JULIA CAROLINE GARDNER
10.25.1985 — 7.7.2015
You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly — that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.
- Anne Lamott
Celebration of life speeches
Article by Stephie Grob Plante
"This is a story about loss"
This is Julia: fearless, loyal, badass, bold, stubborn, witty, creative, quick, sassy, spontaneous, fun-loving, generous, optimistic, selfless, steadfast, and joyful. She lit up the world, and danced her way through 29 years of a beautiful life.
She treated her friends like family, and her family like friends, loving fiercely without expecting anything in return. Julia's infectious personality and positive spirit could make a party out of anything; she could see light in each moment of darkness. She could make all of us see that light, too.
While she brought immeasurable light into our lives, she also suffered from the darkness of depression. Julia began college right after high school, but her depression soon rendered school near impossible, and she left. Some days she struggled to get out of bed at all. After years of inability to commit to her education, of struggle to support herself comfortably, and of frustration over her lack of direction, she knew she needed to make a change. Julia swallowed her pride, moved home, sought therapy, and started carving her own path. She’d worked in restaurants for years, dedicating her life to serving others. At the age of 27, Julia returned to school with a plan to combine her ongoing service experience and education with her future degree in the hopes of someday managing a winery. Within two years, Julia was on track: working full-time on a restaurant schedule while studying for classes, trying to make a better life for herself. She was the happiest we had ever seen her.
When she decided to go back to school, Julia got a tattoo: “I keep dancing on my own,” lyrics to a Robyn song that she loved. Throughout her life she encountered challenges and setbacks that would cause many to become bitter, to complain, or to quit. But Jules never did. She kept fighting. She kept moving forward — with joy, and grace, and humor. She kept dancing.
Julia’s journey on this earth was tragically cut short on July 7th 2015 when she was a passenger in a car struck by a drunk driver. With her passing, we feel pain we never fathomed possible before. But we dance through that pain, just like she taught us to do. Our hope is that Julia's mantra — "I Keep Dancing" — will penetrate your heart, and encourage you to keep dancing through your own struggles — to emerge stronger. And when life just feels impossible, and you reach that breaking point, we hope that you’ll feel Julia in your heart, turn on your favorite song, jam out, and dance.