I was three years old when my mother was pregnant with Julie; I remember my mother’s huge belly. She would let me play by pushing her protruding belly button and saying, “Ding dong! Is anybody home?” I would then press my ear against Mother’s belly and pretend that Julie was talking to me.
When my parent’s brought Julie home from the hospital, the first thing I noticed was her dark hair sticking out of the top of the blanket she was wrapped in. My hair was lighter; more like my mother’s. Because Julie’s hair was the color of my father’s, I assumed she was a boy. I didn’t want a brother. My parents assured me she was a girl, and I took to her immediately.
I was still quite small myself, and was not allowed to carry Julie around like I wanted to. Mother would often lay her on a thick blanket on the floor, and I would pull her around the house by the edge of the blanket. I just wanted her with me.
Julie and I fought a lot as kids, but we also had a lot of good times. We used to climb trees together and ride bikes together. Every Christmas we did a little skit for our parents. We didn’t know at the time how funny we really were. One of the happiest memories I have of our childhood is our dancing together. We made up all kinds routines! Our favorite song to dance to was Crocodile Rock by Elton John.
Sadly, as we grew up, we grew apart. As distant as we were for most of our adult years, we were there for each other when it counted most. We both knew that we could rely on each other, and that, no matter what, we were never completely alone in the world because we had each other.
Julie was loving and decent and gave of herself. She was mother to two beautiful children who she adored. Julie was honest and dedicated. She loved to laugh and to make others laugh as well. Her sense of humor was unusual, but one of her most endearing qualities. Her ashes were sealed inside a Daffy Duck cookie jar which she purchased before her death, especially for the occasion.
Julie was diagnosed with cancer in the Fall of 1998. Her doctors were hopeful in the beginning that it could be removed surgically followed by a few chemotherapy treatments. During the surgery they discovered that it was inoperable; that trying to remove it could be dangerous. She underwent a series of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and things started looking good.
The cancer was in remission for about a year when it came back with a vengeance. The prognosis was bad: even with more treatments, there was less than a 30% chance that she would beat it again. She courageously decided to spend her last months traveling and spending time with her children. She did not want to spend the short time she had left undergoing treatments that would make her sick and miserable. More importantly to her, she did not want to subject her children to it.
Julie fought a good fight, but died at home in her own bed on February 16, 2001. She was deeply loved by more people than I think she realized. Seven years later, she is still deeply missed.
I loved my sister, Julie Lyn, when I pretend my mother’s belly button was a doorbell. I loved and admired her throughout her life, and I loved her the night she died. I love Julie and miss her terribly even as I write this. And I will love her the day I draw my own final breath.