The funeral is Saturday. I didn't know Justin Whitaker personally, or if I did, he was one of the many nameless friendly faces in the halls of the high school where I coach. Justin's reputation however has taken on a life of itself over the past two years. He had cancer. Justin was a bright young athlete, a friend to many and an inspiration to all who knew him or even knew about him.
He lost his battle with cancer last week at the age of 18 and the green ribbons the students wore to remember him have been prominent around school. The students have lost one of their own, but they have come together to remember him and support those closest to him. Some days have been more difficult than others since his death. His long-time girlfriend watched prom invitations get handed out knowing that the dress she had already bought would not be seen by Justin. This young woman and so many others at school have shown such strength and courage that it's difficult not to admire them.
Today I walked the halls of the school to see many wearing Virginia Tech t-shirts, some with green ribbons pinned to them. Today is the first anniversary of the Virginia Tech shooting, a day that is close to all of us here in Virginia. As my heart aches for those who have lost loved ones, I find myself drawing on those emotions as I prepare to start writing yet another book. I don't know what will come when I sit down at my computer. I only know that these everyday heros will continue to feed my characters' emotions and refuel my well of ideas. I can only hope that those who inspire me will all find their happily ever after.