By: Amy Isaac
Julia was a light in the lives of many. She graciously touched everyone she met, and had a special gift of connecting with others. Being only three months apart, Julia and I did everything together. Having a cousin, who was more like a sister to me, to share all of life’s milestones and accomplishments with, was truly a gift. However, this also meant we had to convince not just one, but two moms that we were mature enough to do the things we wanted to do.
I’ll never forget Julia and I making up skits and songs to persuade our moms to let us get our ears pierced and shave our legs. We also successfully coaxed our parents into letting us go skydiving for Julia’s 18th birthday, which of course was Julia’s idea. She fearlessly and gracefully jumped out of the plane at 12,000 feet above the ground as I panicked and realized that I was next, and that the only way down was to jump. Julia was always up for any adventure, whether it be family trips to Lake Mead and Telluride, or just spending the day at Monarch Beach playing flag football and paddle ball. One especially memorable trip was our 8th grade graduation trip to the Sierras with our cousins Jenny, Katie, our dads and Papa. It sticks out in my mind because it was, quite literally, the trip from hell. We got stuck in a blizzard, in the middle of summer, while wearing shorts and tank tops. On a trip planned around hiking, fishing, and being outdoors, we never stepped foot outside our tent and nearly froze to death. In light of all of this, I had the time of my life because I got to spend time with Jules. Her positive attitude, fun free spirit, and amazing ability to roll with whatever life threw at her transformed this trip into one of the best of my life.
Julia’s talents were far and many. Although she was a dancer and cheerleader in high school, she could probably throw a football further than the Uni quarterback. She was one of the most intelligent people I ever met. She was a master of trivia and could recall the lyrics to any song written after 1950. Julia had an incredible love for music and dancing, which she shared with her parents and siblings. I’m sure many of you have experienced a “Gardner-Sing-a-Long,” which is truly amazing. It begins as one Gardner sibling begins singing a song, and the others suddenly appear from various rooms, all joining together in song and dance, as if they have rehearsed their routine a million times. Julia never missed a beat or lyric and was usually at the center of it all.
As I look at many of the posts and messages about Julia from her close friends and family, there are many common themes that transpire. Among these, friends speak of Julia’s bright spirit, her positive outlook on life and her ability to make anyone laugh. Jules, you radiated joy, and brought a little sunshine into every room that you entered. Your love of life, your optimism and your laugh were infectious. You were genuinely interested in the lives of every person you met, and you were always accepting and never judgmental. You had an incredible way of engaging others and making them feel as though they were family. You had the ability to quickly read a room full of people, and instantly find the one person who looked like they were in need of a friend. You welcomed new faces with open arms, and lived out your faith in the way you treated others. You were such a bright, kind-hearted and beautiful person, and my life and the lives of countless others are truly better because of you.