I knew Josh for several years. His mom and my mom are to this day best friends. He was a simple, fun character. My fondest memory of Josh is when the middle sschool bus would drop us off and we would talk as we walked up the treacherous hill to our homes and then when it came time to part down different roads, he would get out his trumpet and blast his own welcome home melody.
"When King Lear dies in Act V, do you know what Shakespeare has written? He's written "He dies." That's all, nothing more. No fanfare, no metaphor, no brilliant final words. The culmination of the most influential work of dramatic literature is "He dies." It takes Shakespeare, a genius, to come up with "He dies." And yet every time I read those two words, I find myself overwhelmed with dysphoria. And I know it's only natural to be sad, but not because of the words "He dies." but because of the life we saw prior to the words.My mom and I drove from Utah to Washington to be with the Wards after the funeral had passed and the overwhelming support has begun to fade. They had us stay in Josh's room. His walls were littered with printer paper decorated with doodles and scribbled writting. One day, when I was home alone while my mom and his mom went out to lunch, I looked through the papers and turned some of them over. They were filled with incredibly deep quotes. I'm unsure how many of the quotes where his own thoughts or thoughts he borrowed from others, but this level of thought for a 16 year old boy was pretty astonishing.
... I am not asking you to be happy that I must go. I'm only asking that you turn the page, continue reading... and let the next story begin. And if anyone asks what became of me, you relate my life in all its wonder, and end it with a simple and modest "He died." "
One of my favorite quotes was written on a paper with a simple sketched doodle of butterfly with paths in the background. No colors, no extra fanfare, just a simple teenage boy style sketch and a scribbled quote (with even a minor mispelling) that said:
Every little choice makes a difference. You can allow the positive little things, the butterflies, change your world for the better. You can be that butterfly in someones life. A butterfly that will change the world. The butterfly may never know how much of a difference it makes, but that doesn't change the fact that it did make a difference."Make every decision with thoughtYou don't know what tangent pathIt'll throw you onThe butterfly (will) effect your world"
Josh was that butterfly for thousands of people.
His family kept his facebook up after he died and years after the accident, people still post on his wall with sentiments of gratitude for the positive difference his example, his attiude, his friendship and even his silly laugh made in their lives. He certainly made a difference in mine. He died. But his spirit and influence didn't.