It is never easy to watch a loved one battle cancer or mental illness. I know from our family’s experiences the tole it takes on the people that are caring for/loving/sharing their lives with some one who is battling either of these things. I can only imagine what it would be like to be the person living with these things.
My whole life has been filled to some degree with this bright shining ray of redheaded goodness know as Aunt Julie. She has not had an easy life by any one’s standards as she has lived with mental illness since childhood that left her dependent on family members who loved her but did know always understand the demons that haunted her experiences. She always tried, though, to live her life full of love and kindness towards those around her despite her own struggles in this life. I know that her siblings, siblings-in laws, and her nieces and nephews all have great memories of our times with her. This past year as we have watched her endure an added struggle with terminal breast cancer has not been an easy thing for Julie to experience nor had it been easy for any of the family members, neighbors, and friends that have been blessed with the opportunity to know and learn from Julie. But is it one that I guarantee everyone that has know and loved Julie felt privileged to be allowed a part in. I know I would be a far different person if I had not had the blessing of growing up with Julie as a part of all the important events in my immediate and extended familys’ lives.
A lot of my earliest memories include her and some of my favorite childhood memories are filled of times that Aunt Julie was sneaking candy to me and my siblings, or tickling us until we felt like we were going to pee our pants, or taking us on grand bus adventures around the city to various exciting destinations while she was staying with us or we were visiting her.
My family was privileged to have her living at my parents house for the last several years until the cancer got to bad and she had to move into a care center. For me this meant that my own children got to have a lot of shared memories with Aunt Julie as well since they/we spend a lot of time at grandma and grandpa’s house. My kids will feel the loss of this great lady just like I will. I am glad that they got to know her and love her in such a way that now they will miss her and notice her absence. I think that you can know that a person lived an extraordinary life when the people that loved them can feel their absence in that kind of way. Those are the people who helped to shape who we become and truly impact our lives. For me and my family Julie was one such person. Not all the memories are of easy times. It would not be accurate to say that having Julie in our lives always made things easier but I can say that having Julie in our lives definitely enhanced and blessed us in such a way that made all those tougher times well worth the struggle.
I will miss you Jules and will carry your memory with me always. I hope that you have more peace in your new existence that you had in this one.
Julene Robertson 29 March 1957- 20 April 2010