On Valentine's Day of 2010, a family in my church received the devastating news that their almost 4 year old daughter, Julianne, had an inoperable brain tumor. I instantly felt a stronger connection to the family, not because I had experienced anything like that, but because I have a daughter very close in age to theirs, and I had always thought our girls sort of resembled each other. As the months passed, Julianne changed physically as a result of the treatments she was receiving, but inside, she was the same spirited little girl she had always been. A few months ago, we rejoiced at the news that one of her treatments had worked in shrinking the tumor, and while we were cautiously optimistic, we felt a real hope. Unfortunately, a few weeks ago, the news came that the tumor was growing once again and soon after, Julianne took a dramatic turn for the worse. Her family "moved" Christmas Eve up by 10 days, to ensure that she would be able to still enjoy it. It was a wonderful thing that they did and has allowed their family to have some good Christmas memories of 2010. On Christmas Eve morning, around 11:30, sweet Julianne passed away in the loving arms of her parents.
Today, we attended a "Celebration of Life" service for Julianne, a joyous event, marked with a terrible sadness. As I sat there with my girls, I empathized with Julianne's mother, yet realized I could not truly understand what she is feeling. I always have known that it is possible to lose one of my children, but this journey that Julianne has taken, made that possibility feel much more real. I already find myself hugging my children longer and more often, and making sure that I do not forget to say "I love you" several times a day. I am planning many more activities to draw our family closer together on a daily basis, regardless of what else is going on in our individual worlds.
To my readers, I ask that you keep this family in your thoughts and prayers as they enter the difficult grieving process. I also ask that you take the time to truly treasure the beautiful gifts you have been given in your children. Express your love and your gratitude for them often. Take time to turn off the electronics, put down the cleaning rags, and worry less about the mess, at least once in a while. You never know what tomorrow will bring.
In memory of Julianne, February 26, 2006-December 24, 2010