By: Stephie Grob Plante
Article "This is a Story about Loss" Stephie wrote about Jules
Jewels and I have been best friends since we were three years old. “Best friends,” though, barely does our relationship justice. We only got to go to school together when we were very, very young; and after we graduated high school I moved out of state, three thousand miles away. But our bond over the past twenty-six years has been the most steadfast thing I know and ever will know.
When you’ve been close like that with someone so special for so long, words and language skills almost become unnecessary. She got me. I never had to explain myself to her. She could just look at me, or hear me stuttering over the phone trying hard to make sense, and she’d know exactly what I wanted to say but couldn’t, and exactly how I felt but didn’t know how to articulate. She got me, and she made everything, everything better, and okay, and good, and great. I told my husband the other day, “Look, you know I really, really love you. But: Julia is my soul mate.” And he was just like, “Duh. I know.”
The other day John Blue asked us, what kind of friend was Julia? What did her friendship mean to me, to us? And I said, “Oh, John Blue. That is really, really hard. Because there are just too many things. I don’t even know where to begin.” But Molly’s best friend Kathryn said it perfectly: Julia was loyal. Fiercely loyal.
One time, a couple years ago, I found out last minute that I’d be going to San Diego, for one night, for work. I called Julia, and told her how bummed I was that I couldn’t get home while I was down there. She, I’m pretty sure, dropped everything to drive down, so that we could spend all of, like, seven hours together. And on this particular night, I got into a kind of weird argument with my boss, right as Julia got there. I said something, and he misunderstood me, and got pretty mad. Julia, who had legitimately just met this person maybe ten minutes earlier, saw that I couldn’t get the right words out, and stepped in and told my boss to, “Please be quiet for a second, and listen to Steph.” And he did. And that was Jewels. She was always my protector.
One of my favorite little Julia memories is from kindergarten. We were putting on a Halloween play, and Julia and a couple other kids played Halloween ghosts. The story was that the ghosts each ate a piece of fruit, and then became the color of that fruit. Julia did not want her character to eat fruit. She hated fruit. (I also hated fruit. Probably because Julia hated fruit.) Julia decided that her Halloween ghost character should eat a chocolate chip cookie, and become the color of a cookie. So while everyone else up there wore a big red apple ghost costume, or a big grape purple costume, Julia wore chocolate chips. She never, ever followed. She led. She was the trendsetter.
Jewels always made a huge point in the past couple years to tell me how proud she was of me. I never felt like I deserved that, and I would always just get flushed and wave it off, “Jewels, I’m not, no, it’s, eh—” something weird like that. What I wanted to say, and what I never got a chance to say, was how proud I was of her. I have always bragged about her constantly, to people who knew her a long time ago but hadn’t seen her in awhile, and to people she’d only met briefly but who had instantly fallen in love with her, and to people who didn’t know her but desperately wanted to after I told them all about her. Julia was fearless, and joyful, and generous, and so talented. And she was brave, and determined to see her goals through. Her outlook was way way way, more often than not, positive and bright, and I always wished I could look at the world the way Julia did. She had more guts and more grit than anyone. She is my hero.
I know I’m going to be looking for her everywhere. I’m going to hear “Runnin’ Down a Dream” by Tom Petty and I’m going to see her playing air guitar. I’m going to be at our friend’s wedding next month, and Robyn will come on, and I’ll see her dancing. I’m going to watch This is Spinal Tap, and I’m going to hear her repeating the jokes aloud, laughing, and then repeating them again. Her laugh was, and is, my favorite sound, and anytime I’m at work and need to be “funny” and “on” and it just feels impossible, I’m going to replay the tape of her laughing in my head, and I’ll know that I can do it.
Jewels laughed so freely, so effortlessly, so honestly, but she was by far the funniest person in the room. I will miss her jokes. I will miss her laugh. I will miss her hugs. I will miss her telling me not to worry about whatever it is that week that I’m worried about because I worry all the time. I will miss her singing into my voicemail when I miss her calls. I will miss her calls. I’ll be looking for her everywhere. But I know that she’s here. With me, and with all of us. And when I just feel lost, I will ask myself, “What would Jewels do?” And the answer, most often than not, will be: she’d laugh. And she’d dance.
We listened to a lot of Bob Dylan growing up. A lot of good music, but a lot of Bob Dylan especially. So, I need to do justice by Jewels and share a Dylan lyric that means more to me now than I could’ve ever imagined. It’s from a song that The Band recorded:
I see my light come shinin’
From the west down to the east
Any day now, any day now
I shall be released
I love you, Jewels.