With the encouragement of my dear friend at Dragonlane, Redrokit decided to tell just one more story, only so you know how things are going around here. We hope you like it.
My niece Madalynn and I saw Lana Del Rey a week ago last Sunday. We attended the concert in tribute to Madalynn’s Mom, my sister Julie, whom we lost to cancer on February 12th of this year. Julie loved Lana; and so do Madalynn and I. And somewhere in the middle of that concert, Madalynn and I found ourselves standing, and singing our hearts out with the crowd all around us. And we sang, “I will love you til the end of time. Probably A Million Years.”
And we both knew exactly who the other was thinking of as we sang those words.
On the drive home, a waxing gibbous moon glowed in the sky. And as often happens whenever a member of Team Julie sees a beautiful moon in the sky, we think of Julie who chose a tiny little moon tattoo to adorn her wrist a few years back.
“I wonder if we will have a full moon on Tuesday night,” said Madalynn. I said I hoped so. Mentioned that I had heard from a girlfriend that it was supposed to be a strawberry moon in fact.
Because Tuesday night was looming large in the minds of everyone here at Team Julie. In the first year of grief, as we have all come to understand more fully, there are a number of first occasions through which we must suffer without a loved one beside us. And Tuesday was June 2nd; the day that should have been Julie’s 45th birthday.
I awoke early on Tuesday morning, and realized with great chagrin that I had backslid in my progress through the stages of grief that all of Team Julie has been experiencing over the last three and a half months. And I realized that I had slipped back into The Anger Stage. My least favorite of them all, that horrible Anger Stage. It’s not my poor husband’s favorite stage either, let me tell you.
Luckily, however, my nieces had a plan for June 2nd. And they had graciously invited me along with them. And it made all the difference.
First, Maggie and I had a little shopping to do for certain clothing items that required a girls-only rule. Unfortunately the display of sunglasses across the aisle were far more interesting and compelling to the kid, as I struggled to insist that we had a job to do and we were going to get it done by golly. Thankfully, we managed to find a couple of items that fit Maggie quite well and headed to the checkout counter.
Just after Maggie had talked me into an additional purchase. Of new sunglasses. Of course she did.
Soon after the tags were removed from the sunglasses, Maggie and I headed out to Madalynn’s apartment to collect her and a certain boy who had travelled all the way from Milwaukee to be a support to Madalynn on this very first Julie-less June 2nd. Well. Bless that boy’s heart, is all I can say.
Our first stop, once we got ourselves situated in the car, was The Laundry in Fenton for dinner. We ordered up, chatted our way through the meal, and lingered at the end of it. Soaked up the moments together at Julie’s most favorite restaurant. We realized, however, that it was growing cooler outside due to the clear evening sky and the high barometer reading. And so we decided to grab a few sweatshirts and jackets at Madalynn’s before heading out for our final destination of the evening.
At almost half past nine, I made a left turn onto the road that would take us to Club Julie, and there it was straight before us in the dark blue sky. A full, bright, gorgeous and enormous strawberry moon.
Everyone in the car saw it at the exact same moment. There was a great intake of breath. “Oh my ___”, we said in unison. Well, almost unison anyway. We did form a chord of words for the last bit. Tried to catch our breaths afterward. Sat quietly in the car as we continued on our journey.
We found a quiet, out-of-the-way spot in the condo neighborhood where Julie and her daughters had made their last home together. Opened the trunk, unwrapped a new sharpie pen, and each of us three girls wrote our own special messages to our beloved Julie on thin, almost transparent white paper. Handed a lighter to the boy. Held our lanterns in front of ourselves in turn, and let the boy light the small parafin coated squares at the base of our Chinese lanterns. And within seconds, each of our lanterns had filled with warm air, had moved into an upright position of their own volition, and tugged gently upward as our hands held them. And then we let go and watched our lanterns float away from us.
And with strawberry moonbeams on our shoulders, we stood quietly and watched our three lanterns float in close proximity to one another, until they flew directly over Club Julie. And then, one by one, our lanterns disappeared from sight.
Maggie was ecstatic. I felt the need for a hug. Madalynn cried a little bit. The boy kept still, put his arm around Madalynn, let us be ourselves in the company of the moonlight.
And on our way home, the girls decided that our evening wasn’t huge, or complicated, or splashy. Instead, it was perfect.
And I looked at my nieces, the daughters of my beloved sister Julie, and I thought…
I will love you til the end of time.
Probably A Million Years.
Thanks for checking in, and Go Team Julie
And just in case you missed Julie’s moon on June 2nd, she also visited Brother Bill, who was wandering around, missing Julie with all his heart in Kenosha, Wisconsin. And he recorded her visit as no one else could.
And now, I shall return to my quiet corner.