Thursday, July 16, 2009

At A Loss

Some of you have been wondering why my entries in this blog have not been many for the past few months. Well, a dear friend of ours had been diagnosed with cancer earlier this year. Yesterday morning she lost her fight.
I first met Julie when we moved to Flagstaff. My DH had one last tour of duty in Korea before his Army retirement, leaving Kelly and me behind to hold down the fort. We knew no one in Flagstaff. All we knew was it was centrally located between our respective families and looked like a nice place to retire to. Feeling somewhat cut-off, I joined both the quilters' guild as well as the weavers' guild, knowing that both groups were full of people known for welcoming newcomers. That's where I met Julie.
I guess Julie really met me. We had taken a class our local quilt shop put on, sitting next to each other at the work table. Soon we found out that we were both Army Wives (the real ones, not the TV show ones) except that Julie's husband had passed away a few years before while mine was just "gone". If I missed a meeting of the guild, or at her house where our Tuesday Night Ladies Quilting and Terrorist Society met, the phone would ring the next morning with Julie on the other end asking if we were both OK.
We loved chatting about experiences past and present. She had an extremely interesting life with the Pentagon as well as for the military overseas in Paris and Germany. She and her husband were married in Paris as well. Just the name "Paris" and you could see a smile on her face and a gleam in her eyes. True love. Julie + Lee + Paris.
She was always there if you needed help or that piece of fabric the quilt shop had sold out of and you needed more to finish a project. Kelly became like a granddaughter to her. Julie always was there with a graduation present or a wedding gift. We'd talk about the military...her about the time she and Lee spent in Europe and Lee's involvement with liaison work in Germany after about what it was like to be a WAC, then the transition to the New Army including my becoming an investigator. I remember one evening at her house with the TNT quilters. We had been discussing work and the military. I was explaining what some of my investigative work entailed, then I had to stop due to the discussion getting a bit "touchy" on things I couldn't discuss. A young woman made a flippant remark like "What? Will you have to kill me if you tell me?" I just smiled and said nothing. Julie knew. Julie just said, "Probably.", smiling sweetly. She knew. And because of it, she was about the only person (other than my DH and a few friends) who also knew I turned down a job offer at the White House on the Army staff (way back then). She knew I loved field work and crime scenes more than the prestige that job would have brought me. She just knew and I didn't have to go into detail.
And gourmet food was top on Julie's list of "the Good Life". Foods of all sorts. Christmas always saw a bag of goodies presented to us with treats from around the world along with an appropriate wine selection paring.
Then this spring the coughing wouldn't stop. A mutual friend stopped in to find Julie very ill, but not wanting to "bother" anyone to take her to Urgent Care. She called me from the hospital to tell me she was on a "vacation" but if I was in the area she'd love to see me. I went right in to see what was going on. Fluids on the lung were drained, tests were done, and then the bolt out of the blue. Cancer. Adenosarcoma. It was everywhere by the time they did the first PET scan. She was too weak to do chemotherapy. And I saw my petite friend shrinking before my eyes.
She had no family - or at least family she wanted contacted. She had a brother but gave instruction to the circle of friends now joined to aid her in any way possible. She'd kick our butts if we did. Then this month, food wasn't going down well. We all tried everything to no avail. By last week we could see she was losing her battle and pain was now setting in. By Sunday she was back in the hospital scheduled for fluid to be drained from around her heart. It didn't improve anything. I saw her late Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning she passed on.
I will miss her smiling face and diplomatic demeanor. She lived life to the fullest, only missing her much beloved husband.

I know when the pain became too much and air could no longer fill her lungs, Lee held out his hand and asked her to go dancing in Paris. And Julie, being Julie, did the only thing she could have done...
...she went.

And I will miss her.


Tina T-P said...

What a nice tribute to your friend. I'm sorry I didn't call this evening - I was thinking about you and wondering how she (and you) were doing.

I'm also sorry that Julie wasn't able to hold on until Kelly came next month - I'm sure she would have loved to meet her "great granddaughter"

I know it sounds goofy when you sing it, but memories really do light the corners of our minds. She'll be back to visit you - watch for shiny copper penneys or little white feathers that appear out of no place - that's Julie telling you that she's OK and she's keeping an eye over you. T.

Kelly said...


This is very nice.

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

You've managed to share her, and the friendship you had, so well; I'm feeling very sad and I didn't even know her. I'm so sorry you've lost such a friend!

Franna said...

What a friendship, Kathy. I'm glad for the two of you, and sorry there will be no new memories for the two of you.
Thank you for sharing the little peeks into your life and hers.
I'll light a candle for Julie.
- Franna

~~Sittin.n.Spinnin said...


Val said...

A great tribute to a wonderful friendship. Having met her when we were over the first time it is interesting to know a little more of her life. As you know our thoughts and prayers are with you

Tammy said...

So very sorry Kathy. Your tribute to your friend is beautiful. It's so hard to truly function well, when someone you love is so ill. Now there is a gap in your life from your dear friend's death. I pray for peace for you as you grieve and with time that the beautiful memories will out shine the pain.
Take care,

Kara said...

I am so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful well written tribute to your friend and your mutual friendship. Hugs.

nursedragon said...

Julie was truly the epitome of a cultured, well-traveled and well educated lady, who nevertheless had a devilish sense of humor. She will be greatly missed. What a beautifully written tribute to our friend. Thank you.

Bari McLean said...

Many years ago when I lived in Flagstaff, a friend gave me a T-Shirt with the words, Ladies Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society. I hadn't worn it in years, but every time I did I thought of our Tuesday nights together at Julie's for chatting, brainstorming and connecting. Last week I dug that shirt out and wore it while playing in the garden, not knowing she was close to getting on with her next adventure. She was so close to all of us and dearly loved. Thank you for this wonderful tribute to a woman who truly touched lives along the way. I know she is smiling with Lee--finally.

Sharon said...

Ah Kathy. I am so sorry - what a wonderful woman your friend was. Friendships like that take years to cultivate and I'm glad she has you to preserve her memory. Thanks for sharing her with us. And here I've been blathering on. I wish you peace, my friend.

Leigh said...

Kathy, I'm so sorry. You wrote a lovely tribute to her.

I need orange said...

I am so sorry for your loss.

She was clearly a very special person.

Janet said...

Kathy, thank you for sharing your friendship with us. You've expressed your feelings so well. Friends like that are very special and enrich our lives. May she rest in peace.