Grief is a personal journey. I know this. Being on the fringe of young Joshua's happy life reminded me. Three years after someone I didn't know lost his life, I still grieve. I still feel his loss as physically as if a rock were lodged in my chest--never knowing when a memory will spill up to the surface. Leaving me hollow. Do all witnesses of tragedy absorb loss and the images into their physical and spiritual beings? I doubt it. Or I hope not. If they did we wouldn't have emergency responders, police and firefighters. Or maybe they've just learned how to sort through and honor their experiences and tragic events and file them away for safe-keeping.
It helps to know he was happy. I know he was because we sat on a couch with his family and watched his happiness flash on a television screen. Dozens and dozens of photos showing him as a toddler with a mischievous smile and on and on until the DVD ended at an image of him with a special friend at temple square taken just two months before his life ended. It was obvious he brought light to his family and friends. You could see that in his face and in the faces of each family member. The pride and joy. The hope.
I was counseled to replace the images of the accident with those of life. Now when I think of Josh, the thing that stood out from every picture of him was his smile, a great big smile. My guess is that he shared that smile with everyone. It helps me to have spent a special day with his family to honor him. It helps to exchange emails and Facebook exchanges, posts, and messages with his oldest sister over the course of many months after her brother's death. Though I haven't met her in person, seeing her joy as a young wife and mother must bring that magical smile to Josh's face now. I have to believe he sees that. His sister told me her brother was her best friend. What an honorable thing to be your sister's best friend. That is a great example to me. Know that this Valentine's Day, I will once again be thinking of Josh Discuillo. Not his death, but his smile.