A few weeks after Justin died, a friend kept reaching out until we had a date on the calendar to meet for lunch. Andy came too, so the three of us sat down to catch up. I don’t remember much of what we talked about, but I do remember this. My friend said, “Tell me your favorite story about your brother.” My mind went blank, “My favorite!?” She rescued me a moment later, “Okay, not your favorite, just any story.”
I thought for a minute. “You know how Junior High boys go through a stage where they realize that girls like cologne?” She immediately started nodding and laughing. I said, “Justin was no exception to this…and it was the mid-nineties, so do you remember Cool Water?” This led to a tangent about Cool Water cologne samples in teen magazines and lots more laughter.
Justin also had a cologne by Tommy Hilfiger called Tommy Boy (I’m pretty sure the cologne came before the movie). Most teenage boys often think “more is better.” Examples: Axe body spray, Old Spice, etc. Justin took to wearing both colognes at once, if for no other reason so that when girls asked him what he was wearing he could honestly answer, “Cool Boy.”
He never lacked for confidence.
It took me months to realize the gift my friend gave me by asking me to talk about Justin. She had never met him but had heard me share stories over the years. I don’t think she was asking to be polite, or because she thought it was the right thing to do. I think my friend could see that I was broken over the loss of my brother and she wanted me to know she cared.
I’m so glad she asked.