She would have been seven today.

If only her nerves worked. (Not the metaphorical ones that are equated with bravery. Those, she had in abundance and they worked just fine.)

If only they were able to carry the signals from her remarkable brain down to her arms and to her legs. Where would she have gone? How hard would she have hugged?

If they had done their job, the muscles she needed to breathe would have been strong, and she would…not even notice.  Because breathing should be effortless. What would her laugh have sounded like?

If those stupid nerves worked, she would be here now. There would be cake, and it would be pink and she would be able to eat it with her own hands. She would swirl around in a flouncy dress and tear open presents (Or maybe not. She never let us rip up wrapping paper. She couldn’t hurt anything that she found beautiful, and to her, most things were beautiful.) She would run around, fueled by a little extra sugar and an abundance of love. It would be what every little girl should experience on the day she turns seven.

Instead, she is five. She will always be five, except for the times I think about her at two weeks (the most wonderful peach fuzz baldness), four months (COLIC!) or two years (sparkling eyes). She will always be my baby and my big little girl; never a teenager, never an adult.



I have always loved bald babies.


In between rounds of colic. She looks deceptively sweet here…


Trying on her flower girl dress. Her gold walker is in the background. She is almost two here, and I was sure that she’d be able to walk down the aisle if we worked hard enough. We did — and then worked hard to turn a wagon into a cloud-like carriage fit for a princess-to-be.

Maybe it’s a waste of time to think about the “if onlys.” It’s like reasoning with a thunderstorm or asking gravity to take a little break.

Julianna body was her Achille’s heel.  We propped it up, outsourced what we could to machines and coaxed it along, but it was a losing proposition. The problem was in the DNA, and it could not be fixed by twenty-first century science: my heartbreak was guaranteed.

And so was my joy, as long as I let her in – just a little bit.

For a while, I tried to resist. Her disease was a beast. We threw everything we could at it, but it only grew stronger. At my lowest point, the little girl lying in the bed — the one who couldn’t even scratch her own nose without my help — terrified me. She would leave me one day, and I would be broken.

And yet, I couldn’t help myself. She was so easy to love.  You just had to take her hand and say “yes” — yes to her brightness and her beautiful way of seeing the world. She made me better, in so many different ways.

Love was her superpower and it overcame my fear.

It hurts — in a way I cannot yet describe – not getting to seven (or ten or forty five).  But love is stronger than the pain and bigger than the emptiness — every second of every day.

Even on the day that she would have been seven.




29 thoughts on “Seven


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy Birthday, Julianna! I can only imagine how heaven looks today! You have everyone weariing sparkly pink dresses and fluffy decorated hats. Even the boys, because its heaven and you can have just what you love all the time! Cake and treats and unicorns and smiles… and extra “heaven hugs” for those who stayed behind on earth, who never stop loving you, who will smile and cry on your 7th birthday, who will see you again one day after the long wait. Happy Birthday to your beloved family who has somehow lived without your physical presence all these months, who loves you beyond anyone and anything else in heaven. That’s what families do. Yours is the best at it. LOVE…it’s a superpower and you gave your family the most super of all powers…LOVE beyond all earthly LOVE. You are deeply missed, dear one, even by those of us who never met you. You bring joy and a deep intention to LOVE every moment of our day, love each other more than ever. You sprinkle LOVE everywhere. When I read or hear of good things happening, I think, “Ahhh, Julianna is sprinkling LOVE around our whole world, here and there, in moments we never hear of, in places we never go”. You are here in those acts and thoughts of LOVE . LOVE is a superpower because you are that LOVE. Blessings to you and your family on this special day…forever 5, but today 7! I am 67 but today I shall be 7, and I shall dance and eat pink cake for you today!


  3. Happy Birthday Julianna💗💕💞…..I look at the world with a little more passion, smiles, hugs…..I am a better person because of your writings and following your Mother’s blogs…..

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  4. You wrote it so beautifully. I can only hope she lives in a another world without pain, without worries, healthy, jumping up and down, running around, who knows .. maybe playing with my little girl.

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  5. HAPPY HEAVENLY BIRTHDAY TO J!!!!! You are forever one of my heroes, you changed my life, made me look at life different, I think of you often, to J’s mom, BIG HUG TO YOU. You are a mom FULL of LOVE AND SUPERPOWERS !!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Happy 7th Birthday Julianna! Your special day is on my calendar and when it popped up today, the message said “Do something fabulous!” So, today, I am doing something fabulous! I am going to my eldest daughter’s house to paint a chest of drawers for her nursery! You see, my daughter is going to have TWIN GIRLS – and they will be TOTAL PRINCESSES…just like you. And, as a total princess yourself, I thought I’d share with you that their nursery is in the most beautiful shade of pink…with accents of light grey…very pretty. And, of course, there are Disney princesses everywhere. At their baby shower last week, the guests we asked to bring a book. So, I gave them books that they will use when they are three. The books are Snow White and Cinderella (they even have a cutout figure and stickers). I thought of you when I picked them out.

    I know your mommy is hurting terribly today, Julianna…so…please do something fabulous for her. Give her the best memory you can think of…she will think of it, too. Love and prayers to you and beautiful family, Julianna.. I’ll have a FABULOUS day in your honor!

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  7. Julianna was like a celestial event.. A comet, a 🌈 rainbow, an eclipse.. All too brief, but never forgotten.

    What an impact she had!

    I got my blue t-shirt 👕 with Love is a superpower on the back and have worn it twice already This week.

    She would have been a spectator 7 year old, without question.

    Sending out hugs to all who miss her 💜👸

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  8. Happy Birthday sweet Julianna 💟 We love your t-shirts! We love wearing and sharing about Love is a Super Power! We think of you all often, God Bless Your Hearts 🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Happy Birthday sweet little angel 👧🏻 💞Your beautiful little face and smiled will always be remembered 💘 Heaven will be such a pretty happy place with you there but I know you 💕will always be in your mummy’s 💗 Wherever she goes xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh Julianna, we miss your sweet smile and everything else about you. So blessed and privileged that you passed thru our lives. Love is a superpower. I will never forget you, nor your mom and dad, sweet brother Alex and Awkward Unicorn!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What you say never fails to touch my heart. Thank you for sharing your journey and most of all sharing Julianna with the world. She had love enough for us all.


  12. I literally can not even find the words to say to you Michelle, Steve and Alex. Not at the moment anyway. Just that J would want you to erase pain when it is too much. It would be a command of her wand and you would feel a little better.


  13. Julianna Yuri (Princess Julianna) next to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the most genuine and sincere person I have ever gotten to know. My world is literally not the same; meaning listening to the things Julianna said had the ability to change a bad day into a good day! Julianna’s prospective on life allowed you to focus on “what’s most important” in life. Oh, how I miss hearing Julianna’s perspectives on “anything”! She had the most kindest and generous heart. I will forever be grateful to you Michelle, for writing out of your HEART those wonderful life changing blogs to us, over the last year. I think with all my heart you needed to write those blogs, and every single word you wrote in them. The words, pictures and thoughts written were a great testament to the life and times of Julianna and our memories of her (through your writings), will never be forgotten! All the individuals (every one of us) who had the honor and privilege of coming in contact with Julianna’s life aren’t the same people we were, prior to knowing her, that is a fact! She has left an “Eternal-(FOREVER LASTING) Imprint” upon my heart.

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  14. My shell phone and internet have been fickle with many problems getting in my way of attaining my exeutor-ship papers to get my mother’s estate settled since she too went to Heaven and I have been a bad friend to you. Please forgive me. I have never had Juliana far from me. None of you have ever been regardless of what was going on around me. Even this year when I scattered Mom’s ashes, we mentioned Julianna whom I know is having a tea party with her Grandmother & my mom (because she loved “miniature” tea parties too!) and occasionally swimming in the ocean as a real mermaid, or flying as a mini Wonder Woman because she was always a princess anyway! I have a song that makes me think of her! It’s by Celtic Woman. She saw more, was able to change more and imagine more from just her home and her bedroom than most of us do in our whole lives. The song is called “The Whole Of The Moon!” She lived in her own fairy tale world that let her reach places the rest of us could never hope to reach. She reached into hearts that others couldn’t or wouldn’t. She reminded us of beauty and how to find it! We saw only the crescent, but she saw the whole of the moon!
    Loving and praying for you all every day! EVERY DAY!


  15. Hi! Hope all is well with you, Steve, Grandma and Alex! Well, you know…as well as things can be of course.
    I find myself wondering if you are done with blog entries, speaking for everyone else, we are not even started to be ready to accept that Michelle is done with blogging. Not even started to be ready for that…nooooo way 🙂 Michelle is the best blogger ever. Woo woo. 🙂

    So another season of winter will be here. Seasons do not stop for anyone…for anything. It is unreal how time passes so fast. So a girl @arksara on twitter lost her brother, and I always remember something she said. She said in a video that up in heaven, our lifetimes here on earth must feel like less than a minute to people in heaven. If time goes on forever, that has to be true. Makes sense to me 🙂

    Sending love to you and your family Michelle, and don’t you dare forget to look for joy in each day. Even if it is just a tiny bit of joy… there has to be some somewhere in each day 🙂 There simply has to.


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