"Say what you have to say, and not what you ought."
~ Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Happy 38th Birthday Julie


You were my first conscious thought today, on my mind before I even opened my eyes. Today you would have been 38. It’s the fourth year your birthday will be celebrated without you. I’m still not sure how to do that. It used to be easy, just a matter of picking up the phone and calling to let you know how much I love you and how happy I was to celebrate the day you were born. Now I write you letters that are impossible to send, messages that will never be answered.

Birthdays are so hard, not just yours but mine too. Four years ago I didn’t imagine that every year my birthday would be another reminder of my loss. That’s what birthdays are though, markers of the passage of time. They measure the years of our lives. Your birthday is a reminder of how abruptly your life ended-over much too soon-leaving so many of us behind facing decades of celebrating your birthday without the guest of honor.

I wonder what you would be like at 38? How would you have aged? Would you look any different? You’re frozen in time at 34, forever young. I watch your friends grow older, always thinking of you as they carry on with their lives. When I look at the pictures of their life’s moments both big and small I can’t help but wonder if you would be doing the same things they are now. Would you be married? Would you have kids? Would you have the same job? Where would you be living? More than anything I wonder if you would be happy.

Later this year many of your friends will gather at your 20-year high school reunion. I know seeing those pictures of all of them together will be painful for me. You should be there, celebrating and reminiscing beside them and cutting it up on the dance floor like you did at your 10-year reunion. Instead, you’ll be one of the “classmates who are no longer with us” that will be recognized and remembered.

Everyone tells me I shouldn’t be sad today. Instead, I should remember all the good times and celebrate the years I had with you. I do that on lots of other days. I look at your pictures and laugh and remember. On other days I’m okay, I don’t ask why, I don’t hurt, or mourn, and I’m not angry. I’m a poster child for how to accept the unacceptable, but not today. Today I’ll look at your pictures and cry. I’ll gaze at your beautiful blue eyes, your curly hair, your smile, and I’ll miss all those things about you and so much more. Today I’ll just be missing you, my little sister.

Happy Birthday Jules. I love you forever.


  1. A beautiful post. A lovely tribute to your sister. You expressed what it feels like to lose someone who was and always will be a part of who you are. You wrote it with true emotion. I completely understand.

  2. I miss her so. Thanks for always being a good big sis.

  3. I think of the backstory for each photo. It breaks my heart. Keicha, treasure the little moments in life. Treasure you siblings. Hold each other tight. Care for each other. Remember that those little moments will keep the heart soft and give you courage to face each new day. I love you.

  4. Beautiful, loving and heart breaking all at once. By sharing Julie's story and your own journey you are helping others who are facing these same issues. I'm so sorry for your loss.

  5. What a beautiful, honest and loving tribute to Julie. All the things you say, I think those of us who have experienced loss of anyone close, but especially young, contemplate at times -- and feelings of when we don't mourn at all, which means growth. I still remember from my grief days -- "You don't get over a death, you get through it." And you are. So, on those days when you need to cry, you do. And that's good. And on the days your remember the happies -- that's good, too. Sharing so openly is a gift to us all, Keicha. Thank you.


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