With Julie in the gazebo at Zilber Hospice
I met Julie several years ago because of life coaching. I was a guest presenter in a Coaches’ Group that met by phone and included people from all over the country. When Julie heard that I was in Milwaukee, she got in touch and we started getting together in lovely settings from the Urban Ecology Center to her favorite restaurant, Casablanca.
What I remember most is walking to my car after we spent time together and feeling lighter on my feet and in my heart. Julie lived her life with passion and vibrancy, her huge heart on her sleeve. Even when people pissed her off, she did her best to respond with compassion and healing, and more often than not, succeeded.
The word that I most associate with Julie is generosity. She gave freely of herself, her energy, her love, her friendship. Even when she was dying, she made sure that everyone around her felt the full force of her love and did her best to help everyone feel okay, or as okay as we could in the circumstance. Her generosity of spirit created a luminous glow of love around her, like a blanket that she drew around her for warmth and comfort that we were invited under, too.
She was still coaching and teaching, right until her last day, by the way she gracefully carried on. Julie had her dark moments in this journey, of course, but she immediately accepted her diagnosis and the way things were. Her acceptance freed her to experience and feel and love, instead of grasping and fighting with fear and anxiety.
Julie cracked jokes as she always had, filled notebooks with writing, gave long and deep hugs, and made sure each person felt treasured – all while she struggled for each breath against the cancer that was overtaking her. She and her equally amazing and generous husband Joel created a welcoming space in her room or out in the gazebo on the hospice grounds, inviting friends and family to share time. What a gift! There was food, wine (only for Julie), lots of laughing, storytelling, hugs – they created community among people who were often meeting each other for the first time.
Julie, you taught us all how to live, and now you’ve taught us how to die. You live on in our hearts, and in our lives as we do our best to live with the grace, love, humor and generosity that you showed us. Go well, bright spirit.