The world’s a little dimmer today. I learned last night that a friend from an earlier stage of my life died yesterday morning. It’s strange; last week when going through some old papers and photographs, I came across a picture taken around Christmas time several years ago. It was of Julie and Debbie smiling and wearing tiaras fashioned from magnolia leaves. Shortly after the picture was snapped, the three of us went to a young woman’s house so that Julie could give her some last minute expertise about her table decorations for a dinner she was hosting that evening. That was Julie, helpful and giving.

A phenomenal woman, Julie was the mother of five children, four of them quadruplets, all of whom she dearly loved. In fact, during the time that I spent with Julie as a colleague, it’d be safe to say that her life revolved around her children who were all in their teens at that time. At least the “quad squad” was; her oldest child had been killed in a tragic automobile accident years earlier, and Julie grieved for this young girl, her first born whose life had been snuffed out so soon. Once I asked her how she got through from day to day, and she answered, “From breath to breath.”

Though we were from different walks of life, somehow we clicked, and I think it was because of two of our common interests: children and spirituality. She once told me that I had a certain light that broadcast who I was and what I stood for. Thanks Julie. I’m trying. She introduced me to a line from The Book of Common Prayer, “Give thanks with a grateful heart.” She then jotted down my verse from Alma in The Book of Mormon, “Live in Thanksgiving daily.” No matter what was going on in our personal or professional lives, we had a tacit agreement to remember our blessings…and to remind each other of how fortunate we were if we heard the other complaining.

With a grateful heart, I’m glad to have known Julie Blakely. I hope her children will find some comfort in knowing what a strong, beautiful, loving person their mother was.