In an ideal world, no parent would have to bear the burden of outliving their child.
But the world we live in is far from ideal.
Almost every day I hear or see a story of a random death, ranging from school shootings to tragic accidents. I’m sure you do as well. Ninety-nine times out of 100, we have no connection to these stories—so naturally, we shrug them off, never expecting that such unpredictable events will ever affect us.
On Feb. 22, Citrus College photography professor Darrell Carr and the entire campus community were hit with a shocking example of just how imperfect the world is when Justin Carr, his 16-year-old son, died suddenly during swimming practice at Harvard-Westlake High School.
When I heard the news the next Monday, I can tell you I’ve never felt more of a connection to this school before. I’ve only spoken with Darrell Carr a few times, but I’ve seen how much he cares for his students—and they hold him in even higher regard.
I can’t even begin to imagine how he and his family are dealing with the loss.
I wanted to find something, anything I could do to help, yet nothing seemed to be enough. Even though I work in a field that deals mostly with words, I realized the inadequacy of mere words in a situation like this.
Then, at Justin’s funeral this weekend, Darrell asked the attendees to do something in his son’s memory: to pursue world peace.
Last semester, I wrote a column on making every day count. I believe that thought applies here, in a different fashion. Starting today, I’m going to make sure the people in my life know how I appreciate them. I might let my staff know how much the work they do means to me. I might thank my professors for making me a little smarter than I was the day before. Hell, I might call up my exes and thank them for not slashing my tires.
But the one thing I will do is let my family know how much I love them. How I realize I wouldn’t be here without them. How I’m so grateful that they raised me the right way, despite my mistakes.
I won’t sit here and tell you I’ll do these things every day. But I will make sure that if I don’t see the light of the next day, that my important people will know how I felt about them.
That is what I’m going to do in memory of Justin Carr.
And if you do the same—and so do the people who are important to you, and the people that are important to them—maybe we might just achieve world peace for him. For all of us.
God bless Justin Carr and his family.