Justine’s Passions

My daughter was the most passionate person I know and I’m sure her friends and relatives would agree. If she felt strongly about a topic, she voiced it no matter who else might disagree. She was a vegetarian and that was one of her passions. You can read more about that here. She did not care if others ate meat but she stood by her own convictions. 

 She was raised Catholic, attended Catholic schools, was an alter server and went to youth groups at the church but she would not be afraid to tell anyone her opinions on why she didn’t believe in organized religion. She would even say that out loud in front of her devoutly Catholic grandmother, something not too many people were brave enough to do. 

Justine stood up for the homeless and mentally ill. She was not shy about talking to street people and working with them. She volunteered at shelters and soup kitchens so she could spend time with people who needed a sympathetic ear. She understood that not everyone comes from supportive families and has medical coverage for medications. Often people just make mistakes and can’t overcome them. It snowballs and they find themselves homeless or addicted.

She worked from a very young age and had a strong work ethic. She always had one, two or even three jobs that she juggled. Even when she was hired full time she still served in a restaurant on the weekends. One time she decided to quit her weekend job. She called me up on Saturday to ask me a question. She said,

“Mom, what do people do on the weekend?” She was bored and went back the next week to get her job back.

She loved her friends and was very loyal. She kept many friends from childhood. She could be counted on for babysitting too. She often hosted “shed parties” where her guests could come over and hang out in her heated shed. She and many of her friends smoked so in winter that’s where they had company. In the summer they sat around the pool. 

No topic was off limits for a good debate when you were with Justine. She didn’t care if she shocked or provoked, as long as she was able to stand up for her principles and speak her mind. We all miss our conversations that we had with her. I wonder if she and her Nana are still sticking to their beliefs wherever they are. I like to think of all my loved ones who have crossed over at a resort somewhere tropical having an extended vacation.

20 thoughts on “Justine’s Passions

  1. Cathy–I just read a post from ‘Book People’ about a new book called “Furiously Happy”. It sounds like Justine would have been a furiously happy person and one who shone a little light where light needs to shine! Here’s a link–the video promo made me cry–but I’m a sap as well as the mom of a young adult with mental illness. You bring your daughter to vivid life with this post!


    Hope your weekend is nice!


    Liked by 2 people

  2. As a person with bipolar, the child of a suicide, and a family history of suicide, depression and bipolar disorder, I my heart and soul goes out to you–the people who have to go on with their lives after their loved one dies–whether or not that death is directly connected to their mental illness. I’m so glad you’re telling Justine’s story so I can see what kind of human being she was and how difficult it was for her, you, and the rest of your family to find a mental health professional who gets it. I’ve been on scores of meds, and have had amazing and horrible medical support people, but I still go on. I’ve learned that meds are not the whole story for me, although me and some members of my family have to be on meds for the rest of our lives because there’s a strong physiological component to bioplar. I meditate, I’m in therapy (for PTSD as well as mental health stuff) I do yoga, I’ve years of DBT and other skills groups, I’ve gone to support groups. I’ve added things to my tool belt over the years to deal with the roller coaster ride that sometimes happens no matter what I do. It sucks to have this. I didn’t ask for it. But my choices are limited, and although I’ve tried to go the way of my father, I’ve seen what it does to the survivors. I still have a lot of shame about my mental illness even after doing all this personal and recovery work. I’m just trying to do the best I can as we all are. Thank you and R.I.P. Justine, who lives on in your words, your heart, and in everyone who is touched by reading your story.


  3. Thanks so much for this lovely note. The one huge outcome of this is how many people are affected by mental illness. It’s astounding. Every single day someone tells me either they or a family member has one or more disorders. I even found out my cousin has bipolar so I do understand the genetic component. I come from a long line of alcoholics so I suspect many of my ancestors were undiagnosed and self-medicating. Good luck! There’s no more shame in having mental illness than if you had cancer. Remember it’s a disease, like any other. We need to stamp out the stigma.


  4. I loved your writing about your daughter. My oldest is very similar. Ups and downs with extreme life challenges. She would give her last dollar to help you. She is very vocal about what she believed. Keep writing.

    Liked by 1 person

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