin or had a Justin equivalent in their lives; at least then you can not talk about it and still feel understood.My uncle, Justin’s father, one of the strongest most compassionate man I’ve even known, is shattered. My aunt, Joyce, Justin’s mommy, will never fully absorb it, I think, I hope, because that kind of thing will kill you. And it’s hard being dead inside and trying to live. I tell myself Justin is free. He’s a spirit watching and protecting and urging all of us forward and onward. The dead part inside of me screams bullshit. He was just 25. He was loved tremendously, thousands of times over by beautiful people. He was our hope. He was our example of what happens when you are a pure loving being. And he was shot in the chest while helping a friend (typical Justin) and his life spilled out of him and he died without us being able to see him, speak to him again. What could he have been thinking, those last moments. Questions that will haunt forever. Humans collide into others and change people’s worlds forever. Justin when you were born I pretended you were mine. I sat in the backseat and sang to you in your car seat. You had no idea what I was doing, this skinny little 13 year old girl, all cooky and in your face, looking into your bright fantastic eyes. And I knew you loved it because you smiled, and you were my baby cousin and if I knew something bad would ever happen to you, I would’ve run off with you and plotted against destiny. Any, all of us would have. Now we sit and try to live without really knowing how to. Life, derailed. We were supposed to see you graduate with that engineering degree. See the girl who was lucky enough to fall in love with you. We were supposed to smile coo and sing to your babies in the back seat. The numb feeling is almost as bad as the pain. Being numb is a free ride you have to pay back late at night, or when the phone rings and we know it’s not you, or when some latent memory rips the peeling off your heart that makes it impossible to breathe. I know you’re okay Justin, you’re taking care of us all from the best possible place. Pilar needs you, your mom, dad, sister, brother, nephew and nieces, grandmama, your uncles. Your older, proud, sad cousin. Something was snatched from and out of us that August day. Your mom said, we will all see you again, and our job is to try to love every day until we get there. We will be together again. But not yet. Not yet. This is all I have right now. It’s such a beautiful day to be sad. Such a sad day for it to be so beautiful.