Last night I poured myself a Guinness and toasted the memory of my dear friend, Julie.
Smart, funny, caring Julie. She embodied love and laughter, and she lived a beautiful, yet all too brief, life, leaving this world on Saturday morning at the age of 63.
Not long after Studly Doright and I moved to Tallahassee, I went to work part time for an educational research group at Florida State University. My job was to implement lessons designed by educational researchers and at the end of the year, administer diagnostic tests to children at several local elementary schools.
At one of these schools I was working in a room with this woman who just had a way about her. She wore flowy dresses and always had a smile. The children in her groups adored her, and she never had to raise her voice. They just wanted to make Miss Julie happy. Heck, after awhile we ALL just wanted to make Miss Julie happy.
Julie and I became friends. Occasionally she’d come out to Doright Manor, and we’d walk and talk. Her stories were fascinating. She and her very British mum had once lived in Alaska and owned a tea room there. She knew all sorts of interesting people and cultivated great friendships with folks from all walks of life.
After I stopped working for the research group, Julie and I saw each other less often, but we kept in touch via Facebook and text. She invited me along to movies and concerts and we had lunch together several times. I always knew she was “right there” if I needed a friend, and I hope she knew that about me, too.
Julie was the kind of person who’d drop everything and take off cross country to care for an ailing friend. The kind of person who’d show up to listen to a friend (me) tell one of my silly stories in a public venue, and laugh louder than anyone. And oh, what a lovely laugh!
Julie was the kind of person whose door was always open and whose heart was filled with love for people and the planet. I’d never really known a true earth mother until I met Julie, and I’m so much richer for having had her in my life.
Our very last conversation was on Facebook on Friday evening, the night before she died. We’d both gone to see “Yesterday,” at different theaters and discussed it briefly. I wish I’d kept the conversation going into the night and through the next day. Maybe we could’ve made it past the episode that claimed her life.
And the last thing of mine she shared on Facebook? I cried fresh tears when I read it.
Let me assure you, even though she didn’t make it to 65, Julie didn’t take anything for granted. She lived with her entire heart and soul. And I know that all who knew her were enriched by the relationship.
So Julie, this is for you. May your spirit rest in beauty and peace.