Julie, a lesson in human grace

It’s interesting to me that the last post I wrote addressed a fear that life might not provide enough to blog about.  The last few weeks have been filled with more than I can fit in one blog, maybe not even five.  Last night I woke up as is my way, at about 2:00 in the morning, my mind ready to formulate my blog post(s).  I’ve come to welcome the interrupted sleep, as it means I’m ready to continue on this journey with you, my readers.

I tossed and turned for at least two hours, my tears falling softly upon my pillow as I recounted the blessings and sorrows of my life.  I always feel a little bad for Rick on these nights, as I wrap my arm around him for comfort, and then turn away as my mind wanders into writing mode. We shift back and forth together, sleeping dancers, for however long it takes me to finish formulating my thoughts, piecing together the story as I would a quilt, layering the colors and feelings until the vision is as beautiful as my mind’s eye.  (Might not have mentioned I’m a quilter.)

In the wee morning hours, my mind usually finds comfort in my ideas for the upcoming post, and I am finally able to drift off.  It’s such fun to make my way to the computer to hopefully return to the ideas that kept me from sleep.  And in more cases than not, it’s with gratitude and enjoyment that I return.

The past few weeks have been filled with much movement and change moving forward, but at the same time looking back, which is what I want to address in this post,  a return to the past.  I don’t know about you guys, but I see patterns in my life.  I seem to pass through periods that delve into one subject over and over again.  Lessons come to me from all avenues about a particular subject.  And when that happens, I think  to myself that I have something to learn or to reconcile, and in some wonderful instances, just a cherished memory to embrace.

I have found myself revisiting many of my private historical landscapes. An unusual number of memories for such a short period of time have sidled up next to me hitching a ride which I’ve been more than happy to offer up, memories of loved ones who have left this earth, and also loved ones who I’ve chosen to take a different path from.  Either way, the disconnect of yesteryear was in most cases painful and difficult, so the reconnect has been nothing short of blissful, but also extremely emotional.

These memories deserve their own post, in honor of my past, so I will focus only on one in this post, my memories of Julie.

Julie is and was a lesson in human grace.

Julie … if  you know me, you know that Julie was my gal … my Clarence (angel) … my mentor, my life teacher, and in the end, one of my dearest friends.  I am sure my readers can relate and replace the character on this page with the names of their loved ones.

I lost a larger than life angel from nothing more than a human condition.  It took me aback, and it also took me years to reconcile my loss.  But I never lost site of what I’d learned from Julie

A Love Of … not in any particular order … laughter, helping others, cooking, children, her children, cleaning, rising to the occasion, doing your best, being the best of a friend/neighbor/loved one … and what I know she would want me to add is, doing something kind for another without looking for any reward.

When I met Julie, she was in the prime of her life, and I was beyond lucky to tag along on her journey with Chris, her youngest son… Paul, her oldest … and Chuck, her husband.  I was 26 when I moved in across the street from Julie.  Because of Julie, I do believe in love at first sight, because I fell head over heels in love the first time I met her, and that love never wavered.  I was a very unaccomplished young cook, putting it mildly.  And Julie was probably the best cook I’ve ever known.  I used to joke that she could put dog food on the table, and you’d walk away remarking how great the meal was.

We began what would become a cherished experience, cooking together, shortly after we met.  She took pity on me, or probably more likely my husband, and took it upon herself to teach me to cook.  For years once every few weeks about 4:00 I’d get a call asking if I was free to come learn another of her amazing dishes.  I’d drop whatever I was doing and make my way quickly across the street.  She would teach … I would learn … but mostly we just enjoyed those hours together laughing and sharing whatever was new in our lives at that time.  Julie ranks up there with Ron, who I’ve spoken of in previous posts, in terms of people that not only influenced my life, but changed it significantly.

Julie left about eight years ago, and a few months back, her husband Chuck finally made his way to meet her once again.  I have no doubt that they are dancin’ in heaven … she did so love to dance.

A few weeks ago I visited her youngest, Chris, and his lovely wife, Jenn, at their home in Florida for the first time.  It was so special to finally have and make the time to spend with them.  I felt such pride seeing the amazing man Chris has become, and enjoyed getting to know the lovely woman he has the blessing to be married to.  Both of Julie’s sons are amazing people… of course, they were raised by Julie.

As we entered their home, I stopped in my tracks … Julie was everywhere.  I had not anticipated this.  Our room had her bedroom set.  Pieces of her furniture adorned most rooms, artwork on the walls, a basket I recognized on a table, a teapot in the kitchen.  Chris and Jenn, of course, have added a great deal of their own decorating choices to their home, but even their taste, gorgeous but simple. reminded me of Julie.  She could create a space on a shoestring budget that you just couldn’t get enough of, a combination of good taste and good will went into her home … and visiting Chris and Jenn’s home surprisingly took me back.  I fought the tears for probably the first hour or so, but as I gave in and let the feelings wash over me, I quickly found that I LOVED being in and amongst her things.

For a few precious days, I basked in my memories and felt her close.  I laughed with her son like I used to laugh with her … and once again I was reminded that life has such gifts to receive if we reach back for them … so often, we find reasons not to.  (Reminder to self:  take time, make time, remember tomorrow is never a guarantee.)

There’s so much more to this blessed story that I will undoubtedly post about in time.  But for now, I just wanted to share this experience with you all in the hopes that you might find yourselves in my story.  If I’ve learned anything in my 62 years, it’s that we humans are far more alike than different.  We choose to show up dressed in unique garb of different colors, but that’s what makes it so much fun.  So many flowers to enjoy in the garden.  (I think I’ve said that before, and probably will many more times.)

Before I close, I just wanted to welcome my three new readers this week, even when I wasn’t posting!  Awesome … and blogging news,  wait for it … I now have 200 followers.  Compared to many bloggers, that may not sound like much, but for me, that number sounds like heaven.  Two hundred souls joining me on my journey … I breathe it in, then breathe it out in such gratitude.  Can’t wait to connect with you guys soon, lots to catch up on.

Namaste

Friends

Friends are one of life’s amazing gifts.  They aren’t souls that gravitate toward us because they are part of our family, a work associate, or some other mandatory connection that you happen to enjoy (or not).  They enter our lives randomly, and the connection is immediate. Some call it chemistry, and there is definitely that…  there’s an ease we feel in their company, an absence of a need to try too hard, and in most cases a shared sense of humor.  I’ve never had a good friend that I didn’t laugh with … a lot.

My experience has been that friends come in all shapes and sizes and for all different lengths of time.  Some will only be with you for a specific part of your life, for as long as they are needed.  I have thought of those friends as my outside circle.  My inside circle has always been something altogether different, and those relationships have in most cases passed the test of time. Maybe because I was an only child, my friends took on an elevated importance in my life.  I have been beyond blessed and rich when it comes to friends.

A few days ago my dear friend, Cindi, sent me a text asking me to call.  At our age, it’s never good if a friend texts you asking you to call.  Not to be negative, but it’s usually news they don’t want to deliver via a text.  And sadly, my suspicions were correct, we had lost our dear friend, Carrie.  What compounded the hurt when receiving the news, is that I didn’t even know she was ill.  Life is interesting … some friends leave you for whatever reason with a great deal of drama, and some leave so quietly that you didn’t even know they were planning to go.

Carrie came into my life in my young thirties … our girls went to preschool together.  Our children were three years old in a class with an amazing teacher.  There were four of us mothers who gravitated to each other just as our children did the same.  It was a toss up who was enjoying who more, the kids or us moms.  Between us four women, we had a total of nine children, but this class in particular consisted of my Amy, and then Natalie, Taylor and Stevie, three girls and one boy.  We all shared a few precious years together, but in the last year of preschool, Mindy, who was Stevie’s mom developed brain cancer.  We lost Mindy in a short time.  Losing anyone is hard, but there are a few circumstances that rip your heart out more than others … to name a few, a child dying or a young mom dying leaving behind her kids.

We grieved Mindy’s loss and secretly thanked the heavens above for the reprieve.  Cindy, Carrie and I had been granted a stay … we would enjoy watching our children grow into adolescents and from there adults.  But the lesson would never be forgotten.  Giving birth to your children is one blessing, watching them grow up is quite another. 

Carrie and I lost touch for a number of years as our children were not in the same school district, but about ten years ago, we reunited.  And just as most old friends find, it was like no time had passed.  I enjoyed all her same sweet personality traits, like it was yesterday … the way she told a funny story, giggling all the while telling it, her fabulous sense of humor, and the look in her eye as she finished the tale asking only with her expression for your take on this hilarious narrative she had just shared with you.  They were such crazy life anecdotes about aging parents and the like, and always full of the ridiculous, so it was ever so much fun to join in and share the humor with her.

Carrie and Paul visited us probably a year and a half ago, spending a great weekend with us hiking.  As I piece together this story in hindsight, it was probably after that visit that she became ill and my mom also began to decline.  As our lives went in separate stressful directions, neither of us knew what the other was up to, and it wouldn’t have been unusual to lose touch for months or even a year.  There was just that comfort between friends that when the time was right, we would reunite with stories to share.

And it was time to reconnect, I had been thinking of her for a month or so.  She was on my list… I’ll never think of my list quite the same after this.

Our original circle of four has now suddenly become two … a new reprieve, a new lesson about appreciating the gift of watching your children become adults, perhaps marry and become parents in their own rite.

Cindi said something kind of interesting to me when we talked … she said “I imagined this conversation in your blog.”  She was right, this would make its way to my blog about crossroads, change, aging, loss, health, stress, fitness, yoga, renewal … in other words, life.

To Carrie, wherever she is, I send my love and sadly my regret.  I know she is beyond such earthly cares, but nonetheless I hope she knows.  And to my readers, get on the damn phone and call any loved one you have been thinking about, or text or do whatever you do to share that blessed connection you feel with them.

Namaste

The photo is of my daughter, Amy on the right, Taylor (Carrie’s daughter) in the middle and Natalie (Cindi’s daughter) on the left, and sweet Mindy behind in the big white collar.  Like mother(s) … like daughter(s)…always laughing.