Life is an Adventure – Part I

There is a certain freedom that comes after you’ve endured a monstrous loss. When you’ve gone through the worst, is there anything left to fear?

As it turns out, yes. Anniversaries, holidays, social gatherings, polite conversation, fading memories – all terrifying.

For months, June 14th loomed large and ominous. What are you supposed to do on the anniversary of your child’s death?

The answer to this terrible question is as individual as a fingerprint. For me, one thing was clear: We would have to go away. And considering the thing we were escaping from, it would have to be big.



Has it really been one year? .


Enter Italy and Switzerland.

Switzerland, because my mom has wanted to go there. Italy, because I found only one guided travel package that would get us to Switzerland around the right time, and it started in Italy.

My spirits lifted as we made the reservations. It would be a grand adventure. Julianna would definitely approve!



A few months later, I regretted it. Travel requires stamina and an open spirit; grief is exhausting. I felt like spending June 14th in bed.

Fortunately, the deposit was nonrefundable.


Julianna’s First Heaven Day


The group tour was set to start on 16 June. To accomplish my goal of being AWAY on 14 June, we flew into Milan a few days early.

Breakfast at the hotel looked more like a tea party.


This may have been Alex’s favorite experience in Milan…


We visited the Duomo, Milan’s massive gothic cathedral.



(It reminded me a little of this picture — the Duomo is not subtle…)


“Too much is never enough” — one of my favorite Juliannaisms.


We lit a candle in front of the picture of the Madonna and Child.



And learned that it is the only cathedral in Europe that is made of pink marble — who would have thought?



We also saw a castle.



Sforza Castle, built in the 15th century by the Duke of Milan.




Alex did log rolls in a former moat.


Then I spent the rest of the day in bed nursing my jet lag and my grief. I listened to recordings of our sweet girl and I missed her, just as I have every second of every minute of every day that she’s been gone.

Like the love that causes it, grief never stops. You have to make room for it, even when you are halfway around the world on the trip of a lifetime.


Part II is coming soon…



15 thoughts on “Life is an Adventure – Part I

  1. Julianne would approve.. She would have wanted flowers on that tea tray, of course!

    Some down time was wise, but going was also wise.

    She is missed in so many places, by so many people she touched.


  2. Michelle,
    Thank you for sharing with all of Julianna’s friends. I think the long distance trip to Switzerland and
    Italy was a wonderful idea. I look forward to hearing more in “Life is an Adventure-Part II” soon. I
    still have Julianna’s photo as the screensaver on my cellphone, see her photo thru out every day,
    think of her every day and pray for her every night.
    May God continue to bless Julianna, you, Steve and Alex,
    01 July 2017


  3. wow. big fancy holiday – sounds cool. (cos Julianna liked fancy/was fancy!)

    But what makes it Julianna-ist (? Julianna-isque? … regardless. J wouldn’t have cared about adult complications like finding a Correct Fancy Word to describe herself, as long as the essence of J was captured well), is that tea party (!), pink marble (!), etc etc.

    And that Duomo thing vs J’s castle – yup, I think it would have been instant approval, the resemblance is uncanny!

    But also, wow this was one big wild thing to do!!! But I think, conventionally inappropriate as it seems, it is totally Julianna-appropriate. And she would have been so proud of all of you, especially with all the Julianna coincidences (or not, ha) as you have described about the trip.

    Jet lag is evil. Evil jetlag aside, hope it gave you(r family) space to breathe/grieve/have a bit of family fun/be fancy, all in one. Looking forward to part 2 xx


  4. I am sure Julianna is smiling as you travel and reminisce about her……so enjoy following you and your family of this journey of living🏵👩💗💔


  5. that was a brave and courageous decision but perfect for the anniversary of her passing. I’m sure she was dancing with delight. I think you should do this every year – take her on an adventure that you couldn’t accomplish while she was here, She may be physically absent from your lives, but her indomitable spirit lives on and continues to shower you with love. Because love is a superpower and it will never die. Hugs.


  6. So glad you are having an adventure; I think adventure is food for the soul! As painful as some/most days seem and likely always will on some level, your family’s future holds thousands of wonderful memories yet to be made and savored. Blessings on the joy and the sadness both.

    Always with much aloha!


  7. Michelle,
    My heart aches for you.
    But everyone else is right. Julianna’s fingerprints are all over this trip.
    I’m sure the delicious breakfast tea party with Alex was her idea, too.
    Much love,


  8. There is no handbook for grief. No checklist to clear. So if flying to Milan is your answer to the anniversary congratulations on seizing the moment, but also for understanding that it’s ok to grieve in Italy. I do like Alex’s shirt in the tea party photo. It’s amazing you chose the one place with a pink marble cathedral. …

    God is watching over you and your family.


  9. Hi Michelle and family! It is so great to read about your adventure! Learning of the only cathedral in Europe that is made of pink marble is not something happens every day! Depending on belief systems, you were either destined to find the castle, or you found it for some other reason. Either way, what an interesting find!
    A change from routine is nice! Even the change in the date that you make a blog entry…it is nice to see. I was wondering if you would make a blog entry any other day than the 14th, and it is so nice to see that you did. Routine and order have a place of course, but there is nothing quite as liberating as doing something different. An adventure is a liberation from the routine.
    When you walk into a room, walk into it as if it were the first time. Look around as if it were the first time you walked into the room! Such an exercise has purpose-, it teaches liberation from routine. It is interesting how J teaching others imagination is the same as centuries-old discipline such as
    ISBN 0-8348-0079-9 .
    Adventure and imagination are from within one’s own mind. Why let things such as routine and worldly matters get in the way? Life can be an adventure and life can be a liberation from self-inflicted limitations and hurt. J knew the power that started in her mind- she knew the power of imagination.
    Michelle, may every day be an adventure for you and your family! 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s