In Memory of Justin Hocker
By: Judy Hope,
August 6, 2007
Justin was killed June 25, 2006. That day forever darkened the doorway of the
hearts of this family, who continue to love him, remember him and visit his grave to be close to him at his final resting
place in this world.
I am his grandmother, Judy Hope.
I watched Justin grow from a boy to a man and I saw all the wonderful things a grandmother would; performances at school,
his antics at family gatherings, and the way he loved to wrestle with his dad. He spent time with his grandfather and me,
and we have good memories that are cherished. As he got older, he learned to love sports, and especially cars. He had bright
eyes and a wonderful smile that accompanied him each day until his days were no more.
I watched him fall in love much too young, but only knew I had done the same thing. I thought
God would hold his life as he has mine, and that Justin would someday be celebrating decades of anniversaries; days he did
not live to see. The up and down road of life did to Justin as it does to most. At the end of the day what really counts is
how you handle the down time. He was handling it well. The promise for his future was good until the moment he was killed.
June 25, 2006 to June 25, 2007 was a year of firsts
without Justin for this family. There has not been a day that his absence wasn't present. Before the date of his 25th
birthday, or any family gatherings and holidays, we all knew it would be the first without him. Things that are given to celebration
have become a time to find a way to get through. For the rest of my years I will experience seconds and thirds, fourths, fifths
and on and on and on, because Justin is forever gone and the years will continue to pass. His loss will be to me forever yesterday,
and I will always yearn to see his beautiful face with the smile God made just for him.
The grief this family has experienced is more than I can bear to visit. A mother should not have to watch
her children bury their children. It is an unending pain with no consolation. It is a toll of the heart that will never have
Justin didn't deserve to die, but
he was killed and brutally taken from us. That will forever be the permanent consequence my family endures. We will never
see him again in this life, but he will not be forgotten as we cherish him, his memory and his place in our family and our
The day Justin took those bullets was the same day my faith was
tested more than ever in my life, but I stand strong today. I want justice for Justin because it is right and it is all we
have left to give him. Justin was taken from us suddenly. It was a brutal act that has no reason. I want to understand why
this was done, but I fear even God cannot give me that answer.