The hardest part of saying goodbye is having to do it again every single day. Every day we face the same truth. But life is fleeting. That our time here is short. And to honor the fallen, we must live our own lives well.
As I’m writing this tears are falling from my eyes because it doesn’t seem real that a whole year, 365 days has passed since we all got that call, text, social feed telling us the news that Joey our beloved, passionate, and so full of life brother was no longer here on this earth. Are we actually marking one year. One year that our community, our town, and our family lost a ray of light in this vast sea of darkness? It doesn’t seem real, none of this seems real! I don’t think I’ve actually fully come to terms with Joey being gone. Joey has never been far from my mind since that day, all I have to do is look at my wrist and see the wristband with his name on it and every time I get into my car his blue dog tag is right there hanging on my rear view mirror always reminding me that life is oh so precious and short. I imagine that he’s always right there in the passenger seat enjoying the ride. It’s going to take years for me to fully except that this actually happened that my lifelong childhood friend is really gone.
I’ve had many moments when I wanted to call up Joey and this was one of those moments…
When my cousin AJ Hawk retired from the NFL after 11 seasons, 9 of those 11 were with the GreenBay Packers (Joey’s favorite NFL Team). After my cousin announced his retirement I went to my phone and started texting him wanting to ask how he felt about it but that’s when I realized no one would respond back because my cousin retired on January 7, 2017— 27 days after Joey lost his life. It’s moments like that when I have to wake up once again to the realization that our friend, brother, son, teammate, and hero is no longer here on this earth because of one senseless act of gun violence. How does a mother wake up from losing her youngest- her baby boy? How does a sister go living her life without her baby brother? How does a father stay strong for his family and not feel like he should have done something to protect his son even though no one knew how that night would end.
So instead of remembering how my friend, my brother, our hero died I choose to remember Joey like the character he was.