Freeing Joshua

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Chapter 9: The Aftermath

It took a while for me to completely pull myself out of the mourning phase of it all. After Joshua’s passing, I wasn’t quite sure where to go from there. It was as if my entire life was in shambles right in front of me since he had always been and will always be my past, present, and future. Now, almost two years later, I have found the strength I needed to both finish telling his story…our story, and get it published. I wasn’t sure at first whether or not I truly wanted anyone else to know the horrid and intimate details of our whole debacle, but I decided it was best to draw attention to such an injustice like being held for a crime you did not commit. I know there are many other victims of this, just as Joshua was. And I’m sure there will be so many more. I can only hope more innocent lives will not be lost due to false accusations and false imprisonment.

After the funeral, I somewhat fell off the face of the Earth. I didn’t even bother to check in on Justin, but recently we’ve reconnected and for this tale’s sake I believe it’s only right to update readers on each of our lives after Joshua. Justin and Paige are still happily married and have baby number three on the way. It’s a boy and they plan to name him Joshua. His other two children, Lucas and Delilah are very excited about their new baby brother. Once a month Justin, Paige, and I go to visit Joshua’s grave and place flowers and letters by his tombstone. Occasionally, they’ll bring the kids, but usually it’s just the three of us. Justin is still struggling hard with the loss of his brother, some days he’ll be okay and others he’ll hardly get out of bed. Paige and his children really help him cope, but there will always be days that are entirely too difficult for him to deal with, especially when either his or Joshua’s birthday roll around. On those days, I make sure to visit him as well as on the anniversary of Joshua’s death. He still hasn’t bothered to get in touch with his parents, and they never reach out to him either. He found out through another relative that his father had suffered a heart attack not too long ago and died. He didn’t even bother attending the funeral nor did I see him shed a single tear. He quoted his father when he heard the news, his only response was, “Tragedy.” And that was that. His children do not know their grandparents and they’ve never asked. They only spend time with Paige’s parents and that’s enough for them.

I, on the other hand, make sure to visit my parents every other week mainly because they’re dealing with the loss of Joshua as well. Our relationship has strengthened especially since I stayed with them off and on after Joshua’s funeral. They were tremendously sympathetic towards me because of the whole proposal-that-never-happened thing. But they try not to bring it up. I still wear the ring he left me, but now as necklace as a symbol of my love for him and to show that I’ll never forget him. After all, the first love never seems to really fade. I have moved on relationship-wise though. After spending quite a bit of time with Dexter over these last couple of years, we decided to make it official. We discovered that we click well even considering our weird first encounter. He has met my parents and they love him. I think they’re just happy that I’m finally happy again. It’s hard for a person to lose their significant other, especially to something as tragic as suicide. Occasionally Dexter and I will double date with Paige and Justin. If they can’t find a sitter we opt to just spend the day at their house to compensate. I adore their children especially since they refer to me as “Auntie Katie.” This is our family.

A few nights ago, while we were out on a double date with them, Dexter got down on one knee to propose to me and I said yes. Within the same night, we also found out that I am pregnant, which really motivated me to hunker down and finish this story because I’m embarking on a new chapter of my life. It is time to close this book and start a new one, although this is one I could never forget. This will always be my favorite story even if the ending wasn’t so happy. Rest in peace Joshua Russell Norte, your story will never be forgotten. You will never be forgotten.

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