NEW ALBANY – I’ve covered hundreds of stories since getting into journalism a few years ago, but Marshuan Braxton’s funeral is one of the most touching stories I’ve ever covered.
Braxton, 17, a rising New Albany High School senior, died in Costa Rica on June 21 when an unexpected wave swept him into the Pacific Ocean.
His funeral at New Albany Middle School on Sunday was a sight to behold. The entire gym was full of his friends, family, fellow church members, teammates and teachers.
I didn’t know Braxton in life, but I left that gym feeling as thought I knew him.
In between Bible readings and song selections, Braxton’s friends told funny and touching stories about their friend.
I couldn’t fit much of these stories into the paper, so I’d like to include some of them here.
From Braxton’s friend Tanner Watson:
“Marshuan and I go back to fifth grade. We were in the library, and we were both trying to check out the same book. He let me have it – he was that kind of guy.” He said the pair ran cross country together, and it was Braxton that woke him up every morning to run. “He was better at it than me. He had more drive than I did … He was always the kind of friend, that, if you thought you couldn’t do nothing, he’d tell you you could … I’ll always have a place in my heart for Marshuan. He was my best friend, and a good friend at that. I love you Marshuan. I’ll miss you.”
From Braxton’s friend and fellow church youth member Karl Capaning:
Capaning said he and Braxton were the only two minorities in their youth group at church, something Capaning said he didn’t notice until Braxton pointed it out to him. “He said as soon as he saw me, he was immediately comforted … I sang in a trio with (Braxton), and he came up with our name, The Ethnic Group … Some of my fondest memories of Marshuan were of him singing in the youth choir. He was also a very passionate singer … He was the heart and soul of our youth choir.”
Capaning spoke about how much respect he had for Braxton. “He had colleges already sending him letters, and he was a junior. He wanted to make a change.”
Capaning said Braxton worked and saved his own money to go to Costa Rica, according to Braxton’s grandmother.
“She said he’s done more in his life than some 90 year olds and some 100 year olds … that’s evident in the more than 130 wall posts on his Facebook page … I will sincerely miss him. We were truly friends and I will never ever forget him.”
From Braxton’s friend Taylor Watson:
“Marshuan was as close to me as he was to everybody. Marshuan was a driven, passionate young man.” Watson spoke about when he heard Braxton was missing, and later when he learned he’d died.
“It finally set in that he’s gone, but he’s not gone. I can still hear his voice in my head … I know where he is, and I know he’s fine, and I know I’m gonna meet him one day.”
From his friend Bobby Coltharp:
“I’m not gonna pretend me and Marshuan were friends from the start – he didn’t like me that much, honestly. He didn’t want any part of me,” he said, getting a few laughs from the crowd, and he noted the two slowly built a friendship over the years.
Coltharp said he’s always known he wanted to be a radiologist.
“When people would ask what we wanted to be, I’d always answer first, ‘I want to be a radiologist.’ And Marshuan would always say he wanted to be a radiologist’s assistant. But everybody knew he was smarter than I was … I felt he looked up to me, but I feel it was the other way around. I love you, Marshuan.”
Also, here is the poem for Braxton, written by his aunt, Vera Braxton, that was on the back of the program:
“God Knows Best”
You were our wings that made us fly so high;
We are now left to ponder on the reason why.
You were so good, so sweet, so humble;
Our hearts are left now only to crumble.
We want to be strong to make you proud.
That’s why we are rejoicing aloud.
We love you, miss you, and want you here with us.
God knows best so there’s no reason to fuss.
You have touched so many, so many hearts
And we know it was your time to part.
We don’t like the idea that you are gone.
But we know you are in Heaven where you truly belong.
Remembering your smile, your laughter,
Your happiness will ease our pain.
You were always our rainbow after the rain.
We love you, miss you so very much.
But God knows best and there is no need to fuss.
Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal