When you are a parent, you look back on the years and realize everything goes by so quickly. From the day your child is born to the first day of school, it is a blink of an eye. But when your child leaves, time slows down – waiting for a call, a visit.
The last six months without Julia have been an eternity. The days move slowly into the nights, just waiting, remembering. I have thought so much about what to write – how to describe the loneliness, the emptiness, the grief. There are no profound words that can clearly express how I feel. I miss Julia. I miss her with every part of my being. The sadness is intense and I now know the meaning of heart ache.
Without Julia, I find that I am waiting for that call, that visit, that dream. The night before Julia passed, she told me to dream about her as we were falling asleep. For six months, I have waited for that dream and nothing. I have longed for another “wink”. There has been nothing, but time, time moving so slowly.
I have been looking for things to pass the hours, to keep me busy. Yes, there is work during the days and evenings filled with planning for Julia’s Grace Foundation. But, I am still searching for other activities, looking for things to make the time move faster.
In January, I decided to form a book club and sent an email to friends and family to see if they were interested. The first Friday night of February we held our inaugural meeting. Sitting around our kitchen table were so many friends. Some neighbors, some family, some mothers of Julia’s friends; but all with one common thread, Julia. Julia brought us all together, friends new and old. We listed the books we all wanted to read. There were 20 in all and then came the hard part, selecting our first book to read. We went back and forth trying to decide on a title until someone suggested taking everyone’s birth date and dividing it by the number of people at the meeting. A bit complicated after a few glasses of wine, but calculations done and we determined the answer is 16. At the same time, someone used a random number generator on her phone, and what comes out – the number 16. Coincidence?
So, we count to number 16 on the list of books and our book is selected – The Art of Hearing Heartbeats. A synopsis of the book was read aloud so that we can find out what we are getting ourselves into, only to find that the name of the main character is Julia. Was this another coincidence or a “wink”? And then, then there is Julia’s birthday, November 16.
I read the book wondering if we drawn to read this book for a reason? And after reading it, I understand. So many passages of this book spoke out as if specially sent to me, messages for me to only hear. This weekend was the WICKED fundraiser for Julia’s Grace Foundation. John and I went into the week knowing how difficult it would be to sit through the performance, to sit listening to the words and music that Julia so loved. We panicked a bit early in the week, wondering where the strength to get through the day would come from, thinking we were crazy to put ourselves in this position.
As John and I watched the show, we both turned to each other during the scene for “Dancing Thru Life” noticing the same thing. Something we have never observed before. During the scene, the chorus are holding books and they slam them shut “in time” to the music. In unison, we both realize the books had covers of black and white and the spines appeared pink in the light, colors that so remind us of Julia. Perhaps this is another coincidence or maybe a little message to both of us? I think Einstein was right when he said “coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous”.
The show progressed and I looked around at everyone watching, all the supporters of the foundation; watching the show, smiling, hearing the music, the story that meant so much to Julia. And then I looked over at the family that Julia’s Foundation sponsored to go on the trip with us; a family that we were able to give a day away from their cancer battle to enjoy a special family moment or what we have started to call “hugs”. I watched as the child leaned into the mother, smiling ear to ear and my heart stopped aching, even if just for a second.
I have been yearning for a sign over the past six months. It hasn’t been until recent weeks that I am starting to realize that they are all around us; we just need to be open to receive them. The signs are there; they are the manifestation of Julia’s optimism, her pushing us even now to do more, to help others. They are there; in the smiles of those we help, knowing we are making a difference, knowing Julia’s spirit is with us every step of the way.
And every so often, we get a “wink” meant just for us, like the number 16 and a book that is sent for me to read. And someday, I will sleep, dreaming of my “star girl” and smile again.