Loss of a Dear Friend and a Heart Expanding…


Jules and Brenda 2006

I had the honor of joining the Soulumination board of directors in January, exactly one year after a course of events began that would change my life forever. January 5th, 2007 was the day that my best friend Julie Becker called me asking me and her other best friend Kelly to drop everything and meet her at Purple Café in Kirkland. Although she had been cancer-free for a year, I knew immediately what she was going to tell us and I drove to Purple with my heart in my throat. After that, Julie lived for only 100 days.

Upon hearing the news of Julie’s impending death, Kelly and I kicked it into high gear and in 2 weeks time planned a living memorial for Julie to say goodbye to everyone who had touched her life. When our dear friend Lynette Johnson heard the news, she offered us the opportunity to capture the moment on film.

When we arrived at Lynette’s studio, time stopped; the moment had come to realize why we were there and the true meaning behind our gathering. After the first click the tears began to flow. As we held each other, laughed, cried and looked deep into Julie’s eyes, the magnitude of the reality that she and her luminous presence would so soon be gone began to sink in. Lynette captured all of this in an array of pictures that tell the story. That day is forever etched in my memory, and is made more meaningful knowing it was the inspiration for Soulumination to begin offering its gift to terminally ill parents as well.

Pictures courtesy of Soulumintion

Reflecting back over that time, the pictures have taken on a life of their own. When I stop and look, or share them with a friend, I treasure the gift that Soulumination and Lynette made possible. It is my deepest hope to provide every family faced with such devastating news the opportunity to create a legacy of heart-warming photographs that will live forever to tell their story.

This experience brought me into the Soulumination family, and ultimately to my first board meeting. I feel blessed to join this organization run by so many deeply caring, generous and soulful individuals. Looking into the eyes of the board members, volunteers, and Soul families I see a reflection of my own experience; the ultimate journey of life and the sadness and poignancy of its sudden end.

I would like to end with a quote that Jules gave everyone at her lifetime celebration:

“We are not here just to survive and live long. We are here to live life in all its dimensions. To experience life in its true richness, exploring all available possibilities, never holding back from life’s challenges, pushing forward in curiosity. Only then does life fully bloom. My life has bloomed, and for that I thank you.” – Julie Becker

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About the Author | Brenda Wagner

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