I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Pondering Julia...Epilogue

by Heidi Larson Geis

Back in April, I wrote a post about the unexpected loss of my sweet friend Julia. The post was my own personal memorial.  I did my best to share Julia-- her amazing wit and tender heart --and then encouraged all of our readers to reconnect with friends. 

Because life is unpredictable.

Seven weeks later, I received an amazing email from Lisa Jordan, who oversees our blog. You see, when someone posts a comment more than a couple weeks after the original date of the post, it requires approval. Lisa forwarded the comment directly to me.

The comment was from Julia’s husband, Rich. 

What I didn’t share in April was that I didn’t know how to get a hold of her family. I’d never met her husband. I had no phone numbers or addresses.  I felt helpless to get answers about her death, or offer comfort to her family. I prayed for her family, especially her husband, and I prayed that God would someday bring us together.

And then, just before the six month anniversary of her death, Rich typed her name into a search engine, and up popped my blog post. After he read it, he sent this message: 

I'm so sorry that you had to find out about Julia that way; you were a wonderful friend to her, and she had a smile a mile wide when she talked about growing up with you. With everything that happened, I was remiss in contacting her friends and I am very sorry for that.

She was a wonderful wife, and I feel truly blessed that we had such a great 9 1/2 years together. She was the funniest, warmest, and most loving person that I ever met, and I was proud to be her husband.

Heidi, I'm sorry we did not have a chance to meet when she was still here with us. If you can let me know how to contact you, I'd love to talk to you. 

He included his email address, and I promptly emailed him. After a flurry of email messages full of memories and apologies, we talked on the phone for four hours. Rich was looking for someone who understood how special and wonderful she was, and he told me later that as he read my post, he could  “envision Julia's smile, her warm brown eyes, her laugh, and the way she would animatedly use her hands when she was talking.”

Over the course of our “little” phone chat, Rich realized that my family loved her for all the same reasons he loved her. He was hoping to find someone who would share stories and pictures and memories; all he had to do was Google her! Now he’s planning to visit my family (including my parents) at the end of July.

Here’s the thing: sometimes writing is hard. Sometimes what God leads us to write is painful. If you’ve ever wondered if it’s worth it, let me assure you, it is. Writing that post back in April made my heart ache, but I knew I was supposed to write it. It never occurred to me that Rich would find it.

But God is faithful when we’re obedient.

Back in April, I was supposed to give away a coffee card, and I totally spaced it! I had a winner, I just completely forgot to come back and post it. So if you are Jessica Patch, or you know her, I just need an email address so I can find out where to send it!


  1. Heidi, I'm so thrilled you were able to connect with Rich. That was a total God moment. The love you had for Julia shines in your post.

    I received a reader letter this morning that touched my heart in a way that no award or best seller list could. The novel was hard to write because I had to dig deep into that painful well of emotion, but this letter proved it was worth it.

    Jess's email is jrpatch@yahoo.com

  2. Heidi, bless your writing obedience. This is so obviously a God appointment bringing healing and ongoing blessings to all--wonderful, and maybe not so amazing.

  3. Having a friend that close is a blessing from God. I am so glad you were finally able to connect with her husband.

  4. Oh, Heidi, your post back in April touched me and this one does again. What a God-anointed post that was, even though it was so hard to write. To me, this is what writing is all about. Using our talent to change someone's life. Blessings, my friend.

  5. Heidi, tears stand in my eyes, even now. The remembered sorrow from the April post, and hearing how God worked healing for both you and Rick is so.....God. :) Thanks for your obedience and for sharing the beauty of your sweet voice through your words. May He continue that restorative work He's begun where Julia is concerned.

  6. Now that is just cool...God uses even the Internet. :) So glad you were able to connect with Rick...and for the way I know you're going to be such a blessing to him. And, I'm sure, vice versa. :)

  7. That's so awesome, Heidi! Hope his visit brings healing to both of you.

  8. That's an amazing story, Heidi! Thanks for sharing.

  9. Such a sweet story ... You never know how God will use your writing ... you just never know.

  10. Lisa~

    Thank you so much for realizing the importance of Rich's post and emailing me!! I probably wouldn't have come back to the April post, so I would've never seen the comment if you hadn't passed it along!

    I loved her so much. As I said, she was the closest thing I had to a sister growing up. After I got Rich's email, it was like I'd lost her all over again. I realized that as long as I hadn't talked with anyone in her family, I could pretend it was the wrong Julia...that my Julia was still alive and thriving in Seattle. Talking with Rich, I had to actually face my loss.

    I haven't suffered much loss in my life. I've been so blessed; however, it makes it hard to write grief believably. That is no longer a problem. The depth of my grief for my friend and sister, coupled with the incredible sense of regret, will be a well from which I can draw for a long time to come.

    I hope God will continue to use my writing to help others. I look forward to letters like the one you received. (And it was obvious that your novel came from a very deep, very personal place!!)

  11. Dee~

    It's funny you said that the way that you did. We say that events like this are amazing, but if we recognize it as God doing what God does (orchestrating events for His glory) why are we always amazed? It's as if we are surprised when He moves. I always want to be in awe of Him, but I should expect that my Father in Heaven wants to give me good gifts...it shouldn't surprise me when He does. I should say to myself, "Isn't that just like Him to make this work out!"

    After all, "we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose!"

  12. Jennie~

    She was absolutely a blessing! I was so angry when she died. I was ranting to my husband, asking him why in the world God would bring this little girl into my life, and allow me to walk to school with her every day, and share my life with her, and love her with my whole heart, but never tell me He was going to take her away from me. My husband said, "Would you have walked to school with her every day, shared your life with her, and loved her with your whole heart if He had told you she was going to die so young?"

    Uh...probably not. And look at all I would've missed! My life is so much richer because she was in it, and although I will never understand her death, I treasure her life. And I keep telling myself that God knows what He's doing.

  13. Thank you, Pat!!

    That April post was probably the hardest thing I've ever had to write. Until I had to write an email to Rich in response to his comment. That one was equally as difficult. I cried and cried. When Rich asked if he could call me, I told him he absolutely could, although I couldn't promise him I could hold it together.

    God showed me a glimpse of the power of our writing. I am encouraged to see what my obedience in writing will bring!

  14. Thank you, Jeanne! I've always disliked stuff that makes me cry...for instance, I'm probably the only woman in the country who hasn't seen the movie Titanic. I have absolutely no desire to see it. I also haven't seen The Notebook. So it's strange to now be writing stuff that makes people cry!

    Thank you--for your kind words and for your thoughtful prayer. Restorative is exactly the word I would use to describe what He's doing here. I sent the link to this post to Rich, and he reaffirmed his plans to visit the last weekend in July. God is so good!!

  15. Melissa~

    God totally uses the Internet!! And not only am I blessed, and hopefully Rich will be blessed, this has been especially good for my mom. She has really struggled with this loss, and it will be so good for her to be able to connect with Rich. Also, I think it surprised her to find out that the time and love she poured into Jules actually made a difference in the woman she grew into.

  16. Teri~

    It certainly was a nice little plot twist! I think I sometimes forget that God is constantly at work, directing traffic for His glory. He definitely has a plan...it was awesome to see a little part of it unfold! =)

  17. Jenness~

    It really is awesome! I am definitely in awe of God. He never ceases to surprise me. The healing has already begun. I think the hardest part was not knowing what happened. It was such a shock to find out she was gone, and it was easy to imagine all sorts of horrible things. Rich told me her passing was truly peaceful and that she "went to sleep here and woke up in Heaven." Knowing that brought so much peace to my heart, and I immediately felt the healing begin. It will be so good to spend some time celebrating her life with Rich and my family.

  18. Beth~

    Isn't that the truth?! I had no idea! I know He uses OTHER people's writing...it just never occurred to me He would use MY writing!! This has been such an encouragement to me to keep writing. If he can use a simple little blog, I can only imagine what He could do with a whole book!

    Speaking of God using someone's writing...I can't wait for my book club to read Wish You Were Here!!! I loved it so much, and I know they will too!