Dear Julie,

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Dear Julie,

I am truly thankful to God for letting our lives intersect.  It was clear almost from the start that He had a hand in putting us together, and I am grateful.  When I think of you, memories come rushing in, and I want to hold on to them all.

I remember…

After seeing an ad for a new dance studio that seemed refreshingly family friendly, creative, and fun, I thought it seemed like a good place to try teaching my newly developed music classes for little kids. I sent a letter with a prayer that it would work out if it was meant to, then got a call several weeks later to set up a meeting with you and Jonathan.

I remember…

You were both so business-like, ensuring that ours would be a good collaboration before bringing me on board, into your family, really. I left there feeling so impressed at your work ethic, your drive, and your vision for your special dance studio. Our collaboration quickly turned to friendship.  Julie, I got so much more than a place to teach…thank you.

I remember…

We talked for almost an hour after most classes had ended, found we had a lot in common, talked about kids and school, and got the sense that our mothering was very similar.  We were both raising smart, talented, serious girls, and we both had high expectations for them.  As I got to know Abigail more in class, I could see so much of you in her; creative, intuitive, talented, and with that same smile and warmth that radiated from you.

I remember…

We talked about faith soon after a diagnosis.  I gave you a blessed medal that my mother had given to me, and you later said it meant a lot to you.  I was glad you had it.  We talked about going on retreat together, but as it turned out, the scheduling never worked out.  You didn’t need it so much as a learning time, anyway, having learned so much the hard way. You’re more patient, compassionate, and strong than anyone I know.  Still, I wish we could have had that time together.

I remember…

You were good, kind, generous, and forgiving all the time in so many ways.  You had a lot of chaos around you, but you were a port in a storm-always calm, even, wise, making decisions for the good of others and always putting their feelings first.

I remember…

Family pizza night, game nights, and your dance classes for a group of our friends.  I remember your talent, grace, and patience with us.  I remember your beautiful smile and the sound of your laughter.

I remember…

…how you were a part of our scavenger hunt even though you had just received a new cancer diagnosis.  As we stopped into your studio on that Saturday morning, we were greeted with a beaming smile and a dance challenge.  You made us all dance, even the guys (especially them!), and we brought you flowers.  You were so appreciative of that small gesture, so filled with love for us.  You appreciated everything, it seemed you never knew how worthy you were, you were that humble.  I hope you know now.

I remember…

…you coming to Tim’s birthday party and I jokingly introduced you to my parents as ‘my boss’.  You laughed, extended your hand to my father and said, “no…her friend!”

I remember…

…all the hard work you put into my birthday surprise flash mob, how you connected people who previously hadn’t known you or each other, how impressed everyone was with your talent and character.  I remember how lucky I felt to be counted among your friends.  I still do.

I remember….

…having coffee/cocoa at your house and never once talking about you being sick.  You just wanted to live positively and not focus on the rest.  That seemed (and was!) so brave.  What an example to all of us to keep moving forward, to keep swimming, keep appreciating.  So, we gossiped, talked about our kids, school, friends… all of the stuff we used to talk about at the beginning of our friendship all those years ago.  It was always easy and comfortable to be with you. You were such a gracious host, a person who made other people feel valued, welcomed, and appreciated.

I remember….

You showed me quilts that had been made for you, because I was looking for someone to make quilts for me.  They showed the span of so much of your life, your work, your studio, the love you poured into your students.  It was remarkable to see a good, good life stretched out in full view.

I remember….

….your facebook posts around Christmas-time, how you felt like George Bailey, and I remember thinking, YES.  Changing the lives of others around you, making them better, being true, honest, generous, putting others first…yes, George Bailey sounds about right, indeed.  If you felt even a fraction of that love come back to you over the last few months, I am so glad.  You deserve it, and more.  I hope ‘more’ is what you’re receiving right now, this very minute.

Julie, you taught so many lessons by the way you lived about what it is to be courageous, strong, joyful, happy, positive, generous, and good.  I hope to carry these and all of our good memories with me until we meet again.  It seems to me that in the journey of life, you aced your finals, and so it was time to go home.  Even though it’s so hard to accept, I can understand the wisdom of that, and I know you won’t leave Jonathan and Abigail’s side for a minute. Every step they take, there you will be. But I’m really going to miss you, my friend, until we meet again.  Keep dancing and find my Mom; she will clap in time to the music on the ‘1’ and the ‘3’, but will make a great audience.  🙂  Oh, I love you, my friend.

PS-I snapped this picture of the Christmas tree at the studio last month because that purple dragonfly really struck me.  Since my mother passed away, dragonflies have crossed my path over and over.  I will be looking for purple ones now.

Love you so much,

Kerry

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