My best friend Julia died this past March of terminal cancer.
She was 45.
She was an Ironman athlete, a marathon runner, and had an incredible zest for life.
She was my forever encourager. She was endlessly proud of me for my athletic achievements, my volunteer efforts, my career, and my parenting.
But now she’s not here. And my heart aches for her.
I started a new job in September. I wish I could tell her about it. I wish that she had been here to help me pick out new clothes for work. She would have loved that. I wish she had been here to help calm my nerves because she knew that I’m not good with change, even if it’s positive.
But she wasn’t.
I joined a roller derby team shortly after she died. I wish she was here to see me, her kind Shells, playing a full-contact sport and absolutely loving it. She would have been ecstatic to see me pursuing derby. She had this incredible faith in me. She really believed that I could do anything I put my mind to.
But I can’t tell her about it. She can’t come to my first scrimmage. She won’t be there on the sidelines with her big smile and bright eyes cheering for me.
The last text I got from her before she died said, “I can’t tell you how excited I am for you guys.” This was in reaction to me texting her a few photos of my partner Kevin and I out bowling. After seeing me go through a divorce 7 years ago, she was always rooting for my happiness. She only met Kevin once, but once was enough. She adored him and she loved us together.
But now I can’t tell her just how right she was about us. I can’t tell her that I love him in a way I have never loved a romantic partner. It’s healthy, safe, and comforting love. But there are no opportunities now for double dates. There are no more chances for her to get to know the most important person in my life (besides my daughter) because she’s gone.
At her memorial, one of her sisters said something so powerful that immediately made me cry. She said, “If this deep grief is the price I pay for loving Julia, I’m glad to pay it.”
Lately, I have been paying the price of grief every moment of every day.
And I will keep paying it, for the rest of my life, because I loved her.