Julianna’s Tea Party

Three weeks ago, we celebrated Julianna’s life in the only way we knew how: we threw a tea party.

Julianna loved tea parties and hosted dozens of them in her almost six years (mostly imaginary, but she was never one to be burdened by reality…). And, of course, she was supposed to go to a tea party at her school the day she took an awful turn.

We wanted a big, beautiful, colorful explosion of joy. It had to be a little too much, because that’s how she was. We knew that children would be there, and we wanted them to be comfortable. Of course there would be sadness and tears, but we wanted them to know that they didn’t have to be afraid, that it was OK to play. Julianna would have insisted on it.

The entire event was held in the lobby of our church. When people walked in, they saw this:


Grandpa came up with this. It was a surprise for me, and it made me smile. 


And this:

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For more on therapy/awkward unicorn, see the end of my last post


The tone was set.

Next to the awkward unicorn, there was a table with tons of paper hearts.

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The Sharpies were various shades of pink and purple. 


We asked people to write a note to Julianna:

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And put it on this tree. It’s a Korean dogwood, and it will bloom pink flowers in the spring. It will have a home in our front yard. (I can’t think of anything more perfect than a Korean-American tree with pink flowers. )


Heart notes to Julianna


Probably the most spectacular station (if only for sheer number of items) was this:

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As J would say: “Don’t judge! They’re just toys...”


We invited kids (and adults) to take them home.

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Julianna’s toys were her treasure, but she was generous. I think this made her smile. 


But we made it clear: there are expectations.

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If you have one of J’s toys, remember this always!


There was food:

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Even though J couldn’t eat, she talked about food all the time. No egg salad (or other smelly food) was allowed.


And a cupcake bar:

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And some of our favorite pictures:


Captions were done as though it was a museum display. Pink easels were courtesy of Grandpa.


Julianna was planning to be a Romanian princess for her school tea party. The dress was displayed here:


The little silver cup was one that she decorated to take to the school tea party. The hanging teapots — Grandpa again.


Julianna’s class made these wonderful decorations:

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You can also see their yearbook page, and it includes J’s picture. 


This was Julianna’s Every Flavor Teapot. In her tea parties, she only served fantastic and special flavors such as strawberry, marshmallow and chocolate pudding tea.

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The drawing is the one J decorated for her school tea party. Every color so that none felt left out. 


We asked people to write down their favorite tea:



Julianna always had a killer manicure, so we had to have a nail bar:

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I saw many guests running around with ten different colors on their fingernails. They looked happy.


And her dresses…they had to be there too:

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I’m not sure how many attended, but it was a lot. Dear friends flew in from all around the country. It touched our hearts to see the love for our Julianna.


We sang J’s favorite song (“Hark the Herald”). We read the last three pages from Julianna’s Adventures — the ones that tell us that she was not afraid. We watched a video presentation that always makes me smile and cry. My God, she was beautiful…and so happy. Steve talked about why Julianna loved her toys so much — it was all about making a connection. I read a letter to Julianna. It was about love.

People were surprised that we pulled it off . Everything was on a grand scale, and there were lots of details. For this, we have our wonderful friends and family to thank. It was a labor of love, and Julianna would have been proud — and delighted. It was perfect.


After the tea party, my family went on a little adventure.

We got some ice cream.


And went to Harper’s Playground:

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The ride took longer than three seconds, though, and we didn’t stop for lemonade.

Note: if you have no idea what I’m talking about, get a copy of Julianna’s Adventures. It was close to her heart, and all proceeds will benefit CMTA.



27 thoughts on “Julianna’s Tea Party

  1. What a beautiful celebration of LIFE! I am specially moved by the toy adoption, a fantastic idea.
    May your hearts be comforted knowing she is resting in the care of the God of All Comfort, II Corinthians 1:3-5


  2. Wow wow wow! What a wonderful afternoon Michelle. You did Princess Julianna proud, in fact I am sure that even she would have been amazed at such an awesome event. You obviously put so much thought and effort into every aspect of the afternoon, no detail was spared. I can see that your beautiful, kind loving daughter will live on forever in everything that you do. Big hugs to you Michelle and your family you really are amazing 💖 X


  3. What a precious, special pink and purple tribute to Julianna! As I toasted, with my cup, here in Colorado, I had no idea how spectacular her real tea party was. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your pictures with us.

    I’m so glad you had a ton of people in attendance to appreciate all the hard work and creativity you put into this day to honor J. The nail bar and the dresses had me in tears afresh, thinking about how I would feel if it were my Daughter. I wish I could hug you all, you are amazing.


  4. What a wonderful celebration of Julianna’s life! I love how you guys did the tea party! Especially the text from Heaven from Julianna, the “treasure” adoptions, and the nail bar.


  5. Thank you for sharing this wonderful tea party with us! It looks like you couldn’t have done a better job of celebrating Julianna’s life!

    I have been wondering how you and your family are doing, and especially how Alex is feeling. I was struck by the piece you shared earlier–about Alex realizing that shared grief is a gift. Even though our grief is a tiny drop in the ocean you, Steve, and Alex are experiencing, please make sure Alex knows there are readers around the world who continue to think about and miss Julianna, who are sad that she is gone, and who are praying for him and the rest of your family.


  6. Just sayin’ it would have been MY dream tea party, I giggled at the toy adoption rules! (what … didn’t Miss Julianna know that too much TV gives her toys bad eyesight too? Nevermind, I suppose she sent them off to Dr J who probably had a prescription for it. Like, idk, strawberry ice cream – or something!!)

    I would have loved to be there – had I been there (hypothetically – too far haha.), I imagine myself giggling at all the Julianna-isms (like rules of toy caretaking), yet eating pink cupcakes with tears running down my cheeks – because I’m glad she is in Heaven where God will take care of her, & she has no more machines and icky stuff. But .. being on this side – I miss her in the here & now, waiting to be able to see her again is like .. well, in her words, it requires patience, which is boring. Haha.

    It sounded so pink, so carefully planned (there’s toys to play if you want to play, but also a Therapy Unicorn if you want to cry – I think it’s perfect, given that there were young children …) – sounded like a birthday party! I suppose that’s what it kind of is, bcos that’s technically her arrival-in-heaven-birthday …

    Love the Harper’s Playground part as well hehehe I understood that immediately! So sweet. Thanks for sharing a peek of the real Harper’s Playground with international readers like me who probably won’t be going there any time soon!

    This is beautiful ❤ ❤ ❤


  7. What a marvelous,joyful celebration of Julianna’s life….There were so many loving reminders of Julianna,that even from viewing over the Internet…..her presence was there along with a great abundance of love…..the tea party certainly was a most special day for Julianna and all those who loved her….it will never be forgotten…..


  8. A wonderful tribute to a very special little girl, Julianna is missed all over the world. God bless all of you for making a beautiful day in her memory. From Pedro,Sujin, and Jessica.


  9. Julianna wa blessed with a big loving family, I miss her so much but feel happy that she’s in a better place. Thank you for sharing with us I cherish every picture. You are wonderful! I will never forget her!👸🏻


  10. Wonderful. Funny thing, I’m not a girly girl but I didn’t realize how much pink and purple I now have on things. All due to your daughter! Maybe I’ll be a girly girl after all. Thank you for the updates. They are so welcome. Praying for you all.


  11. Beautiful!!Just as Julianna – Beautiful! I always had tea parties as a child and I still have my treasured tea set. I love reading about Julianna – I look forward to your post and wish I were there. You make me feel right there. Thank you for sharing. I am blessed to have you as my friend – and more importantly to have Julianna in my life. Love to all the superheros!


  12. Oooooh thank you!!!!! So fun seeing all the pics and explanation…..Thx for including us in all of your adventure……love to you all!


  13. Perfect, beautiful celebration for a beautiful child. Her presence radiates throughout the world in the people that she’s touched.


  14. Your tea party in Julianna’s honor was truly a world-class event that I’m sure Julianna was proud of
    as well as myself and all of her friends and followers. The heart felt planning, preparation and presenta
    tion down to every detail was simply amazing. Thank you for sharing it with us.
    I hope all is will at this most difficult time for all especially Alex.
    All the very best and God Bless,
    03 July 2016, Sunday


  15. Such an accomplishment.. I love every aspect, every detail. Playful, deeply thoughtful. Touching, heart-wrenching, yet reassuring. Just the best tea party ever.

    While it boggles the mind, what you pulled together, we know you had the greatest inspiration in Julianna and her imagination.

    And of course her imagination was created and nurtured by.. you, her family.

    Thus.. a spectacular celebration, but not really so surprising.

    Thank you so much for continuing to share. It helps those of us grieving and celebrating at a distance and I trust that it helps you as well.


  16. Dear Michelle,
    I have tears in my eyes reading about your beautiful, thoughtful celebration of life for Julianna. It was truly phenomenal, just like your family. What a tribute to your little pink princess. They say that love is in the details and there was so much love at that tea party! J would have approved and have been delighted to see so many loved ones sharing in her sparkly, colorful magic. Love is in the details and no detail was forgotten. J won’t be either… her superpowers love on in all of you.
    Big hugs,


  17. Like everyone else.. Thank you for sharing. Just beautuful. I think of Julianna and your family everyday. Sending you lots of hugs and prayers.


  18. To echo many here, thank you for sharing. This must not have been easy to coordinate such an event but form the looks of it, it was wonderful. I especially like all the efforts you put into making kids feel OK about taking Julianna’s toys and celebrating her life. Well done. You are in my prayers.


  19. First, I just want to say THANK YOU for still letting us into your lives. This was beautiful and I can just see her face with a huge smile. Every little detail of the “Tea Party” was just amazing. I wish I could reach you and give you all hugs. ~ Always in my thoughts and prayers….. Tammy


  20. Beautiful celebration. Julianna really touched a lot of people’s hearts. She was really special. I look forward to reading your blogs and hope your family finds comfort in this tough situation. Julianna has really touched my heart. She has taught me a lot about life. I read her book to my daughter every night, thank you it is a beautiful book by Julianna. I feel special to have a piece of her. She truly was a bright light!!!❤️❤️


  21. Just wanted to say that I thought the tea party was an absolutely perfect way to celebrate Julianna’s LIFE. As much as her passing hurts for those who loved and cared for her, she made a HUGE impact in a very short time on everyone who knew her. And, in my case (and for many others here), I only really got to know her through what you shared here with the world–and I know that’s more limited than what you experienced every day making moments with her. Regardless, she came across as an AMAZING person. And that’s a reflection of your entire family and all the nurturing you provided her under those very difficult circumstances. I think God trusts very special people with very special things that ultimately shape their lives in profound ways. And I think he entrusted Julianna to you, Steve, and Alex for reasons that will help carry all of you through your own lives until you see her again..


    • “Do not stand at my grave and weep,
      I am not there. I do not sleep.
      I am a thousand winds that blow.
      I am the diamond glints on Snow.
      I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
      I am the gentle autumn rain.
      When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
      I am the swift, uplifting rush,
      Of quiet birds in circled flight.
      I am the soft stars that shine at night.
      Do not stand at my grave and cry;
      I am not there. I did not die.”
      –Mary Elizabeth Frye


  22. The most beautiful celebration of life I have ever seen. My prayers are with your family during this time of grief. Juliana’s life has touched my so deeply. Thank you for sharing her with all of us.


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