I never really knew much about the town I grew up in. I couldn’t see what was where and always had people to drive me places, because being a suburb it always suffered a severe lack of public transportation.
I did know a select few places though – my schools, my home, and of course I knew that Cartwright Road in Mesquite was either at, or close to, the location of McDonald’s. So, to me, Cartwright Road was always associated with McDonald’s.
Now though, it’s a cross and flowers; a monument to a truly beautiful soul, as it will be from now on. That McDonald’s is no longer just another McDonald’s, but the last place my bro would ever try to go and something we both loved. On Cartwright, just 30 seconds from McDonald’s is where he made his final thoughts, his final plans, saw his final rays of sunshine, maybe said his final words. Cartwright Road is more than just a passing point to other destinations now, or the route to McDonald’s, it’s Justin’s road home.
When he left, he took his one of a kind light with him. All those names written on the cross, all of us who didn’t mark it but stood by it, stroked it, contemplated it, we know how dark it is now. All those strangers who drive past it may see it out their window – but no way can they see the names and messages written on it, probably already blurred by time and the weather. It’s okay though, because I know it’s not their cross to bear. There’s no way they can feel the pain now because though they continue to drive on, he’s already home. I only wish they’d been given the blessing, as have I and several others, to share some of their lives with him.
And that’s what Cartwright Road means to me now – years and years of stolen life and opportunities. So much sadness and sorrow. Such deep longing and feelings of loss that it seems they have no end. Nights of silently and sometimes, when I’m alone, not so silently calling to the heavens for just one more opportunity to hear his voice, for him to tell me, “Hey Stuge, come here and give me a hug,” just one more time.
In my lowest points I wish I was the one on Cartwright Road that day – anything if it would bring him back to us. But just as it’s not the burden of all those strangers driving past his cross to stop and morn, it wasn’t my time to go; it was his. I don’t think it’s fair, but I know I’m not the one to make that call.
I do not know how long it will be before I get home, but at least I know that when I get there, one of my favorite people in the whole wide world and beyond will have a light on for me. And when I walk in, he’ll want to know all about my journey, and I his. We’ll sit down to a table of chili dogs, both of us cradling cats in our laps, and we’ll talk, and laugh, and be absolute weirdos as we sit and listen to all those heavy metal bands he liked but I never could remember the names of.
And that is what I’ll remember, as I drive towards, and call out to my buddy at home just a little ways down Cartwright Road. And I hope that anyone else suffering with loss, unexpected or otherwise, can find strength in the fact that you too will get to walk into a warm house one day, warmed by not only your loved one, but Justin. Maybe they’ve already met, maybe Justin’s up there pulling pranks on them or sitting there with them for hours on end helping them through something they can’t figure out, or maybe he’s trying to impress them with his super long beard or the muscles he worked so hard to buff up. He’s probably telling them that unlike his little brother said, those aren’t tiny water pistols, they’re rocket launchers! I don’t know, but whatever Justin’s doing, realize that he’s brightening someone’s day up there.
I love you Justin.
Forever And Always,