On a wall in the corner of Julianna’s room, we kept a calendar. That space is usually hidden because of an open door, so it was easy to miss. I had forgotten about it, in fact.
I found it a a few months ago, and I was gutted.
Julianna died on June 14, 2016. The calendar was stuck on the most painful day of my life.
This kind of thing happens randomly: little barrettes, scraps of her scribble, a striped kitty sock. It’s like finding a sliver of glass, but instead of stepping on it, it goes straight to the heart.
We’ve found good homes for most of her things, but these little pieces remain. They are painful treasures: unbearable, but cannot be thrown away.
My therapist asked me to think about something to do with the calendar. I didn’t have to actually do it — just think about it.
I thought, then I cut — and painted and gathered and pasted and glue-gunned and bedazzled. It took a few weeks and a lot of Mod-Podge, and now it’s on the wall where the calendar lurked.
It reminds me a bit of “I Spy”, something at which Julianna excelled. Every sparkly bit is meaningful. Besides strips of the gut-wrenching calendar, it has:
– her “amulet” (watchers of Sofia the First will understand),
– part of the tea cup she and Steve decorated for the tea party she never got to attend
– a tattered picture (my dog got to it, and I couldn’t bear to throw it away, so now the bitten ends are obscured by a flower someone sent and a hair tie.
– a bracelet she made
And more. Like she said, “too much is never enough.”
I’m not an artist, and the message from this is not “When life gives you lemons…”
It’s doing something with the little objects that hurt so much, because she is missed — so much. It’s knowing that she would have loved it and imagining how she would have played with it (I think it would have become an obstacle course for her little toys. The bracelet would probably be a jail for the bad guys..)
It’s a way to remember, on my terms, in a way that honors her.
I’ll be doing it for the rest of my life.