Please use this blog to help us remember Joshua Lee Anderson, who made the tragic and fatal decision to take his life on Wednesday, March 18, 2009. Please post any memories or thoughts you may have in the comments.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Story from an older sister of one of Josh's friends

This story touched our whole family. With her permission, I have posted it on the blog.

Hi Mrs Anderson (& the rest of the Anderson crew),
I have never officially met you, but you know my brother Artie - I'm his oldest sister, Alexa. I've wanted to write to you for a while, but always thought it was kind of weird since you don't know me, but through your blog I don't think that bothers you very much. I wanted to share my brief memories of Josh with you, as he always held a very special place with me among my brother's friends...

It's a rather bizarre story about how I was able to immediately bring up your son's name when I thought of Artie's gang. When I was a freshman in high school, my best friends (Mary and Alison) went to Stone Ridge in Bethesda, while I went to O'Connell in Arlington. We only ever saw each other on weekends and during the summer. Just before our sophomore year started, we all went to Kings Dominion for the day. When we were in line for the bumper cars, we noticed this REALLY cute guy ahead of us. Through a series of frantic whispers, we decided that we must take secret pictures of him. I think he noticed (we were probably not the very covert), and he turned to give us a weird look. I boldly asked if he would take a picture with the three of us. Shockingly, he agreed.

The picture came out great - he had a beautiful smile and his arm around my waist (plus the three of us looked good). We decided to make up a story and history of this kid, based on this one picture. Since I didn't go to their school, not many of their classmates knew much about me. We then decided that he should be my boyfriend. Obviously, we needed to make it convincing, so we developed a whole backstory, starting with a name. I christened him "Josh Anderson," after my favorite actor (Josh Hartnett) and another friend of mine (Jackie Anderson). It seemed like a totally believable story. We even made up a screenname on AIM ("JAnder527") and a birthday (May 27, 1986). This ploy went on for a few months, and I think the people we told still believe he is a real person.

So you can imagine my surprise when, during my second year at UVA, I saw a real kid named Josh Anderson on Artie's football roster. I had come up to watch a game (their freshman year at Langley), and I was looking to see who I knew on the list. I excitedly exclaimed, "oh my gosh, is there seriously a kid named 'Josh Anderson' on this team?!?!" My parents just looked at me and nodded, not understanding my excitement. They mentioned that he was a friend of Artie's, and did not seem to appreciate the hilarity of finding out that a person who had been completely made up suddenly materialized and turned out to be real - even down to the nicknames!
A few months later, over Christmas break I think, I had the pleasure of meeting your son. I immediately told him the story of how I had dreamed up another Josh Anderson years earlier. Artie cut me off three-quarters of the way through the story because "Josh doesn't care," but Josh laughed all the same.

After that I ran into him at other times whenever I was home - picking up/dropping of people, gatherings at my house, sports events at Langley, etc. I think I may have even talked to you on the phone when you called to see if he was at our house (which I loved, because it showed me that it wasn't only my parents who called to check in). Even when he was with a big, loud group of other guys, he always stood out to me. Initially, this was because I was so thrilled to have found a flesh-and-blood Josh Anderson, but as I was around them more often, I noticed that he just had a strong, silent presence. He didn't have to be the most boisterous to get attention. But when he smiled (that classic smirk everyone mentions), you could see how it drew everyone in, and when he said something, they all listened (and laughed, loudly).

When I heard the awful news in March, I felt crushed. I actually came home to be with my brother, who was devastated. I will never forget how lost he (and his friends) looked that weekend. I cannot even imagine what your family went (and continues to go) through. As an older sister, I felt utter shock, grief, and disbelief for your other children especially. Through these past months, your blog has helped us all deal with this tragedy. I hope this random little story helps add another facet to Josh's life for you. He won me over when he didn't scoff at the story of the first Josh Anderson in my life, and I will never forget him.

Please give your daughter my congrats for her graduation from the Comm School. My thoughts and prayers are still with your family. Thank you for all that you have provided through your blog - it means a lot to a great deal of people.


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