Joshua Carreon was the first child of two hippies named Tara and
Charles. He was born in an Arizona hospital on July 8th, 30 years ago.
I wasn't even a twinkle in my mother's eye back then, but I think of
the story of Josh's birth often. I guess we all do. I wonder what he
thought about it. It was a struggle for Josh from the first breath.
That first breath passed through his lungs with a great effort, as
did the next. He had fluid in his lungs. He had been on a big adventure
already. Mommy and daddy had traveled the globe as little Josh curled
tightly inside Tara's tummy. They'd been to Pakistan, India, and other
distant lands. As he struggled for his first breath, did it cross his
mind that it could be the last? Did Josh always have a sense of his
own mortality, from day one? Perhaps. Certainly he was more aware than
Joshua survived his first trial, and grew up handsome and talented.
He had a sense of humor that provoked irrepressible laughter at the
dinner table. He knew all the "yo mama" jokes and I remember trying
to repeat them and not having much success. But he had a comic spirit.
He brought joy to the lives of others, as he held his own sorrows inside.
We used to joke about Josh not wanting hugs, not wanting affection.
But I don't remember the days when Josh was in a wheelchair, or later
when he struggled to walk. I was still living in my own dreamland.
All I knew was that the pesticides they sprayed in our house in Santa
Monica had made my legs ache, but that Josh was hurting much, much
worse. Somewhere inside I regretted not sharing his pain, and not being
able to understand. As his little sister, I always saw Josh's stronger
side. Now I know that I brought him joy, just as he filled me with
a sense of wonder and delight.
When Josh was little, Tara and Charles were pretty poor. They didn't
have money for a lot of toys or visits to the park. But they lived
in the Colestine valley in Oregon and experienced the beauty of the
outdoors. When I was born, Mom, Dad, and the three children packed
up and moved to Los Angeles. "Is this really where we are going to
live?" asked Josh. We did live there, for 11 years. There in
Santa Monica Josh was introduced to "tagging" and graffiti art. He
had an amazing skill with lines and color. He and Maria went to "SAMO
High" where gangs and celebritiy children mixed together, creating
a threatening environment of aggression. How Josh fared under these
circumstances, only he could really tell. I always considered him a
success, since he had girlfriends and rich buddies galore. Some of
Josh's pastimes were skateboarding and collecting nozzles for spraypainting.
Occasionally he babysat his little sister and we listened to Guns 'n
Roses together. He was good at rigging the television so we could watch
it while the parents were at work. We reveled in this little act of
defiance, as we watched "I Love Lucy" and "Gilligan's Island." Supposedly
it was the commercials that really rotted your brain, but it was all
good to us.
When mom and dad decided rather suddenly that we were moving to Oregon
and leaving Santa Monica for good, I was filled with a naive excitement.
My life was not very stimulating and I was eager for a change. Sure,
I'd miss my friends (more than I knew) but I didn't have a whole lot
to leave behind. On the other hand, Maria and Josh had a lot more to
lose. Nonetheless, they adapted quickly to Southern Oregon. Josh soon
had the whole town wearing baggy pants around their hips, and Maria
was setting the party scene on fire. No one knew me by name, but rather
I was known as "Josh and Maria's sister." And I was fine with that.
I was very proud of them.
For a period of time we all lived together in our yurts in the Colestine
valley. But Maria and Josh were already grown up and getting into trouble
on their own. Josh was an artist at heart, but wasn't sure if he could
make a career out of it. After a short time at an art school in Georgia,
Josh returned home to Ashland. Southern Oregon has a gentleness that
nurtured Josh. Toxicity and pollution were never good for him,
and the South is renowned for high levels of asthma and air pollution.
Of course we were glad to have him back. I guess school wasn't the
place for him, so Josh started cutting his own trails. Sometimes they
didn't lead anywhere, but I truly believe he was cherishing every minute.
He knew life wasn't something to waste. Everywhere he went, he took
time to appreciate detail and complexity in the smallest things. This
unique interest in the minutiae of life is revealed in Josh's art and
When I take the time to appreciate what Josh has left behind, his
legacy, I feel as if I am just getting to know him. The realization
that he was such a truly beautiful person, an artistic creation of
the universe, fills me with a longing that I cannot describe. The
last years of Josh's life were rich with pleasure and pain. At times
he seemed to be walking under a shadow. Other times he was filled
with radiance and light. It may have been a battle for him in life,
but he truly transcended in death. Mirroring Josh's artwork filled
with images of wings and birds, Josh's soul sprouted wings on February
15th, 2007. Like a true saint, he hasn't truly left his loved ones,
but waits to greet us at the gates to another world, a world where
beauty and purity reigns supreme.
At 30 years old, Josh's life reached its conclusion. And so begins
another journey...for us all.
~ Ana Carreon, June 2, 2007