Fear or Courage

Julie past from this life two months ago today.  This final post is taken from a portion of my speech at Julie’s funeral.  As a preface to this I would refer you to part-2 of her life sketch, To Beautiful Mama

Julie loved her high school days and she missed them. She loved being a cheerleader. She loved pep assemblies and football games, and getting up in front of the crowd and yelling. Not only was she a cheerleader, but the cheerleader leader, or cheer queen they used to call it. For many people who knew her later in life that was a shocker. I think that’s because she was not boisterous at all. She was proud of being a cheerleader, but was embarrassed when I mentioned it to others and teased her a little, and she would tell me to “stop.” But she was not shy, and she loved people and getting to know people.

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Fun times, senior year, 1987

Julie had a wild, non-conformist side to her.   When I was dating her, she wore two ear peircings in one ear, and just one in the other. At that time in Idaho Falls 1987, that was a little crazy. I thought it was a good sign and I liked it. But Julie would never have done that if she were a young person today, because she would always follow advice from the LDS prophet. She was daring to go against the cultural grain, but not against her religion.  She was always true to her faith and family.

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I don’t know what this is, but this is Julie’s happy face when she would get a little crazy

Julie and I started or lives out on the road. On our honeymoon we drove to the Oregon coast and back. We camped in a tent once on the way there and once on the way back. She was fun to drive with. We sang all the way, and she taught me these crazy songs she learned either at girls camp or from her Mennonite kin. We have driven through 40 states singing and talking.  She was so much fun.  She was my best friend. Julie was also brilliant, the wisest person I have known, and I always looked to her for advice, and now I am aways trying to imagine what advice she would give me.

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Family road trip, back to Oregon, July 2010

Julie was not perfect, and it concerned her.  She would get frustrated with herself and what she thought were her problems. I always told her that I loved every imperfection about her, that they were what made her perfect to me. I loved those so-called imperfections.

Julie had a great fear of water in her face, even in the shower she didn’t want the water to splash or run down her face, yet when in Hawaii she fought her fear to go snorkeling and she put her face in the ocean and beheld the great beauty below. She was deeply afraid of the pain of having children. Yet she chose to have seven children. On one occasion while sitting in church with her two month old baby on her lap, there was someone else blessing their newborn baby just two weeks old. Julie turned to me and whispered, “Oh, I want to have another one.” I thought she was crazy.

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Her life’s work, The Magnificent Seven

Fear and courage dwelt in her heart. Julie had enough courage to face what she was afraid of, although she definitely did shrink at times. The rewards of her courage were beautiful children, and seeing the beautiful ocean below the surface. But what is the beautiful reward at the end of her life, for facing her fears and enduring to the end?

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Stepping into the ocean

Many times over the course of her illness, she cried out to me, in great anguish of pain, fear and sadness. Sadness mostly about loosing her family, and fear of the changes that were happening, fear of the nausea, fear of the pain, and ultimately fear of the death she knew was coming. It was the saddest thing to witness so intimately and repeatedly. It was so moving and heart wrenching, that I decided I needed to share it with others. She actually liked me doing that.

You who have read my blog know of how with anguish she would cry out words like, “This is not who I am, this is not how I want to be remembered. I want to run and play. There is so much I want to do.” And sobbing and shaking she cried, “I just wanted to live so bad!” A week before Julie passed away, she told me she wanted to talk. She told me that she wanted it to be over. It was finally too much to fight against any longer.

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2 AM breakfast with Julie, about a week before

Julie is only one of many, many people who have experienced this degree of fear and sadness. It happens all around us. Once when I was in a hospital room with Julie, from down the hall I heard a loud, mournful yell and cry, and it went on and on. Then it would stop for a while and then start up again. It was from a woman who had just found out that her cancer treatment had failed, and there was nothing else left to try.

Why do I tell you all of this? Why do I want you to feel bad and cry? I think it is because I don’t cry enough. I need to be moved. I want to feel more. I want to feel love, and the pain of my loss, and be struck through the heart so deeply that I stop caring so much about my petty ego and my frivolous wants. I want to be moved to help many others. I want to find those who need a friend, just the way that Julie did, and the way you have. I want to set aside my vanities, and my pursuits of having to be better than the next guy.   I want to help many others, and not just my friends.  Writing has helped me feel more, and cry more. And I hope reading it helped you feel and cry more.  Being moved to tears brings us closer, and makes us look deeper inside ourselves and others.  Tears bring empathy and compassion.  Tears help us feel better, and even laugh stronger.

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Bittersweet, dancing at Kendall’s and Hannah’s wedding, Aug 2017, four months before passing

Make no mistake, Julie was very afraid to suffer, to hurt.  She was very afraid to leave her children and me.  These fears were opposing.  She constantly chose to face the suffering rather than death and separation.  There was a courage in that.  The beauty of Julie’s courageous life and struggle, is that we are all better for it.  I will be better, you will be better.  I hope she can see that.

Julie and I believe in Jesus Christ. I am glad it is Christmas! We are celebrating the birth of the Son of God. Jesus is a gift. Our salvation. It is a mystery, how it happens, but through the death of Jesus Christ, we are saved. We are reborn. We are lifted to help others. We are bound together as families. Think of all the beauty there is in the world, all because of the courage of Jesus, and his struggle in life and death.

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Christmas 2015, 2 years ago, hot cocoa with her babies

My friends. You are so good. You are so kind. I love you. I will try to do unto others as you have done unto me.

Julie was a marvelous example.   She was a perfect wife to me. Jesus is our perfect example. He is the way. He has made it happen, that I will get to be with Julie again. I love Him for that. And I love you my precious wife, Julie.

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5 thoughts on “Fear or Courage

  1. Thank you for sharing so much of your heart Brad. These posts have been heartwrenching and uplifting. I have smiled…and cried thinking of you and Julie and your sweet family.
    I hope this is not truly your final post. I think it helps all of us in so many ways. I would like to know how you are doing. I would like to hear about your insights and breakthroughs along the way. I would like to have an update on the boys now and then…
    Bless your heart

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  2. Julie is so blessed to have met you years ago. You have Been a blessing in our lives. This post once again finds me in tears. Oh how I miss my visits and her. Grateful like you for Gods great plan of salvation. Love ya brad

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  3. Thank you Brad. Please continue to write. You have a wonderful way of expressing feeling and emotions most of us don’t know how to communicate. Hopefully it has been beneficial to you as well in the process. What a beautifully recorded legacy!

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  4. Thank you for bringing me to tears time and time again. I agree with you…tears bring empathy, pain, love, compassion and so much more. We love you guys and love reading your posts. Thank you for sharing your life with us.

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  5. Please keep writing. I sought out comfort this evening and came to read about my life long friend.
    We all still get a little piece of her through the sharing of your adventures and eternal love.
    Much love to you Brad and your family.

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