Writing about Julie’s death is difficult, of course, because focusing on losing her is painful. It is also difficult, however, because her final days contain little drama to exploit, no epiphanies to reveal, and no profound insights to share.
My explanation is that Julie expended and invested herself so thoroughly in living that there just wasn’t much left for dying. She wasted no heroics on the deathbed, preferring less somber stages – and more raucous audiences — for her performances.
Re-reading e-mail messages from the months prior to Julie’s death, I am once again surprised by how much Julie accomplished in the midst of the chaos of that period, replete with late night phone calls to on-call clinicians, hospitalizations, and emergency doctor visits. Within two or three weeks of her death, Julie was still, at the request of the authors, editing fictional pieces and offering concise, on the mark suggestions concerning style and technique. She was also carrying on a lively correspondence with friends and colleagues, helping our sons with homework, and arranging to have work done in our home.
And, she spent a lot of time loving me.
Despite rampaging disease, huge doses of a dozen medications, and the knowledge that she had exhausted all available treatments for her implacable disease, Julie lived every waking moment fully and intensely – as she had all the years we were together.
Then, as precipitously as drawing the curtain for the final act, she withdrew into herself. For days, she ate and drank almost nothing and rarely spoke. She would take her medications when I gave them to here. She watched me as I organized her nightly dialysis. She would occasionally smile when I spoke to her. Every night we would lie in bed together, my arm wrapped around her.
Then, one morning, shortly after I awoke, Julie quit breathing.
It really was that simple. There were no death shudders, no last words, no final goodbyes.
One moment Julie was breathing and then she wasn’t.
One moment Julie was alive and then she wasn’t.
Julie Showalter was the fiercely intelligent, sexy, and loving woman with whom I had a outrageously wonderful marriage that ended with her death in late 1999 from cancer diagnosed the week of our wedding nearly 20 years earlier. She was also a brilliant scholar, the mother of our two sons, and a prize-winning author. Many posts on this blog are about her and still others consist of her writings. Julie’s Story is the account of our unlikely romance, Information can be found at Julie Showalter FAQ.
- Previous Installment: 20. Julie In-Hospital In June 1999 – Email, Notes, & More
- First Installment Of Julie’s Story: 1. This Is How A Love Story Began
All posted chapters can be accessed at Julie’s Story
Note: Originally posted Dec 3, 2006 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of AllanShowalter.com