Before the Morning

Christmas and Mother’s Day are brutal, but they don’t compare to the day she left or the day she came. 

On July 4th, I remember her last. We wheeled her out and watched her eyes light up, brighter than the skies above. 

Halloween makes me think of an elephant and a cowgirl.  Cinderella in a rock-star pink motorized carriage, driving it herself. 


Green was not one of her favorite colors, but she went all out on St. Patricks’ Day because it was an opportunity  to celebrate (and accessorize). 


Back to school is hard, because she loved it so. Thanksgiving too, because it is my family’s big holiday. January 10th was the first day of her most awful hospital admission, but it’s also the day she got her Make-A-Wish princess room. 

Spring makes me think of the annual tulip festival. She wore pink socks and tulip pants and was engulfed by beauty. I’m grateful for this moment, but don’t think I can ever go back to see the tulips.

Every holiday and every season bring out another facet of grief that’s as individual and specific as the person we mourn and the moment we miss. Sometimes it’s a sledgehammer, sometimes just sweet melancholy. Always, there is emptiness.

Easter is the exception; it’s the only day that is better now.


When I faced the awful truth, that part of my motherhood would require carrying Julianna to her end, there was despair and pain too strong and too deep for anything to reach – except for love. Mine for her, hers for me, and at the center of it and surrounding us both, Love. 

More than anyone else I have ever known, Julianna lived for and through love. When we started following her lead, things changed in an instant. We lived with intent; there was no time to waste.  We were still scared, but love was our weapon against fear, so her last eighteen months were glorious.  She thrived even as her body failed, and we lived a miracle: joy in the face of deepest pain. 

I have come to realize that Julianna was never mine to keep. She belonged to the Father who created her and the Son who saved her and the Spirit who shone so radiantly and unmistakably through her. 

She belonged to another place too, the place where there is no end,  where everything is as it was meant to be. She’s there now, running free.

Easter is not so much Easter to me now. It’s Resurrection Sunday, a promise that there is an end to all that is so deeply amiss in this world.

When it’s done, I’ll see her again — and she’ll run to me.

“The dream is ended- this is the morning.” 
― C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle


J — Do you want me to stand in front of the house and in front of all the people so that you can see me first?

M — Yes. I’ll be so happy to see you.

J — Will you run to me?

M — Yes. And I think you will run to me, too

J — I’ll run fast! (shakes her head back and forth to show me how fast she will run)

M — Yes, I think you will run so fast.