His parents gave him a virtue name, Justice. When Justice was a baby he was diagnosed with lymphoma. There are pictures of him as a less than two year-old, bald round head, undergoing chemotherapy, methatrexate. He’s now ten and a vigorous kid. When he’s in a good mood he can be very funny. Once early on he asked me to get him a gun so he could shoot himself, a glimpse of what he and his parents have been through already in his short life. You can see a short video of his heartwarming story here.
His friends Natalie and Noelle co-produced the brilliant “The Evil Witch on the Second Floor”. In one scene, in the Evil Witch’s classroom, a flight of hidden stairs in a closet leads to her secret torture chamber. Another flight takes us to the death chamber below, the chamber of doom where the Evil Witch shackles her victims as they lay dying. The faces of the Evil Witch’s other victims are crossed off in their framed pictures on the wall.
Two of the witch’s slaves carry the coffin of a newly dead kid, it says “R.I.P. Justice” on the side. They toss the casket into a chute marked toxic. I didn’t notice Justice’s name on the coffin when I passed by when they were shooting it. I was disturbed by it when I edited the animation that night.
When the group sees the finished footage a week later, Justice’s best friend shouts out “Justice is dead!” as the coffin is trotted across the screen. “Yeah,” I say “what does Justice think of that?” and Noelle immediately yells out “he liked it!”
And Justice, who has a raspy voice for a small ten year-old, when I ask “Do you like having your name on a coffin saying R.I.P.?” says “yeah, I like it. The Evil Witch can rot in hell.” I understood later that maybe these young friends were celebrating a peer’s survival, giving the finger to Death in the most direct way they knew how.
Meanwhile, in an expensive home in the suburbs of Boston my old friend may already have gone over the precipice, falling into the pit of relentless cancer. Nothing anyone can do for him now, but call him again tomorrow on the land line, in case he feels like picking up.
Justice is alive, an inspiration to the rest of us, and a reminder– spend your life well.