Justin was love at first sight; the moment I laid eyes on him, I knew from the bottom of my heart that I could never let anything happen to this child. He was mine to love and cherish. The burst of love emanating out of my being was indescribable. It is an emotion that only you can feel but can’t express, and only if you’ve experienced it, could you understand it.
As a two-year old, Justin was extraordinary. I know, it is cliché to say that because he is my son, but you know what a beautiful and smart child is what you see one. He was that beautiful, smart kid who could charm you even then. He was full of questions as any kid his age, but what made him remarkable is that he could communicate with his grandparents in their native language. He would then speak Hmonglish to us, and say words that only an old soul from the old country would know. Those words were relayed to his grandparents who confirm their origin and correctness. Justin also had full conversations with adults, and most surprisingly was when you saw him walking with Joe, a family friend, in his 30’s. Remember, Justin was 2 years old, walking with this gentle giant that is Joe, standing at 6’3, conversing back and forth.
Even then, you knew Justin would be an animal lover. He had his goats, and chickens, and was unafraid to play with them. The dogs were no different. He would hug them, play with them, until his heart’s content and no one would be the wiser that some of these animals did not know him.
Unfortunately, I must say that I did not have the opportunity to see him grow up into a tween and later a teenager, during his mohawk hair or Bieber hair phase. But my memories of us are just as vivid, when I was home during my school break, every 3-4 months or so, throughout the years he lived with his father in California. That is my greatest regret, that I missed all those years, while I was pursuing a better future in medicine, and the hope was to return to my children a better person.
Justin was a Mama’s boy. He proved that when he tattooed my name on his chest. He was reprimanded for doing it, but deep inside me, I was proud to be his mother, and that he had that much love for me.
He remained committed to his dogs, specifically Diamond, his Jack Russell, whom he had for 13 years. If you thought only in Disney movies would you see a dog wait for his lifelong friend, then you were in for a treat. I only heard that Diamond would wait for him at the school bus stop, every day after school. It was only a few houses down the street from their home, but she would be there, waiting. I did witness that when I would drop Justin off, or pick him up, Diamond was always there at the gate and mostly outside the gate waiting, with her tail wagging. He took his love of dog further by training them.
I did not get to see him train his dogs, so I am grateful for YouTube, phone videos from family and friends, and pictures of him working with his dog, showing his magic. When you train a dog and the dog does not wag its tail, it is not a happy dog, regardless of how strenuous the training is. As I go through the videos of Justin training dog, I see a kid playing with his friend, and the friend responds in kind, happy, tail wagging. That is how I know his dogs love him, whether he is playing with them or training them. For his dogs, it is all the same, training is playin