Thursday, February 9, 2012

For Julia

This morning via Facebook, I received news that my dear childhood friend Julia had passed away after a year-long struggle with cancer. Julia lived in San Diego, and I hadn't seen her in person since 2006, when the above photo was taken at our 10 year Solon High School reunion.

Julia and I met while attending religious school at Fairmount Temple, in either third or fourth grade. I liked her immediately - we were both the teacher's pets in our class, and she seemed exotic, being a Russian Jew. In fifth grade when my parents bought a new house in Solon, she was the only person I knew who lived there, and I desperately clung to that information. I remember eating lunch with her and her group of friends in those first few days at my new school, trying to figure out where I fit in there.

We continued to attend synagogue events together, even though I can't recall us being very close during middle school. But during this time, I know that Julia became seriously ill. Looking back now, it was probably cancer then too, but I didn't know it at the time. I knew she missed lots of school, and lost her hair, but I don't remember knowing how serious it probably was. She was just my friend, the kind of friend where you just picked up where you left off when you had to.

During our freshman year of high school we attended a conference in Washington, D.C. and I remember we were feeling pretty full of ourselves. We were excited for this big trip away, it was my first time in D.C., and we took giddy pictures of ourselves standing on the fence outside the White House and at the Lincoln Memorial. We got a little lost hanging around in Baltimore, but I remember not being worried. When Marc and I went to that same area years later, I remembered the peace I'd felt there with her.

We carpooled back and forth from Beachwood to Solon for years. We wrote articles together for our BBYO chapter newsletter, the Chaia Chailights. I will never forget her excitement over her family's adoption of their first dog, Ruby, who she loved like a sibling. We had a fabulous time catching up at our 10 year reunion, and she was one of the first people I looked for when I joined Facebook in 2008.

Julia became an accomplished dentist, and I sought her advice when Hannah developed "shark teeth" before her fifth birthday. She got in a couple of heated debates on my posts over the years, but I always respected what she had to say. I sincerely hoped that someday I would be able to visit her in San Diego, where she seemed to be very happy with her parents and sister.

Last August, after writing yet another blog post on The Back, she wrote me to "stay strong and be patient." Julia, you were always the strong one. I am sorry we didn't get more time together, but I am very thankful for the many wonderful memories I will always treasure. My deepest condolences to all who knew and loved her. Rest in peace, and I hope Ruby was there waiting for you.

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