Justin ...

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posted on Mar, 11 2010 @ 06:54 PM
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Foreword: As some of you know, I recently took a trip to say both hello and goodbye to Justin (jkrog08). What follows is part of a letter I sent to staff earlier today regarding my trip. I share it with you at their suggestion and encouragement. These are my thoughts on the events that transpired as best I can recollect them. I share them with you because the collective consciousness of whole ATS community was with me on this, for lack of a better word, pilgrimage. To a lesser degree, I also share them with you to unburden myself of some of the pent up emotions within me … I hope you will not begrudge me this somewhat selfish cathartic act.


How does one meet a friend for the first time when they are dead?
Why am I moved to make this journey when other than our good friendship on ATS, Justin and I have never even spoken, much less met in person?


As news of Justin's passing were disclosed to me, I like most of you felt the shock, the overwhelming sorrow, anger at the universe, and general emotional devastation that was understandable under the circumstances. These feelings that were so eloquently expressed by hundreds of members on ATS' thread dedicated to Justin.

Still, there was a movement within me from the first moment on, which called me to this task. My approach to when these things have happened to me in the past is to simply trust them. To let go of the inquiry in the present moment, to not ask why, and hope that in due course the reasons will reveal themselves to me … or not, but either way to stop myself from deconstructing the moment into the mundane and fill truth with doubt with questions such as 'why'.

And so it went, and so I departed …

The journey began in earnest on Tuesday, on the road from Toledo to Peoria. I got in the car and put the book on the passenger seat, as one does, without a thought. I got on the road still with bittersweet memories of the night before. And somewhere in Indiana, as I looked on the seat next to me, I saw his face …



That is when it hit me …

And it dropped me to my knees ...

I pulled over, and for the first time since I walked out my door allowed my personal grief to flow unimpeded.

And for the next few hours, amidst waves of sorrow, Justin and I had conversations. I would look at his image on the seat next to me and I would talk to him, and he would talk back to me as I remembered things he said on his posts, or imagined what he would say to me at that moment, I sensed his kindness of spirit, and I would cry once more as I do now typing this.

I also heard him speak to me in song …


(click to open player in new window)



But as I got into Illinois a couple of hours away from him, I started the process of needed detachment for the task at hand. I need to say something because I don't want to misrepresent my intentions. As I got closer to my destination I still did not have the answers to the questions I asked at the start. But I am sincere when I say that it was not my intention to represent the ATS community. First of all I am just an ordinary member and as such it isn't my place to speak for you and/or any other ATS member. There were no presumptions in my heart in this regard, not to mention that the weight of such responsibility would have been unbearable. Instead, all I perceived in myself was a traveler of my own accord and a willful messenger of a book containing the thoughts my fellow members sentiments.

I got to Peoria, put my suit on, and started the final half hour drive to meet Justin, his family, and friends, for the first time … it was five in the afternoon. And because it is me we're talking about, I went to the wrong place. I thought the viewing was at the funeral home and it wasn't. In a panic I once again leaned on 12m8keall2c who calmed me down and pointed me to the right place, fifteen minutes further down the road, and I was on my way once more.

To say that I was nervous would be inaccurate. Trying to reply to one of MemoryShock's posts when I have no clue what he's going on about makes me nervous … this, this petrified me to the bone.

I didn't know a soul and they didn't know me, I didn't know for sure if they knew I was coming, I didn't know what I was going to say, I didn't know anything.

It was about five thirty when I walked into the church, and a few seconds later I gazed my first look on Justin's dead figure and his weeping family and friends. I sat down on the last pew, closed my eyes, and listened to the surrounding suffering and I cried again.

I must have been sitting there about ten minutes when I felt a hand on my shoulder, it was his ant asking me if I was from ATS. I looked at her and I said, 'well, I'm Justin's friend from ATS' and that I had something for his parents and family and would she mind passing it to them because I didn't want to interrupt their grieving. This lovely woman would have none of it, she grabbed my hand and took me to his mother … she knew that I was coming, she took the book and the plaque, she held it in her arms, and then cried on my shoulder for what must have been at least ten minutes in front of everyone. And when she let go Justin's father did the same, and his friends, and people who I still don't know who they were pouring their hearts and tears out on my shoulder. They all knew that I was coming and it was beyond words …

And this is where the beginning of the answers started to be realized, and this is really what I wanted to share with you beyond the lesser above mentioned points of my personal experience …

… that this book,in your gestures in their time of grief, this community of ours, the community that you have created and maintain, was to Justin's friends and family, and to all who knew him, the most important thing in the world to them.

Your efforts with the flowers and especially the thread booklet were appreciated beyond words by Justin's family. Not only because they discovered how many people cared for Justin, but because it gave them something to look forward to. Discovering an aspect of Justin's life that most were unfamiliar with, and an opportunity for them to still interact with him, learn from him, in effect sustain a relationship with him. As such, in the midst of their mourning an opportunity to continue sharing in Justin's life beyond its passing was a beautiful gift which you have imparted to his family and one that will make a true difference as they try to piece their own lives back together..

That night I drank bourbon, in a crappy hotel room in Peoria … a lot of it.

The next day i went to the funeral service. And after the priests finished mass, one of the most moving aspects of both days took place. His aunt stood up and read ALL the notes and good wishes written by ATSers on the funeral website guest book. It was truly special and I cried so much listening to the words of my friends in that moment, and so did Justin's family. That's how much appreciation they had for our community's feelings towards Justin, they actually read them aloud at his funeral. And what you guys and the whole ATS community have done will be a lasting memory and tribute to his whole family. In the midst of all the tragedy they simply could not have been prouder of Justin and how he has affected people from all over the world.

At the end of the funeral service I slowly removed myself from their grief and their lives and faded back onto the road. I did not attend the burial as i thought it appropriate for family and close friends only.

And that was it … I'm actually surprised at how I kept it together. I didn't fumble my words, and I don't think I said too little or too much. As I started driving back the sadness was still there, but it was different. And I had answered at least one of the two questions I had. I still don't know how one meets their friend for the first time when they're dead, but I know why the universe wanted me there. Namely to deliver a message, your message, and my fellow ATS members' message to Justin's family … the message of how much he is loved, how much he is respected, how many people he is influencing, his kindness, intelligence, imagination, creativity, craftsmanship, and everything that Justin IS. And that was everything to them … it was everything.

So thank you for entrusting me with that message. And I have a message from Justin's loved ones for you … the greatest thank you that Justin's family could muster to impart to you, the deepest felt gratitude for the ATS community, how much it meant to Justin, and how much it now means to them. Thank you for the beautiful flowers and that you for the book containing the enduring and extraordinary sentiments of his peers.

Thank you!


I hope you will forgive the rather lengthy and personal nature of the above, once more I need to emphasize the triviality of my presence in the course of these events as I truly see it as a vehicle rather than the substance. If there is any merit or credit to be imparted it should overwhelmingly be attributed to ATS ownership, staff, and membership for you have all made a difference in Justin's family's life in the realest of terms.

Thank you for allowing me to share all this with you, for allowing me to get it all of my chest … I say this with the greatest honesty, you were all there with me on every mile of the road and every moment in time.

Last, a massive thank you to a great deal of ATS staff and members who helped me, kept me company, gave me comfort … I could not have completed this journey without their help.

Regards.

schrodingers dog




posted on Mar, 11 2010 @ 06:58 PM
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Just a reminder to please keep the focus on the content of the experience and Justin.

There will be no interaction with personal identities on this thread, out of respect for Justin and His Family.

Thank you.

Edit to add a link to the previous thread: Our friend Jkrog

[edit on 12-3-2010 by Skyfloating]



posted on Mar, 11 2010 @ 07:03 PM
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was looking for the words. I recently lost someone very close to me, someonewho no matter how far i went was always there. I cannot share with you how heavy my shoes feel these day. I thank you for sharing some of your pain and joy. Though I can never be there with you, my eyes cloud over remembering.. Thank you. Though I could not help you though the pain, You have helped me.. thank you..



posted on Mar, 11 2010 @ 07:08 PM
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reply to post by schrodingers dog
 


SDog....thank you so much for sharing your writing with us all...amazingly tender and articulate. You should be very proud that you were such a fine representative for all of us.

I didn't know Justin either...we never spoke, although I was aware of his work, but besides the tragedy of losing him, I think this whole process has emphasised to many people, myself included, just how important we are all to each other, even if we never meet, and our whole relationship exists only in cyberspace. I have online friends that I love, and would be heartbroken without, and it's wonderful to hear that we collectively managed to show his family that he is so vital here.



Cait x

[edit on 11-3-2010 by caitlinfae]



posted on Mar, 11 2010 @ 07:08 PM
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OK, let's break this down. I'm a lot less verbose than the Dog.

He said he didn't want to be the focus of this thread. This is about Justin, Justin's family and their interaction with the members of ATS.

Let's please keep to that.



posted on Mar, 11 2010 @ 07:09 PM
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reply to post by schrodingers dog
 


SD
I know it is with some trepidation that you posted this, but this community and Justin's family appreciate it. I know they were so touched to learn about his his part on ATS and the people he had connected with worldwide. We have given them a link to his life that they knew nothing about, they will be able to keep getting to know him through his words here.


Zazz

[edit on 11-3-2010 by zazzafrazz]



posted on Mar, 11 2010 @ 07:14 PM
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Written like a true poet,

Very kind of you to do what you did SD.

Alot of times people think what happens online, or on forums has no real connection to real life, ... but this whole ordeal has been a testament to this community and how much of a difference one member can make.

It really is heart wrenching. In a beautiful way.

.. and I can only end this with my favorite quote :

death is nothing at all. i have only slipped away into the next room. i am i, and you are you. whatever we were to each other, that we still are. call me by my old familiar name, speak to me in the easy way you always used to. put no difference in your tone, wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together. play, smile, think of me, pray for me. let my name be ever the household word that it always was, let it be spoken without effort, no trace of a shadow on it. life means all that it ever meant. it is the same as it ever was. there is unbroken continuity. why should i be out of mind because i am out of sight? i am waiting for you, somewhere very near. just around the corner. all is well.
-- Henry Scott Holland 1847 - 1918
Canon of St Paul's, London



posted on Mar, 11 2010 @ 07:19 PM
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I am choked up beyond reason having read this... Thank you s-dog for making this pilgrimage and delivering the book, and sharing this story with the rest of us. To Justin, his family and friends, and to all of those here on ATS who should read this post, I have just this simple message:




posted on Mar, 11 2010 @ 07:20 PM
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That was an amazing post SD.

But even more amazing the community connections which have occurred with his tragic death, and the reading of all the ATS comments at the service. I am pretty much speechless. Just two words:

Thank You.



posted on Mar, 11 2010 @ 07:22 PM
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This should be a reminder to all of us that the words we write and the feelings we express here, even on the anonymous internet, have a lasting impact - one way or another. So we should always strive to make it a good lasting impact as Justin did.

The question I guess I will think about is this... Would I be proud to have my family and friends read all of the things I write? I'm not talking about the subjects we discuss but HOW we discuss them.



posted on Mar, 11 2010 @ 07:23 PM
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I also want to thank you for sharing this with us, SDog.

Justin's death is a tragic loss to all of us, on many different levels. That his family and friends found comfort in the loving words and messages from Justin's fellow ATS members is also a comfort to me.



posted on Mar, 11 2010 @ 07:24 PM
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Dear Justin's Family,

Our thoughts are with you through these tough times, Justin was a friend to many on ATS and he will live on here in our threads, our hearts, and our minds.

His work here on ATS will always be with us and a comfort in these times to us all,

We classed Justin as part of our family here on the boards, Our thoughts are all with you and we are always here if you need us too,

xxx



posted on Mar, 11 2010 @ 07:42 PM
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You know it is really decent what you guys do for members here at ATS.

I really dont know what to say but it reminds me of
Shots and what you guys did for him..

Cool work all of you.. cool work..



posted on Mar, 11 2010 @ 08:10 PM
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Thank you S~Dog for letting us know that we shared the journey with you, that our words were appreciated by the family and friends of Justin.

You were really scooting along in your video...... I thought it fitting, somehow that a spot on your windshield seemed to make a happy little "orb" accompanying you there.

You did us proud dog, and I know that wasn't your intent nor focus. I'm a bit more choked up right now than I have been in the previous few days. Justin smiles, and probably does a funny little shuffling, arm-waving dance, just because he's just THAT unselfconscious.

Peace, and thank you Justin for your life and influence. We won't forget you.



posted on Mar, 11 2010 @ 08:19 PM
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To whom it may concern:

Up until now I have said very little about Justin. There are many here who knew him much better than I, and I felt it best to quietly give them place.

That, however, does not diminish the fact that I as well feel a loss. As you have no doubt discovered, ATS is more than just another Internet site. It is a family of people who have come together to share with each other a single common desire, and have found those with whom they can share so much more.

Justin wished to see beyond the veil that covers us all, to chase truth wherever it led, and in the process he made many many friends. They, we, ATS, are all diminished with this loss, and we are all richer for having had him as part of our extended family here.

Oh, had I had the chance to know him better! Perhaps it is human nature to think there will always be another tomorrow, another chance, another time. I find it necessary tonight to cherish my own real-life family that much more, and to engage this family more actively. That is a final lesson I take from ATS member jkrog: cherish the now.

My prayers will be with you all who feel this loss so terribly. May you find solace in discovering him the way we knew him. May his thoughts, immortalized on the many pages herein, bring you peace and comfort.

TheRedneck



posted on Mar, 11 2010 @ 08:30 PM
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Foremost, my profound condolences to the Family, close Friends, and ATS friends and acquaintances of Justin (a.k.a. jkrog08).

I am new here to ATS in comparison to its inception and unfortunately I am sorry to say that I never had the opportunity or pleasure to be acquainted with Justin or share in his presence here on ATS.

I have been a member of numerous online communities small and large, ranging in various topics. I have been "surfing the internet" for quite sometime. In this time I have been involved in what I had deemed close knit communities. Occasionally people that you knew, or knew of, would sadly pass away. You'd hear the news usually because a fellow member of the community learned of the passing through the grape vine so to speak. There would be a somber mood throughout the community for a spell, with no real closure.

This often troubled me, I thought "I wonder if ' so and so's ' family & friends knew that they had as many on-line friends as they did?" I mean some of the communities were close, but never close enough to have the family be made aware of how that person's presence in the community affected each member as well as how much their online friends grieved the loss.

The person that passed would often be brought up in retrospect, different memories of the good times and such. The way I personally gained closure in my personal experience was knowing that even though the family and people directly related to the person that passed were not aware that they graced a whole community with their presence, could now both carry on the person's memory even if oblivious of one another.

Which brings me to my closing. I did not know Justin, and do not technically "know" any of you yet, but I am completely taken back by this communities closeness to one another when the time calls. I feel honored to be a part of it and perhaps it is what I have been seeking all along in my journey of online communities.

To the Site Owners, Staff, and fellow ATS members. What you have accomplished with this community is astounding. I would like to reiterate the fact that I am honored to be a part of this community and although I have just planted my ATS seed, I am confident that my existence here will grow strong and well rooted. Thank you all for the opportunity!

UberL33t

[edit on 3/11/2010 by UberL33t]



posted on Mar, 11 2010 @ 08:39 PM
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Originally posted by IntastellaBurst


Written like a true poet,

Very kind of you to do what you did SD.

Alot of times people think what happens online, or on forums has no real connection to real life, ... but this whole ordeal has been a testament to this community and how much of a difference one member can make.

It really is heart wrenching. In a beautiful way.

.. and I can only end this with my favorite quote :

death is nothing at all. i have only slipped away into the next room. i am i, and you are you. whatever we were to each other, that we still are. call me by my old familiar name, speak to me in the easy way you always used to. put no difference in your tone, wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together. play, smile, think of me, pray for me. let my name be ever the household word that it always was, let it be spoken without effort, no trace of a shadow on it. life means all that it ever meant. it is the same as it ever was. there is unbroken continuity. why should i be out of mind because i am out of sight? i am waiting for you, somewhere very near. just around the corner. all is well.
-- Henry Scott Holland 1847 - 1918
Canon of St Paul's, London


------------
i really don't think that could have been said any better.



posted on Mar, 11 2010 @ 08:39 PM
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Originally posted by IntastellaBurst


Written like a true poet,

Very kind of you to do what you did SD.

Alot of times people think what happens online, or on forums has no real connection to real life, ... but this whole ordeal has been a testament to this community and how much of a difference one member can make.

It really is heart wrenching. In a beautiful way.

.. and I can only end this with my favorite quote :

death is nothing at all. i have only slipped away into the next room. i am i, and you are you. whatever we were to each other, that we still are. call me by my old familiar name, speak to me in the easy way you always used to. put no difference in your tone, wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together. play, smile, think of me, pray for me. let my name be ever the household word that it always was, let it be spoken without effort, no trace of a shadow on it. life means all that it ever meant. it is the same as it ever was. there is unbroken continuity. why should i be out of mind because i am out of sight? i am waiting for you, somewhere very near. just around the corner. all is well.
-- Henry Scott Holland 1847 - 1918
Canon of St Paul's, London


------------
i really don't think that could have been said any better.



posted on Mar, 11 2010 @ 08:46 PM
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My deepest condolences to Justin's family, friends and the ATS community who knew him much better than I, thank you S'Dog.



posted on Mar, 11 2010 @ 09:09 PM
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I am not sure if Justin's family will come by and read here while they heal from their shocking loss. My romantic side believes they will. Of course, i am familiar with personal type forums where strength of faith and camaraderie is shared, due to a small hometown forum i am a member of. But this is not "normal" for ATS.

But lets go with my romantic notions.


Justin was an astounding bright young man. When i first met him, right after he joined, he spoke of experience that was well in excess of his years. He was aware of facts and detaiils that i was not, which is wierd considering how long i have been at this whole CT thing.

In my "real life", i run business units. I have run 5 star hotels, call centers, and multiunit type structures (regional manager over retail ops). My career is about many things, a major element being that i can spot talent. Talent acquisition and grooming is something I am exceptional at. Justin was a talented person. his intellect made him capable of just about anything he wanted. He comnpassion was in perfect balance with his passion, and he treated others with the dignity and respect that all deserve, but few get.

I am sorry i missed commenting in the book. The funny thing about the internet is that we all can go missing for several days as our "real lives" necessitate. I do hope the family is able to read this at some point. I just wanted to make sure i let them know that there is another person down here in Texas that held their son in the highest regard.

Never in my life have i cried for a person i have never met. It is a first for me, like quite a few others here at ATS.





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