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Remembering Joel

I miss my friend.

I got a sad call this Saturday morning.  I got a call from a classmate saying my friend, Joel, was dead.

It’s been a surreal couple of days.

Joel and I had every class together during our first semester of law school.  We sat next to each other or near eachother in almost every class.  He was the friend I would high five at the beginning of Professor Noreuil’s legal writing class.  We agreed Professor Berch was insane, but only Joel thought that was a good thing.

During finals week last fall, we both had the idea of wearing black under our eyes like football players because we were going to attack our exams.  After one test, we high fived and said, “Good game.”  I’m sure it looked strange to everyone around us, but to us, it made perfect sense.

Joel was from Alabama.  He always made sure I knew how his football team performed every week and where they were ranked.  This year he invited me and a few others to watch Alabama face Texas in the BCS National Championship Game.  He was so mad when he caught me making the Longhorn symbol with my fingers.  It was almost sacrilegious to have someone rooting against his team in his home.

Joel always got a twinkle in his eye when he talked about his beloved wife, Stephanie.  I remember the day I met her.  He was so proud to introduce me to the love of his life.  Joel also had two beautiful children.  His daughter was born during our first semester finals.  By then we had become good friends, so I crocheted a baby blanket for her.  Joel must have told me at least 15 times that she can’t sleep without it.  With Joel, if he considered you a friend, you were as good as family.

It’s still settling in that my friend is gone.  I didn’t see him much this semester because we didn’t have any classes together and we were busy with internships and projects.  He wanted to go into family law and my heart is in intellectual property.  Every few hours, the grief hits me like a wave and I remember, “My friend is dead.”  I hope the school does some type of memorial or tribute to him.  I hope his wife and family have the support they need, for as long as they need it.  I know when the rest of us are back to our normal routines, they will still be feeling the stabbing pain of losing him.

I’ve been thinking about the song “Seasons of Love” from “Rent:”

525,600 minutes, 525,000 moments so dear.
525,600 minutes – how do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee.
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.
In 525,600 minutes – how do you measure a year in the life?

Joel – I hope  you accomplished everything you came here to do.

I miss my friend.

Photo from ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law


  1. I am so sorry, Ruth! We never know how much time we get, which is why it is so important to make the most out of all of it.

  2. Jeni Christopher says:


    You said everything I would want to tell the world about him. I feel the same way. I too have not seen him much this year because our class choices were different. But I spent the better part of the weekend telling stories to my family and friends about Joel, and how he always lit up the room when he came in, and even when he and I would argue about football or anything…at the end we would always laugh and realize how great it is to get riled up together and be passionate people in life. Its so weird because during the college football playoffs I was talking about Joel and Alabama all the time when I watched the games with Josh. And when I told him about what happened this past Saturday, Josh remembered who he was and what I used to say. So Joel even touched people’s lives that he never met. He truly was a good soul. I hope he is at peace.

  3. Shannon Mataele says:

    What a touching tribute. Thanks, Ruth. I cannot believe he is gone. Joel was a great friend and a bright spot in the sometimes dreary world of law school. He was such a unique and wonderful person. I will miss him so much. He and I had been emailing the weeks before his death about getting our families together and then his emails just stopped. I emailed him early last week to find out what was up and didn’t get a response. I wonder what was going on and what happened to him. I will miss his friendship.