Not long after we moved here several weeks went by without my seeing her. When I saw her again she was extremely pale. She knew that I was a nurse and she told me she had just completed another round of chemo. She had multiple myleoma.
She was a talented artist and teacher and established an AP art program during her thirty years of teaching art. She belonged to an artist co-op and showed and sold her work.
This is a card she painted for my husband when he was the injured player.
Inside she wrote that she hoped he would be on his feet the way he wanted to be; hence the big shoes on the whimsical duck. The water color is painted on scrap and glued in place.
She was one of the most upbeat people I have known. Deeply religious and not afraid to die she didn't want to go any sooner than she had to. So she endured treatment after treatment; complication after complication. She would keep me posted on the latest experimental protocol her oncologist had found. She always found something to laugh about no matter how bad the treatment or the complication. When she died she was working on a book of cartoons about her experiences as a cancer patient. She found humor even in dealing with cancer.
She appreciated and thoroughly enjoyed every respite she received from the wicked disease. When she was too weak to walk two blocks, she walked one. When she was too weak to do the shopping she went to the grocery store with her husband and sat at the coffee kiosk while he did the shopping. She fell in love with her iPad because it allowed her to do things so much more easily when she wasn't feeling well. Like me, she read a lot and often gave me recommendations for new books to read.
During her good periods she volunteered at a local charity that provides food, clothing and other services to people in need. She was active in her church work. Whenever someone in our neighborhood was not feeling well, she would appear at the door with her delicious date bread, a smile and a prayer.
Recently she developed kidney failure, not uncommon for people with multiple myeloma. Having exhausted all other treatment options she decided that twelve years living with this disease was long enough. She decided not to undergo dialysis and she died peacefully surrounded by her family.
This was her smile. Genuine and always there.
Godspeed, dear Julie. I will miss you.