The Things We Do For Love
I sat down and wrote my daughter's eulogy on June 28, three days after Justice died. Three days after our lives, our family and future changed forever. I hope I made Justice proud as I shared Justice's life and personality with everyone who loved her.
As I stood in front of hundreds of people sharing these words, I remember feeling like an out-of-body experience. I hadn't slept or eaten food in days. The reality of Justice's death still didn't seem possible, but I knew it was true. I remember thinking, I needed to get through this day and then possibly the next day check myself into a mental hospital.
I never went to a hospital or did any drugs for depression or anxiety. I just dug deep and went into survival mode and focused on getting through each day. As I look back, I feel like I survived with grace. I hated when people would tell me how strong I was; I thought at the time, I had no choice. Although I think about the strength it took to get me to this point, I am proud of the person I have become.
On the first anniversary without my baby girl, I have decided to share Justice's eulogy with all of you.
In Memory of Justice D. Hagen
May 25, 2002, to June 25, 2020
I watched a Ted Talk one time that said if you have something important to do, you should stand like Superwoman because this pose will give you strength. So I am standing here like Superwoman because I am about to do the most important thing I ever do in my whole life.
The definition of 'Justice' is to be fair. I would say most of Justice's friends would agree to this; Justice was a very fair person.
When I was pregnant with Justice, I always worried there was something wrong with me. I felt no connection to this big belly of mine. I seriously thought I was going to be the worst mother ever. Then after two days of being in the hospital, in labor, I finally had Justice by c-section…Justice was even stubborn at birth. I felt like I was in the Friends episode where people were coming in to have their baby and leaving with their baby, and Rachel was still pregnant. The same thing happened to Justice and me.
When I was finally able to hold Justice, she rocked my world to the core. I loved her instantly; she brought joy to our family; she was the gift that made life better. Justice helped with the sadness our family had after my dad's death. She was like the gift of happiness.
Justice was a spitfire, sassy, and stubborn. She was a free spirit that we could never control. We tried to embrace that, and we let Justice be Justice. Justice had charisma; she had a way to pull people in; she was the life of the party. Justice had strong beliefs and stood her ground and fought like hell to get her way, which was the most challenging part of being her parent.
When Justice was little, she did something naughty, so I told her she needed to take a time out. I sent her to her room and continued doing my work. Usually, when she would be sent to time out, she would start negotiating right away to get out of her punishment. As time passed, I thought it was strange that Justice hadn't begun negotiating. So I went upstairs to check on her. Justice was not in her bedroom, so I checked the whole house, and I couldn't find her. I started to panic a little, but I decided to call our neighbors Kim and Marvin Dahl. When I called their house and asked if Justice was over there, I could hear Justice giggling in the background. I told them Justice was supposed to be in time out, and they all started giggling and said they would make sure she gets punished by eating more cookies, and they laughed some more.
Justice hated rules and fought them with everything she had.
One day, Justice tried to run away. She packed her suitcase, and I had just had it with her that day, so I said, "Fine, go, maybe you can find another family that isn't so mean!" So away Justice went down the street. Paige and I watched from the windows, and Justice only made it to the end of the block. She was looking over her shoulder the whole time, wondering if I was going to run out after her to stop her. Finally, she had cooled down enough and was no longer mad, so she came home the perfect little girl.
I often said when Justice wakes up, and her feet hit the floor, even the devil is a little scared. You just never knew what she would do next or what attitude she would have. Justice said whatever she was thinking, and sometimes it was downright rude, but she only did this with the people in her close circle.
When Darren and I went to Justice's first Parent-Teacher Conference, we were a little nervous. And, to our surprise, the teachers always praised her. They loved her. Justice had this way with adults and teachers. She was no dummy; she knew that class would be so much easier if she could make them her best friend. Although, I truly think Justice cared about them and enjoyed their attention too.
I think Justice spent all of her time trying to be so good and friendly around so many people during the day that when she got home, she had used up all of her good. She had nothing left to share with her family, so her sassiness would usually come out around family. When Justice would get mad, she would blow up. I have never seen a person with so much fury. Then two minutes later, she was just fine. It's like she just needed to get it off her chest.
When Justice was little, she went missing, and we were looking all over for her. I was just about ready to call the police when our neighbors Kim and Marvin pulled up. I told them Justice was missing, and I was scared. They told me they would put their groceries in the house and be right out to help find her. About 30 seconds later, they came outside to let me know that Justice was in their basement watching TV. I was so relieved. I asked Justice why she didn't answer the door when I knocked, and Justice looked at me like I was crazy and said, "It's not my house; why would I answer their door!"
As Justice continued to age, her personality continued to grow. I always had a Justice story. I seriously thought I was raising the most amazing person in the whole world. The way she looked at life and the way she made people laugh was beautiful. I loved being her mom. Darren and Justice also had the sweetest father-daughter bond. I always felt like Darren and I were the luckiest parents in the world to have kids with the best personalities.
Though, Justice's life was not always perfect. She had anxiety and dealt with depression from time to time. She also had a disease called Endometriosis that made her terribly sick. She had surgeries, took medicine, and nothing ever worked. She missed lots and lots of school; she probably had the record for the most missed school days ever. She spent many days in bed, and she threw up all of the time. It was hard to watch, and we had no answers and no cure.
Justice and I talked about death a lot. I always wanted my kids to be comfortable with death. We knew Justice's wishes, and we knew she wanted to be an organ donor or have her body donated to science. We are hoping they can take her beautiful body, and something amazing will come from her death. If Justice can help cure Endometriosis, it will change this world for so many women. I pray this is one reason Justice was taken from this earth so early because she had a much bigger purpose than we can even imagine. Justice always wanted to give.
For years, Justice wanted to be a trauma surgeon. For some reason, she changed her mind this last year. Recently told me she wanted to become an attorney and make the government better; actually, she told me she would fight the government. Justice was such a fighter for women's rights. She loved the "Me Too Movement" and how it was such a huge step for women to become equal.
Justice also wanted to save every single animal that needs a home. The Saturday before she died, she woke up determined to save a dog that she heard would be put to sleep. She took my credit card, and off she went to save the dog, and that is exactly what she did.
Justice also had so much compassion for the Black Lives Matter Movement. She wanted people to be more compassionate and truly have empathy for the BLM movement. Justice wanted people to just put themselves in their shoes. She loved people; if they were friendly to her, she had a friend for life.
She always wanted people to be good to people. Everybody has something negative about them, but she tried to look for the good in everybody. It just made the world a much better place to live. So I am starting a movement, thanks to Justice's other mother, Amy Lighter, and the movement is to Love Like Justice.
Justice loved so many things. Justice loved every color in the rainbow; she couldn't pick just one favorite color. Justice loved her sister Paige, her brother Cruz and her nephew Grayson. She loved driving around with friends listening to loud music, thanks to her father for making sure she always had a good stereo. Justice loved dancing, as you can see from all of the videos. Justice loved to swim, she started to swim around the time she learned to walk, and she was a great swimmer. She dreamed of being a mermaid when she was a little girl. Justice loved going to the lake and tubing, boating, playing in the sand, or jet skiing. Justice loved to go fast. Lesa Schock told me they would do a thumbs up for fast and a thumbs down for slow. Justice would always have her thumb up, and Sydney would have her thumb down. Justice thought going fast was the best, and this is how she lived her life. Justice also loved comfy clothes. She would usually choose comfort before style and said it was so she could dance all night.
From the day we are born, I don't know if the date of death is already determined, but the last couple of weeks with Justice were special. She changed a little; she spent more time with us. She gave us unforgettable last memories. She worked a couple of weeks at the daycare again and loved every minute of it. Justice and I went for a drive together and talked for hours. She went on a long hike with friends. Justice reached out to friends she hadn't talked to in a while. She stayed home and watched a movie with us, and we just cuddled. She was able to have a fantastic day with Paige and Grayson. She spent Sunday with Dalton, and they had the perfect date; she was so happy. The day Justice died, Justice and her dad took the top off the Jeep, and he was able to watch her drive off with her friends, looking like the happiest girl in the world.
The last couple of weeks, there was also this crazy thing that kept happening to me. I kept seeing the number 11. It was always 11 past the hour. I would annoy Justice and send her texts when I would look at my phone, and it would be 5:11, 2:11, etc.
I told Glenna about this, and she told me to look it up. Eleven is an angel number. The day Justice died, I saw this number everywhere, my microwave, the dryer. At exactly 11:00 pm, Justice walked out the front door for the very last time. That night when I got into my car to go look for Justice, it was 2:11 am. The next day when the organ donor company called for the first time and left a message, it was at 1:11. I could go on and on. I don't know exactly what this means, but 11 is now Justice's number, and when you see it, please think of my angel. We also found out days after Justice passed away that the Justice Tarot card is card number 11; this gave us chills.
I wanted to share my last memory of Justice with you because I love everything about it. Justice came into my office. She walked in full of confidence, wearing a bikini with jean shorts, her hair was braided, and she was wearing Cruz's John Lennon glasses. I just kept looking at her with amazement; she was so cute, full of life and happiness. I asked her if her swimsuit bottoms fit, and she said no. She said she bought the biggest ones, but they still fit like a thong. She was so proud of her big butt, saying if she were a stripper, she would make a million dollars with that thing. We had so many giggles that day, and it is a beautiful memory and one that I will cherish forever. I wish I would have realized that it would be the last time I would see her, but seeing her that happy and full of life was priceless.
I share all of this with you because I want all of you to know my beautiful Justice. She was such an amazing person for this world. I feel like she impacted so many people's lives, and I want that to continue. So please remember to;
Love Like Justice
Be Good to People and Animals
Be Real; Justice was so Real!
Love Your Body
Justice had so much fun; she loved life so much and had a way to make things hilarious. I loved when she walked into the room; the confidence she had was a beautiful thing.
So please fight for what you believe in, and Please Never Forget Our Justice!!!
I love you, baby girl, with all of my heart, and I am so proud of you,