It’s been almost a month since my best friend Justice died. Can I even call him that, my best friend? It feels incredibly selfish, because he was so many people’s best friend, people who he knew longer and saw more often. It feels empty to call him just my friend, though, because he was much more than just a friend to me. He was a confidante, a mentor, a travel buddy, someone to count on and to look up to, a protector. He was effortless, fearless, compassionate, empathetic, generous and loving. Yet still, it doesn’t feel right to call him my brother, either, because he already has a beautiful, amazing, strong sister who was very much a part of his life. So I’ll just call Justice my yin, because that’s what he was: the yin to my yang. The Cancer to my Leo. The ocean to my sun. The Harley to my beach cruiser. He complemented and balanced me in every way. And now, he is my inspiration and my muse.
Life feels different without Justice here. Everything just feels different. The physical, mental and emotional toll of grief are unlike anything I’ve dealt with before. I find myself crying in the middle of the day, when otherwise I felt fine. Sometimes I have no appetite at all, and other times I just want to binge eat junk food, things I never would have dreamed of eating before. Sometimes I can’t fall asleep, and other times I can’t get myself up. I feel numb and full of emotion at the same time. And I feel a pang I’ve never experienced before every time I hear that song, drive by that street, see that plant…
…and yet I am more grateful than I have ever been. I am grateful to have known Justice, and to have known him well. I am grateful for the love and support I’ve received and exchanged with his loved ones, my loved ones, acquaintances and strangers. I am grateful we were able to come together, hundreds of us, and celebrate his life at a beautiful nature center in our home town. I am grateful I was able to reconnect with some of our mutual friends I had fallen out of touch with, and I was able to include them in my birthday celebrations last week. I am grateful for my body, which allows me to work and play. I am grateful for my mind, which allows me to create. I am grateful for my heart, which allows me to give and receive love.
This past month has been heavy, but it has also been filled with light. While I experienced writer’s block for the first two weeks after Justice transitioned, these past two weeks I’ve felt an immense burst of creativity and passion. I’ve been journaling again daily for the first time in years. I organized a rooftop party for my 22nd birthday with dozens of my amazing, dynamic friends. And I’ve been helping with the campaign to rename and beautify our local skatepark in Justice’s honor (you can sign our petition here!). While grief is an inevitable and difficult journey we all must embark on at some point, this month I have realized that it can also lead to a constant state of gratitude for the lives and love we have experienced.
- Julia Alvarez
UPDATE: Julia passed away on January 9, 2022 at the age of 22 in a tragic car accident. She will be dearly missed by all. I know for a fact that she has touched so many souls, including mine. Here is a Tribute to a Beautiful Soul in her memory.