Happy Birthday to You!

Today is mom’s birthday.

Every November 11th (Or closest weekend to it), I would do the same thing. I’d go to Corner Bakery and get two Chopped chicken salads. One with no tomato, and one with no onion. I’d make sure we both got pieces of bread, and would get a lemon pound cake for mom. Today was no different. Well, I guess it was a little different. There was a lot more tears, a lot more memories, a lot more thinking, a lot more hoping, a lot more wishing.

I drove up to the small town in Tennessee mom moved to, to be as close to her as I could for her birthday, but being a small town, there was no Corner Bakery to go to. Yet I still went to Corner Bakery with mom.

I actually had a dream last night. I was at lunch at Corner Bakery with mom. We both had our salads and were sitting across from each other. She looked so happy and so beautiful. She didn’t look like she did when she passed away, she looked like she did when she was in her early thirties. Smiling, long brown curly hair, wearing an outfit I would see her wear to work, all pretty with her jewelry, but there was a different kind of “brightness” about her, she seemed to just glow as she smiled at me. It was a long dream, but I only remember bits of it. I remember the beginning, she smiled and looked at me and said how happy she was to see me, and that she misses me. After that, I don’t remember much until the end, when I guess it was time to go and she smiled at me again and said that she loves me and that I shouldn’t be sad and she is always watching me.

I woke up after she said that, and after realizing it was a dream, I tried my hardest to fall back asleep to go back to her. I could not though, so I laid there, tears streaming down my face wishing I could go to lunch with her again. Wishing that she were here to go get a birthday sundae from Baskin Robbins.

It doesn’t make sense to me. A birthday is supposed to be a celebration of life. A time to remember the past, but look towards the future, look towards the next birthday. It’s hard to celebrate a birthday of a loved one without them.

It was as if God made sure for me to know that He, and heaven were celebrating her birthday. As we drove around today, it seemed everywhere I looked He was telling me that mom was being celebrated. I saw three or four happy birthday balloons scattered about, and saw at least 5 announcement boards (like on gas stations or at a McDonald’s) that read “Happy Birthday”. I’m sure she’s in heaven eating her weight in Cracker Barrel pancakes and lemon pound cake having the best birthday ever.

Mom would’ve been 50 years old today.


Happy birthday mom, I love you!!

Mark 9:36 – 37; Taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them, “Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me.”

Appreciate the “Little Things”

On July 5th of this year, mom had her first appointment with MD Anderson, as she had run out of treatment options back home in Tennessee. Obviously, I called her when I knew she was done so I could know if she was okay or not. I optimistically asked what they had said to her….there was a pause….I, being naïve, wondered if the call dropped and asked “Hello?”. Mom’s response brought my worst fears to a reality. Through tears she told me, “I don’t want to do this over the phone”. I felt my heart drop and did everything I could to stop the tears from coming. I quickly changed the subject to continue our conversation tears free. However, I was powerless when the conversation ended, and I sat in my chair weeping. I knew what that kind of response meant, that the worst is here. I knew my mom was given a timeline. I cried everyday with every new thought about what I would miss with mom gone.

The first thing I thought was Mother’s Day, and how sad that day will always be.  What does one do on Mother’s Day when they have no mother?

The second thought was my mom’s birthday in November. Would she even make it to 50 years old? And even so, what about the birthday after? I had a tradition for her birthday. I would always get her a chopped chicken salad and a lemon pound cake from Corner Bakery and a $20 gift card, plus some other present, usually a Texas A&M shirt. I thought to myself, I don’t get to do that anymore, I don’t get to celebrate her birthday anymore.

Another thought was my birthday. Every year, both my parents would have a competition on who could wake me up the earliest so they can say they said happy birthday first. I usually lied to both and said they both won (Don’t tell them that). However, that’s going to be different. Dad will be the winner every time (Unless my girlfriend has something to say about it!).

Finally, the thoughts that makes my heart the saddest are all the little things I will miss. I no longer will be able to call mom while I walk home from class and just chat about things, ask for help, plan, and see how she and my step-father are. I will forever miss hearing her voice. I no longer will have her to play card games with, and have her and my girlfriend gang up on me. I will forever miss playing games with her.

I no longer will be woken by her in the morning, and have her sit on my bed and talk to me for a while about life and what we would do that day. I will forever miss waking up and talking with her. It is these “little things” that have the biggest impact, because they are the ones that are gone. I still can (And plan to) tell her Happy Mother’s Day. I still can (And plan to) celebrate her birthday, and eat Corner Bakery with her. I still can (And plan to) believe she will try to beat dad at saying happy birthday to me. Although I will forever miss all the “little things” me and mom used to do, these memories have taught me not to take things that seem so small for granted. I will cherish these memories more than the holidays I will miss with my mom, because these memories are what my relationship with mom was.

Even when she’s gone she still teaches.



Luke 16:10- “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.”

The Light that Will Shine Forever

Hello everyone! For starters I should quickly explain that I am not Julie. I am her son, Alex, and I wanted to give an update on her blog. I also apologize for the length, a lot to share!

I asked her awhile ago why she has not posted anything in a long time and she responded by telling me she is too tired, but God is still giving her guidance and she has drafted posts. I could understand why she would not want to dedicate a lot of effort to her blog, giving the treatments she was undergoing and just battling cancer itself. Her posts clearly depict the battle with cancer she faces. Her posts, however, do not give an overall view of my mother. I believe there are so many other battles she fought besides cancer and depression.

She fought a major battle with borderline tendencies. I am so grateful she won that battle, as suicide is common with borderline.

Mom also battled poor relationships. Significant others were just the surface of the many relationships my mom battled through, but she won each one of them. Repairing broken relationships, and forgiving all.

She battled being virtually a single parent. (Side bit, in no way is my father a bad father, he is an amazing father and I treasure our relationship as much as mine and mom’s, but that does not mean that he is without faults)

She always had her focus on me. I will never forget the day she told me she was depressed and contemplated suicide a few years ago. I had come home from college and she explained it to me. I shared with her the depression I felt around the same time. My step-father had a bunch of knives upstairs in our home. I remember one night after a particularly miserable day, I sat at the top of the stairs with one of the knives that had seemed to be calling to me for the past few days. I remember holding against neck, and then a thought came:”What is mom going to do to when she sees her only child dead, laying upstairs?” I quickly put the knife away and went to bed, happy to live on knowing mom is with me.

She saved my life that night, and I told her this. She told me how I saved her from suicide by being her focus and when she would get depressed she would think of me. We made a pact that night, neither one of us was allowed to commit suicide or the other would too. I remember the feeling of finally having something to live for, that being mom. She was now MY focus. I promised myself I would keep my mom alive forever, regardless of the obstacle. Unfortunately, I was naïve and that promise was eventually broken.

Mom passed away early yesterday morning around 4 a.m. and lost her one and only battle, cancer.

I am thankful beyond words to be her son, and to have such a wonderful, courageous, strong, and amazing person to raise me. She will always be with me, in my heart, in my soul, and in my thoughts. I know she touched each one of her readers at least once with a post.

There was nothing I physically wanted from my mom. I did not want money, or her jewelry or anything like that, I wanted something else, something more memorable to me, something I can build and share her legacy. I wanted a way to share her story, her battles, and her amazing victories. I wanted this blog.

Although I am nowhere near as prolific writer as mom (She disagreed and said I’d be a great writer, she always encouraged me), I plan on keeping this blog alive in memory of her and will continue to publish her stories and battles, and some of my own observations of her and those battles. I hope one day the world will know what a truly amazing person my mother was. This is my way of keeping that broken promise, by keeping my mother alive forever through this blog.

I love you mom, and I know you are with God in the heaven you envisioned smiling down upon us all and you will forever and ever be remembered. I love you mom, and you’ll always be my snuggle bug. 

John 11:23-26- Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?

Control is Everything

Several years ago I struggled with depression. Below is something I did during the struggle. I remember when I told my therapist what I had done, she was very concerned. But, I couldn’t understand why. I wanted her to see I was fine, that I was going to be just fine. If you know someone dealing with depression treat them with care. They are looking for a way out. Hold their hand as they find the path.

house dark path

Today is the first day back from a trip with family and friends. It was a mentally strenuous trip. I was tired from keeping a smile on my face and not letting anyone see that I was breaking on the inside. Things happened on the trip that stirred up old memories and deep pain. The actions of the same people were causing the hurt. I felt like a little girl sitting in a corner, watching people live their lives with their backs to me.

I’m taking a sick day so I can regroup and get my mind together. While on the trip, I had pushed the pain aside to deal with it at another time. It was now time to look at what I had put away. As I slowly allowed myself to feel the hurt I started to panic. I was afraid it would overwhelm me.  I had to stop and find a way to prove that I could stay in control.

Guns have been a symbol of escape for me. I know they can quickly bring death. If I can control something so powerful, then I should be able to control the hurt. I went and got the gun out of its hiding place. I held on to it and sat down. I gently set it on my lap and looked at it. I was very careful to point it away from me because I didn’t want to hurt myself. I thought about how powerful the gun was and what it could end.  I can control this, I can do this. I felt relief. My mind is still strong enough to keep the charade going.

Isaiah 35:4 – Tell everyone who is discouraged, be strong and don’t be afraid! God is coming to your rescue…”