Justin Shilling's mom describes him as a giver, says he lifted up others

Posted at 3:23 PM, Nov 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-01 06:39:26-05

It's been one year since the horrific shooting at Oxford High School that took the lives of four students – 17-year-old Justin Shilling, 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin, 16-year-old Tate Myre and 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana.

How do you go on when your child is the one who seemed to do everything right? An A+ scholar, the one with many friends and who treated everyone with respect. That's the way Justin's mom describes her son, taken from her too soon.

Related: Tate Myre's parents launch 42 Strong Foundation to keep his memory alive
Related: 'I miss her dearly.' Madisyn Baldwin's mom reflects on her daughter's impact

Justin is still being remembered and his goodness lives on in others

"There's been such an outpouring of messages from kids," Justin's mom, Jill Soave, said. "The stories about him, they just keep coming, and I love it."

If you go to his "Forever Justin Shilling" Facebook page, you'll understand this young man's impact on the Oxford community and beyond.

"His random acts of kindness. He lived in a way, really by the golden rule, do unto others as you'll have them do unto you," Soave said. "He was purely a giver and you felt uplifted."

Justin was a baseball player, a golfer and a bowler, but he supported everyone at school. Often, he showed up at football games as the biggest fan. His sudden death was devastating.

"We did have a few more days with Justin, you know, in the hospital. He was brain dead, but we got to be there with him and pray and just you know be with his body," Soave said.

"How are you today?" I asked Jill.

"It's been a long hard year. Now the reality is settling in, the permanence and it's really hard," she said.

It's hard, but knowing that a piece of Justin's goodness lives on thanks to the Gift of Life. He was able to help six people with two heart valves, his liver, kidneys, lungs, and even tissue.

"It's a remarkable feeling just knowing that he lives on and there are donor families that are beyond grateful," Soave said.

With her yellow ribbon and her gift of life pins, at least one mission is clear.

"I hope to get involved more with Gift of Life and help spread awareness with organ donation as well," she said.

But the one mission is not enough. She and the other parents need answers to assure other kids won't face another tragedy like this one.

"Justin's little brother still does not go very much lately. it's been tough with these constant threats<' she said.

"Has enough been done?" I asked.

"Until we know exactly what happened, how can we feel confident that what they're doing is going to prevent something from happening in the future?" she said.

The struggle to piece this community back together is ongoing.

"I know some people love the Oxford Strong. I say 'no, we're Oxford beautifully broken.' That's just how we deal with it," she said.

Ven Johnson is the attorney for Justin's parents.

"Everybody processes trauma in their own way, and maybe for some people that's a great word, but for Jill, it's not," he said. "he only way these tragedies exist is when people don't listen to their gut and use their voices to at least call into question hey I don't think this is right."

Soave had one last message for parents – spend time with your kids.

"Put your phone down just be present with your children. Be engaged, and it's okay to be a little nosey, because we can have a future with all of our children," she said.