The Bright shores of Heaven”

I may be the only person awake in the whole world just now, for all I know.  It is pitch dark out now. The moon lights up patches of earth, here and there.  The world is silent and almost cold in these hours before day.  With tomorrow being Thanksgiving, I am off today.  I had planned to write this morning, all along, for I am a “morning writer “. 
I had many thoughts in my head, for I had visited with Ryan and then at long last, had a weekend with Lyla and Brynn.  What bright days.  The leaves here have finally turned golden and scarlet – and apricot and the sweet gum has splashes of plum!  Some days the sky is as blue as a morning in May and other days it is a soft pewter.  I can not say, which days are loveliest, for I love them all.  I had intended to write my accounts of strolling with the grandchildren on a sidewalk under crimson maples -and later by an indigo river.  . . but something happened that changed everything. 
My dearest friend, Julie died yesterday.
I have written about Julie before  and she was always pleased, when I did.  The first time, I wrote about her, she was sure, that she was famous, at long last.  She read every comment.  Each one thrilled her and so I let Julie bask in her glory, with delight
I met Julie in that awful season of middle school.  My cousin “Cookie” was Julies’ friend and that is how I came to know her.  Julie had a coolness about her and it took years for me to know her.  By chance, we became neighbors later on, and we were soon “as thick as molasses in January.”  Our children were young then (and so were we).  Our lives were so entwined that the children seemed a joint commodity.  I worried over her daughter Haley, when she was having trouble with math and  I was distraught when little Katelyn had headaches.  Julies’ daughters attended a private school for a while, run by very religious Dutch folks.  Each year, the school celebrated their heritage with a festival.  Parents were to  make dishes from ancient recipes.  One year, Julie was to make an apple bread.  She handed me the recipe, for it was as much my problem as it was hers’ after all.  I read the thing and said”we will need a bushel  of apples and an entire day!  When I went back to help her bake, there was a case of some sort of “instant apple bread mixes” on the counter.  I felt guilty about her plan, but Julie did not in the least.  I will not tattle on the year she made fudge, for the whole school -and in an hour or so, of her time.  I could only hope, that it was eaten fast.   Julie doted on my children. . . and did so, up until her last hour.
Our friendship did not end, when the children grew up, nor when I moved to the rabbitpatch.  Julie spent many weekends here and loved the country, as much as I did.  We canned tomatoes together and peeled apples.  We ate beets and split pea soup .We discussed books . . many books.  In the winter, Julie and I would study subjects together.  We studied native American culture, religions of the world and all sorts of philosophies.  Julie was always an avid student of all things, and her brain was quick as lightening.  She was a firm believer in speaking her truth and did so every single chance she got.  Julie did not let me get by with poor judgement , whether I wanted to hear it or not.  . . and was quick to call me out on matters.  Oh what a craft, she had of  easing into something . .and then “BOOM!” she would spew out the truth like an exploding water pipe . . then she would tenderly wipe your tears.  Really, Julie was always right, when it came down to it.  She always accused me of being too soft hearted and I accused her of being  “salty” and “down right sassy” . . in this case we were both right.
We used to love thrift stores and some Saturdays we took off with about twenty dollars between us and came home with old china and books, somehow.  It was not uncommon, for us to show up at the check out with something for each other, for we knew each others’ taste, thoroughly.  One year we traded Christmas gifts wrapped in the same paper with the same fine soap inside. 
Can you believe that sometimes, as we drank coffee and ate cookies, that we would pretend entire scenarios ? -like children. It would start something like, “what if . . we lived in an old house of stone, in Vermont” . . and off we went on an adventure.  After we had invented grumpy  neighbors and a flock of orphaned children, we’d taken in and snow and  a warm hearth and a horse and sleigh . . well, we would burst into laughter at our childishness.  I don’t suppose that I know any other all grown up person, who would do that. 
When the grand children came along, Julie and I were as different as night and day, at grand mothering.  I was putting carrots in pancakes and Julie tossed hers a bag  of candy . . for lunch!  I was choosing poems for Lyla to memorize, while her parents were out and in Julies own words, she ‘was just trying to keep hers’ alive till their parents got back.” Make no mistake about it, Julie loved her grandchildren and declared them, her reason to live , often.
I could never keep any secret from Julie.  It seemed unnatural and somehow unholy.  Besides, Julie loved  me no matter what and I was confident of that.  In one of my worst tantrums, Julie asked me what was wrong  . . and I said with hot tears  “I hate everybody!” Julie said, “me, too, . . now what is wrong?”   
Julie suffered a lot in the last decade.  She had one heartbreak after another.  She had blood pressure problems which led to a stroke and blinded her temporarily.  Then she had kidney problems and ended up on dialysis.  She had her legs amputated a few years back, several more strokes- and was recovering  from a recent one. . .til at last, she did-fully and whole now , on she went.
Julie never complained.  It is still shocking to me, to consider that.  She may have been  a wild card ,  and she may have wielded truth with a heavy hammer, but she trusted God with her whole heart .   I  was constantly in awe of that and rendered speechless with her courage.  Julie was an “an act of valor”    Her battlefield was in her own backyard.
I wished I could say that I am so happy, that Julie and Daddy were in Heaven with great joy, . . . And yes, for goodness sakes, I know that I can still talk to them.  I will always be thankful, I had them and “they are still “with me” and “time heals all’ . . .but right this minute . . .  I am but a mere human.  Not enough time has passed. . . . and that “bright shore of Heaven” . . . seems so very far away.

40 thoughts on “The Bright shores of Heaven”

  1. Oh Michele, hot tears are steaming down my cheeks for you, for the loss of Julie your dear friend. You are right, mere platitudes can’t help much today – but it sounds like Heaven just received a straight-shooter, a giant of faithful friendship and love. My heart goes out to you & Julie’s family. May God’s peace comfort & may the legacy of her life & love live long in your heart. ✨🙏✨

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    1. oh, sear Virginia-your compassion touches me. You called Julie out with accuracy. I have laughed wondering at her entrance to Heaven! She KNEW she was Gods’ child and probably expected a red carpet. I will always miss her. thank you-love Michele

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  2. My wife’s lifelong friend Liz died this summer. They met when they were five.
    When trying to tell her how well I know her, I’d say to my wife, “I’ve had you thirty-nine years. That’s longer than your mother had you.”
    Alas, Liz had her for fifty-nine years.

    I stand in awe.

    Hugs to you.

    Scott

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  3. Julie sounded like an interesting character. It is always hard to lose a friend you hold so near and dear. Knowing she is in Heaven helps, but that still does not take away the pain. So glad you had Julie as your friend for so many years. May God help you with the pain and sorrow. Love and hugs to you Michele.

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  4. So sorry to read of the loss of your good friend, Michele. You had such a special, lifelong relationship that is all too rare in this world. Sad that she had serious health challenges that she struggled with– at least she is at peace now, smiling down at you and waiting until you can be together again.

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  5. Oh dear Michele, I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your dear friend Julie. We should all be so blessed to have such a friend. Sending you love and peace and a big hug this Thanksgiving ❤️

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  6. Oops! Sorry about posting that earlier comment without finishing it! Julie sounds like aN incomparable treasure. ❤️ I am so glad for your many joyful and meaningful memories but so sad you are now hurting as you experience life without her. I agree that pat answers when one is grieving often don’t take feelings of grief away, and grief has a purpose anyway. It Is a process we go through as we learn to live in a world without our loved ones. I do pray that God comforts you in your saddest (or maddest) moments with memories that make you smile, my wonderful cousin, and I pray you and I can have some laughing and imaginative times in the future, maybe by the laughing river or in the wild woods or at a table together with a good cup of coffee. I am no Julie, but I sure do love you. Thank you as usual for sharing your thoughts in such a way that you bring us right there with you. A beautiful Thanksgiving day to you my dearest cousin. ❤️

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  7. My sincere condolences for the loss of your precious friend. I also share a very similar friendship that I truly treasure. I could not help but smile when you wrote about the two of you making up pretend scenarios. We do the exact same thing starting with “Where are we today?” Aren’t you and I lucky to have experienced this type of love and friendship? So very much to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day! May we all take comfort in knowing that one day we will all be together again in the glory of heaven with those missing from our table. Peace and comfort to you as you deal with this loss my friend. ❤️

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  8. If I had a friend like Julie, I’d grieve hard and deep, for grief is just another word for love.
    Julie is not lonely where she is now. But just the same, I’ve asked my angel to go hold her hand for you.

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  9. Oh dear Michele, how sad that you lost such a dear friend. How great were her sufferings. She sounds like a force to be reckoned with and I know your heart must be breaking right now to think of the world without her. Sending you love and hugs and wishing you time to heal in quiet moments as you learn to live without her in this earthly realm.

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  10. Condolences from France Michele, I’m sorry for your loss. One minute at a time, then hours, then days at a time, a happy thought here, a chuckle there, all seasoned with tearful l moments somewhere interspersed. God bless you friend!

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  11. I’m so very sorry! You’ve had a tough time lately, and this must just feel overwhelming. I’ll be praying for you, as will your other friends and family. I hope you feel the strength of that, and can find some comfort in God’s grace…

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  12. Oh Michele…..I have no words. This life is so hard and sometimes our hearts do not agree with our heads and we do not agree with God when He takes a friend such as Julie. It might sound odd but I have found myself standing outside having very loud conversations with God upon occasion. It is one of the blessings of living where no one else can hear you.I have a feeling God understands and I know He is holding you through this very hard time. I will be praying.

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  13. I’m writing through my tears, Michele. To loose such a friend, a part of you has gone with her. I’ve never experienced a friendship like yours with Julie, and to read about it made me cry. I am so so sorry for your loss. This is a big one! I know God is holding you ever so tightly right now to help sustain you as you weep. I am praying for you, dear friend. For those left behind this is the hardest. Where are loved ones are, is the greatest!! xo

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