Three weeks ago, we celebrated Julianna’s life in the only way we knew how: we threw a tea party.
Julianna loved tea parties and hosted dozens of them in her almost six years (mostly imaginary, but she was never one to be burdened by reality…). And, of course, she was supposed to go to a tea party at her school the day she took an awful turn.
We wanted a big, beautiful, colorful explosion of joy. It had to be a little too much, because that’s how she was. We knew that children would be there, and we wanted them to be comfortable. Of course there would be sadness and tears, but we wanted them to know that they didn’t have to be afraid, that it was OK to play. Julianna would have insisted on it.
The entire event was held in the lobby of our church. When people walked in, they saw this:
The tone was set.
Next to the awkward unicorn, there was a table with tons of paper hearts.
We asked people to write a note to Julianna:
And put it on this tree. It’s a Korean dogwood, and it will bloom pink flowers in the spring. It will have a home in our front yard. (I can’t think of anything more perfect than a Korean-American tree with pink flowers. )
Probably the most spectacular station (if only for sheer number of items) was this:
We invited kids (and adults) to take them home.
But we made it clear: there are expectations.
There was food:
And a cupcake bar:
And some of our favorite pictures:
Julianna was planning to be a Romanian princess for her school tea party. The dress was displayed here:
Julianna’s class made these wonderful decorations:
This was Julianna’s Every Flavor Teapot. In her tea parties, she only served fantastic and special flavors such as strawberry, marshmallow and chocolate pudding tea.
We asked people to write down their favorite tea:
Julianna always had a killer manicure, so we had to have a nail bar:
And her dresses…they had to be there too:
I’m not sure how many attended, but it was a lot. Dear friends flew in from all around the country. It touched our hearts to see the love for our Julianna.
We sang J’s favorite song (“Hark the Herald”). We read the last three pages from Julianna’s Adventures — the ones that tell us that she was not afraid. We watched a video presentation that always makes me smile and cry. My God, she was beautiful…and so happy. Steve talked about why Julianna loved her toys so much — it was all about making a connection. I read a letter to Julianna. It was about love.
People were surprised that we pulled it off . Everything was on a grand scale, and there were lots of details. For this, we have our wonderful friends and family to thank. It was a labor of love, and Julianna would have been proud — and delighted. It was perfect.
After the tea party, my family went on a little adventure.
We got some ice cream.
And went to Harper’s Playground:
The ride took longer than three seconds, though, and we didn’t stop for lemonade.
Note: if you have no idea what I’m talking about, get a copy of Julianna’s Adventures. It was close to her heart, and all proceeds will benefit CMTA.