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 WWII...me 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...
And I will miss her.