On the Eve of my 30th Birthday / A Thank You to Jules

For those of you who know me, you probably know that writing is not my favorite thing to do. For some, it’s therapeutic; for me, it mostly produces a feeling of dread. But as my 30th birthday approaches, I know there’s something that I need to write:

My thank you note to Julia.

If this was a made-for-TV movie, Julia would have pre-ordered my 30th birthday present (Julia was very good about remembering birthdays and never missed the opportunity to remind me how much she loved me on my special day). It would arrive the morning of my birthday, and I would have a big What-Turning-30's-All-About epiphany just moments before guests arrived for my party, as people turning 30 tend to do in made-for-TV movies. The reality is a little less dramatic, but no less worthy of being celebrated: Julia did leave me a gift.

Prior to her death, I thought turning 30 would be something I'd dread and wouldn't want to celebrate. I imagined I’d look in the mirror, find a tiny line and convince myself that I’m SOOO OLD and haven’t done enough. Instead, I’ve learned over the past year and a half of celebrating Julia and her life that, for me, it isn’t about having it all together or the things I have yet to accomplish. It’s about appreciating the moments we have, saying yes to things that scare us and truly loving — and always celebrating — the wonderful people around us. Each day, each week, and each year is a gift. 30 is not something I want to run away from. It’s something I want to celebrate.

When I first moved back from New York, Julia and I met up for happy hour for the first of what would become our weekly “play dates." As we sat on the patio enjoying our drinks, we talked about Julia’s next steps in her college career, and what our mutual friends in high school were up to. This evolved into a discussion on time passing, and where we thought we would be at that point in our lives versus where we actually were. Julia bravely shared that she had been struggling with feeling like everyone had it "together" from a much earlier age than she had. She then shared her antidote to this:

She would no longer compare herself to others, or impose expectations on herself of where she "should" be.

This conversation continued to echo in my head after Julia’s accident. She didn’t get to finish college, start the career she dreamed of or get married. But none of that means that she didn't live a rich, full and accomplished life. Julia said yes to trying new things, and in doing so changed the course of my life (and the lives of so many others). She didn’t live by a certain checklist, or try to have it all figured out (I truly think that most people don’t feel like they have it figured out either). Instead, she made a conscious effort to silence that negative voice in her head and replace it with "yes." It was infectious -- my yes voice now sounds remarkably like Julia’s.

So on the eve of my birthday, I want to toast to Julia. 

Thank you for still pushing me to embrace life and to keep dancing. It is better than any other birthday gift I could have asked for.

With love,

A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.  Ecclesiastes 3:4