We drove home from Durban on Thursday and I told Shannon that I didn’t like to think of Josh Resting in Peace. His reply to me was – of course he isn’t resting in peace. He is at the front. Causing trouble.
He taught us all so much about living and grace and optimism and courage but I think Josh would want me to tell you about the boy in the green tights.
When Josh was about ten his Granny made him a Halloween costume that included a pair of women’s forest green footless dance tights. After wearing the costume Josh decided that footless dance tights were, in fact, extremely comfortable. Everyday he’d come home from school and slip into them before carrying with his day. Despite all advice to contrary, Josh wore those tights until the day they wore out.
The thing is Josh LIKED the tights. He thought they were comfortable. The dark colour was practical and, I suspect, he liked the idea of being invisible when he climbed trees. He didn’t especially care if you didn’t like footless tights but he did so he wore them.
He didn’t need you to wear tights too but he wasn’t ever going to stop wearing them to make you think he was cool or to try and fit in. It didn’t occur to him to try and be cool. I suspect that made him tremendously cool – but I will admit to being biased in this regard.
It was theme that ran through his life – he liked what he liked, comics, PC games, school, talking about his pets, debating atheism. And he didn’t spend much time thinking about whether anyone thought those things were cool too. And whilst the rest of us were wasting time thinking about what everyone thought of our idea Josh would already be off DOING it.
He achieved so much in his short life, mostly because he followed his passions whole heartedly. He consumed life with a hunger that I have never known before.
He had no time for the “special snowflakes” – those timid souls who identify themselves as victims and who demand special treatment for their sad circumstances. Even in this last year, it annoyed him tremendously to be “the kid with cancer”. He would much rather you remember him as the kid who was clever, or not very good at swimming, but tremendously keen or the boy who felt nothing to plonk himself down in the principle’s office to pitch audacious ideas of his grand plans for a polymath club.
Even in the last week of his life, he spent the time planning the things he would do when he was better. He dreamt about he and Prashanth would be the first Crawford kids to be accepted to MIT. He plotted using surviving cancer to improve his chances of getting a scholarship.
He told me again and again in this last year that he did not regret getting cancer. Josh believed he had learnt so much about people and himself and life that he couldn’t regret the experience.
Josh didn’t plan for what we should say here today but he did want his life to mean something. Here are some of the lessons I think he would want you to know:
- Be the boy in the green tights. Spend less time thinking about what everyone thinks and more time getting on with the things you enjoy.
- And DO get on with it. It drove Josh crazy to see kids who could do something and didn’t when he wanted passionately to be out of bed and getting on with things.
- Follow your interests passionately. Learn whole-heartedly.
- Whatever your dreams make them bigger, more audacious and don’t let anyone EVER tell you, you wont get there.
- Don’t be a special snowflake. Even when you lose, find a way to declare yourself a winner.
- Always wear comfortable clothes.