Before the Morning

Christmas and Mother’s Day are brutal, but they don’t compare to the day she left or the day she came. 

On July 4th, I remember her last. We wheeled her out and watched her eyes light up, brighter than the skies above. 

Halloween makes me think of an elephant and a cowgirl.  Cinderella in a rock-star pink motorized carriage, driving it herself. 


Green was not one of her favorite colors, but she went all out on St. Patricks’ Day because it was an opportunity  to celebrate (and accessorize). 


Back to school is hard, because she loved it so. Thanksgiving too, because it is my family’s big holiday. January 10th was the first day of her most awful hospital admission, but it’s also the day she got her Make-A-Wish princess room. 

Spring makes me think of the annual tulip festival. She wore pink socks and tulip pants and was engulfed by beauty. I’m grateful for this moment, but don’t think I can ever go back to see the tulips.

Every holiday and every season bring out another facet of grief that’s as individual and specific as the person we mourn and the moment we miss. Sometimes it’s a sledgehammer, sometimes just sweet melancholy. Always, there is emptiness.

Easter is the exception; it’s the only day that is better now.


When I faced the awful truth, that part of my motherhood would require carrying Julianna to her end, there was despair and pain too strong and too deep for anything to reach – except for love. Mine for her, hers for me, and at the center of it and surrounding us both, Love. 

More than anyone else I have ever known, Julianna lived for and through love. When we started following her lead, things changed in an instant. We lived with intent; there was no time to waste.  We were still scared, but love was our weapon against fear, so her last eighteen months were glorious.  She thrived even as her body failed, and we lived a miracle: joy in the face of deepest pain. 

I have come to realize that Julianna was never mine to keep. She belonged to the Father who created her and the Son who saved her and the Spirit who shone so radiantly and unmistakably through her. 

She belonged to another place too, the place where there is no end,  where everything is as it was meant to be. She’s there now, running free.

Easter is not so much Easter to me now. It’s Resurrection Sunday, a promise that there is an end to all that is so deeply amiss in this world.

When it’s done, I’ll see her again — and she’ll run to me.

“The dream is ended- this is the morning.” 
― C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle


J — Do you want me to stand in front of the house and in front of all the people so that you can see me first?

M — Yes. I’ll be so happy to see you.

J — Will you run to me?

M — Yes. And I think you will run to me, too

J — I’ll run fast! (shakes her head back and forth to show me how fast she will run)

M — Yes, I think you will run so fast.




22 thoughts on “Before the Morning

  1. Thanks for sharing, miss her so much. She had such a way with holidays & celebrations. Eden carries around her hair ties even though she won’t put them on her head for long, bc they are her inherited “hair toys” . Evan is turning 5, and it makes my heart jolt to remember Julianna at 5. Love you guys so much!


  2. Just so beautiful. It brought me to tears. I have realized how precious life is and how each moment counts. Thank you for all your posts and beautiful Pictures of Julianna. What an angel 💗💗💗💜💜💜


  3. Michelle, this is so beautiful. She was the most joyful and beautiful girl, and I’m so thankful you were able to share her, through your writing, with so many people.


  4. I think about you all every holiday because I wonder if it’s a sledgehammer or melancholy. Your stories of J warm my heart. She was so special. I raise my daughter with love like Julianna’s.


  5. I wish I could share your words with others. Your words affect me so deeply with the love you all shared. God bless you all, always in my heart and prayers headed your way.


  6. Happy Easter Monday! He is risen! Julianna, in her restored and perfect body, is with Him and I know in my soul, she will run to you and your loving arms, when it is your time to leave this earth. God is Love and Love is a superpower!


  7. Nothing you feel is wrong. Please try to keep room for evolving your truths though. Everyone has many truths, some are good to cling to, others not so much. It is saddening to hear that you can not go by the Tulip festival – that is your truth and no one on the planet could tell you that you are wrong. Deceased loved ones would want us to feel joy in life, not strife tho. There is a greater truth in joy- and it seems like J lived knowing that, and it seems like J would want everyone to live each day feeling the magic, the joy, the wonder. No one can help you feel better about such a traumatic experience dear friend-, they can try to remind you to save room in your truths 🙂 Stay Strong


  8. Hi again to you and your awesome family. Today, whatever truths y’all hold in your hearts, look for wonder, joy, magic somewhere…if even for a brief moment. Our truths should not limit our growth.
    1) Never let any one else tell you what your truths are- what you feel is never wrong, it is just a reflection of where your mind currently is.
    2) Never let a somehow limiting or negative thought become a seemingly immovable truth. Self imposed limitations, bad feelings, yeah…we ALL have them. Temporary bad feelings or thoughts do not have to be seen as a lasting truth.
    3) Formless open mind way- Walk into each room as if it were the first time and look around. Dislike the color grey? Pretend you like the color, shift the mind to see the opposite points of view. What if everything you know is wrong? Did you limit yourself to what you think this day has to offer you, to what this day has for you to find? #3 is mostly zen type thinking, but it seems to profoundly help anyone evolve daily truths and find more joy in each day. —

    Let’s get real here. You and your family have been through more than most people could possibly understand or even begin to understand. All the daily in’s and outs of going through such a traumatic loss are beyond the scope of written words. You and your family have been through SO much. The insights and wisdom you hold are far beyond what anyone like me could ever fully understand. A very real truth i feel is that J is SO proud of all of you! 🙂 Stay Strong


  9. Dear Michelle, I have never written to you before because until a few hours ago, I didn’t know your precious Julianna. I just happened upon your blog and I have read it now from start to finish. I couldn’t stop reading it. Your daughter was incredible; unique; wise. And you are too. As a Mom, my heart aches for the pain you carry. And how I marvel at your ability to write through the pain and share Julianna with all of us. She continues to touch lives because you courageously share her with us. May your memories live on forever, and may they eventually bring you comfort and peace in abundance.


  10. Oh how my heart breaks for you and your family. Thank you so much for blogging about your very precious little Julianna and the loss you still suffer to this day. I am thankful that you and your family were able to be loved so deeply by her. I look forward to the day you get to run into eachothers arms. If the Lord is willing I would be honored to witness it. May God bless you!


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