I don’ t do well with sad occasions. I avoid the feeling as much as possible — I refuse to watch sad/ scary movies or television shows or books. The last semi-sad movie I watched was Marley and Me, and I absolutely bawled. And then I was depressed for like a week. Over a pet that wasn’t mine. But sometimes you have to face sad occasions in the face and do the best you can. Last Monday, a very good friend of mine passed away. He was young, bright, funny, handsome, a prankster. He was like a people magnet — it didn’t matter where he was, he attracted people. His personality was contagious. We were practically inseparable in college. We both played clarinet in the marching and pep bands. We lived in the same dorm. We had the same friends and did the same things. He loved tacos….actually, “loved” isn’t the word… he was obsessed with tacos. This kid could eat tacos every day for every meal and still want more. He loved his friends fiercely and had such a kind heart. He wasn’t perfect or anything, not by any stretch of imagination, but he’s someone who did the best he could do in the situations he was in.
I’ve decided not to dwell on his death, but celebrate his life and share some of the funny stories and pictures I have of him.
I really wish I had more photos of me and Josh. I really do. Digital cameras were the “new thing” when we were freshman and I didn’t have one yet, so any photos I have I printed and had to scan in. Even then, though, I don’t have many. (as a side note, if you have photos of Josh that you want posted, just email me. thanks)
The first time I met Josh (well, besides in all-county band in high school. He went to West Rowan and I went to East, so I suppose we were rivals from the start. But that doesn’t count since I didn’t really talk to him) was first day of band camp in college. I remember walking up to Coulter (that’s where the band room was) and I was so incredibly nervous — I knew virtually no one and was not exactly what you’d call an extrovert. The first thing he says to me was, “Do you have any reeds? I don’t have any.” Really, Josh? Really? You come to band camp without any reeds? I can’t remember what I said, but I’m sure it was witty and/or sarcastic. I guess it shouldn’t have surprised me — the boy had never been in a marching band before. I remember that floored our clarinet instructors — they had to teach him the basic fundamentals before he could learn drill with the rest of us. haha that was pretty funny to watch He was the kind of kid people liked to pick on — not in a mean way or anything, but more in a loving way. He sort of became the instructors’ project that semester.
He’s the one of the left with his mouth open, wearing socks with sandals. I’m not sure if he was mid-yawn or if he was poking fun at me. Either is plausible.
Josh with a few of our fellow clarinet players. That was when we practiced on the baseball parking log. Imagine having to walk around parked cars….
I don’t really remember at what point we became friends, but I know it didn’t take long. He was what I like to call a social butterfly — he was friends with practically everyone. He was the one to break me of my ‘yo mama’ jokes (really annoying, I know). I couldn’t have known him for long, but I made some stupid ‘yo mama’ joke and he said, “My mom has passed away.” Thinking he was kidding, I said something like “no, she’s not. You’re just trying to make me feel bad.” “No, really. She died in a car accident.” I’ve never felt like such a jerk before. Josh didn’t talk about his mom much, and I didn’t ask questions. It wasn’t until his memorial service that I learned the wreck happened when we were in sixth grade. They had just moved to the Salisbury area. I had assumed it happened when he was real young — either way, I can’t imagine how awful that must have been. He had always said he wanted to become a nurse to honor his mother, because the paramedics did all they could to save her and he wanted the opportunity to save other people, too. That’s the type of person he was. When he set his sights on something, he didn’t stop until he achieved it.
And he loved his dad so, so, so much. And I know his dad loved him, too. They were like two peas in a pod. Josh called his dad often in college and he was always the first person Josh went to when he needed advice or if he received a bit of good news. His dad and his step mom are the two nicest people you’ll ever meet. I did okay at the memorial service until I saw them. And then the waterworks came. But Jasper and Linda, your son loved you with all his heart. I just wanted you to know that. 🙂
Josh, hanging out in mine and Tabatha’s room. He always wore a hat, backwards, until he shaved his head for the Army. I preferred the shaved head; I wasn’t a fan of the Leonardo DiCaprio-inspired cut. Ri-dic-u-lous.
Josh was also quite the prankster. He and Marty, his roommate, were always in to something. For instance, one day he and Marty decided to take a couch from the UC and put it in their dorm room. “They’re just going to get rid of it anyway.” That was his justification. To be honest, they did replace the furniture the very next week. I guess he got wind of it from working in Chic-fil-a. Imagine, if you will, a couch strapped on top of a vehicle at the entrance of residence hall — and no one questioned it.
Occasionally, they’d pick up “treasures” along the side of the road. He and Marty considered it a shopping spree at the end of that fall semester when people were moving out — if you had anything you didn’t want, like furniture and bigger items, you just sort of left it at the curb. He found several items to use in his room, including this really ugly gold cordless phone (that was back when students actually used their dorm phone numbers). I mean, this thing was ugly — there was a reason why someone left it at the curb.
He also liked to throw things out the window — I know, I know, it sounds dumb and…. well, yeah it was dumb. But you’re allowed to be dumb at 18. He and Marty used to fill water balloons and drop them from their dorm window onto the people below. Sometimes I’d park behind our dorm and use the back entrance and would find all sorts of random items splattered on the asphalt. *sigh* “oh, Josh,” I’d say, shaking my head. One time, I noticed a bunch of gold plastic bits scattered on the ground, directly underneath where their window…. and then realized it was their smashed-up ugly gold phone. At least I didn’t have to see it anytime we hung out.
I remember when he announced he had joined the Army. “Don’t do it. It’s a huge mistake” (not that joining hte military is a mistake, but I didn’t want him to go). I fought it tooth-and-nail all the way up until he week he left. We had a party for him at Monterrey’s, a Mexican restuarant (of course) in Salisbury. We “kidnapped” him, made him try on ridiculous outfits at Old Navy, went out to eat and had cake.
Poor guy. He put up with a lot. haha
If memory serves me right, it was also Kendra’s birthday. We had the waiters come out with their big sombrero and then they sang their birthday song. Good times.
Then he accidentally dropped the cake on someone’s car, only to find out he thought the car was an old ex girlfriend’s (awful and dumb, I know. I’m probably not painting him in the best light, but it was kind of funny at the time) only to realize as we went on our way to his house that her car was still parked in her driveway and he “dropped” half a cake on a random person’s car. My sincerest apologies to anyone who found a random cake on their windshield summer 2003.
I’ll never forget the day he left for boot camp. I wasn’t originally going to see him off as it was pretty hard to say goodbye. Instead, I had planned to drive to Asheboro to see an ex boyfriend of mine who I was trying to establish a friendship with. He invited me over because he “knew how difficult it would be for me” that day, only to find out the real reason he had invited me over was to try and make me jealous by having some other chick hang all over him. I stormed out of his house, got in my car, drove a few miles down the road, and called Josh, blubbering like an idiot. I don’t think he understood a thing I said, but he invited me over anyway. If I hurried, I could still make it.
I must have driven 30 miles over the speed limit. I got there just in time to give him a hug, wipe my tears on his shirt and wave goodbye.
This is Josh at Family Day in South Carolina. Me and Jessica, his girlfriend at the time, skipped our first day of classes to go see him. He had written me a few times, mostly saying how much he hated it. He even wrote “and please, please don’t tell me this was a mistake.” I must have told him a million times before he went that it was a bad decision. But Josh was willing to go through the hard times to get to the good times, and I know he was extremely proud to finish boot camp. And, really, I was proud of him, too. I couldn’t have done it.
He was able to leave base, so his parents took us out to eat. I’m pretty sure I must have picked on him about something to get that face. :-p
We ate at a Mexican restaurant, because we all know how much he loved tacos… well, any type of Mexican food, really.
I’m not sure this picture needs a caption….
…. and neither does this one. haha
Josh and Mary working on one of his cars. Josh loved cool cars — he had a red Firebird and a purple one, too. Later, he bought a yellow Solstice, I believe. He promised to give me a ride in it, but that never happened. 😦
Jess took this one. We were at Tokyo Express in Salisbury. Notice I’m getting ready to elbow him in the stomach. haha. That’s how we rolled.
I helped him paint his apartment. I also put the smiley face on his face haha.
I still can’t believe you’re gone. I think it’s just now starting to set in. I know we sort of lost track of each other over the past year or so, but know you’ve been such a good friend to me — one of my best friends. I’ve cherished the friendship we had. Remember when I used to knock on your door every time I had boy troubles or any time I had a decision to make and didn’t know what to do? It didn’t matter what you were doing, you dropped it to help me. You did that with all your friends. You hated seeing people hurt and always wanted to help. I know you said you wanted to be a nurse to honor your mother, but I think it was also just in your blood. You can go to school to learn anatomy and how to administer IVs… but you can’t go to school to learn compassion — you just have to have it. And you, my friend, had it. You had so much zest for life — you made loosen up and reminded me that life is short, so you may as well have fun.
After your memorial service, we went to Taco Bell and had tacos in your honor. And they had purple and gold-colored flowers. So we put those together and toasted to you, our friend. And each Dec. 13, we’ll stop and have a taco, and remember you.
I’ve loved talking about you this week — about the good times we had. But most importantly, I’m just honored to have called you my friend. RIP, Josh.