After writing the final chapter of Julie’s Story, I belatedly realized that I had described the end of Julie’s life as though she and I went through that tragedy alone. This is embarrassingly inaccurate.
When it became clear that Julie’s worsening condition would soon make it impossible for me to take care of her, our sons, and our home while continuing to work even part-time, she and I hesitatingly asked our mothers if one of them could lend a hand. (Julie’s father and mine had died a few years previously.) Both Julie’s mother and mine immediately left their friends, community, and, in the case of Julie’s mother, her husband (who had his own health problems) to stay with us, hundreds of miles from their own homes, for weeks and then months, doing everything and anything that needed to be done.
Many of the clinicians who worked with Julie were not only competent but also empathic and extraordinarily caring. Several physicians and nurses who were no longer actively treating her (because we had moved) stayed in touch with her and followed her care.
Without exception, each of the hospice workers went far beyond their already onerous job descriptions to do whatever Julie needed. One of the hospice workers spent hours arduously working to successfully persuade Blue Cross (the entity controlling funding for hospice care in our region) to qualify Julie for hospice care despite the continuation of her dialysis, the first such waiver granted in this jurisdiction. I later discovered that the responsible worker was a part-time, unpaid volunteer.
Of course, we had friends who pitched in and who were in contact via phone calls, e-mail, and visits. More surprisingly, however, several individuals who were casual acquaintances and some who were actually business associates, merchants, and professionals we had hired for one project or another spontaneously offered their assistance, for example, running errands, transporting Julie to outpatient dialysis (an hour’s drive each way), and arranging changes in the kids’ school bus routes. Two individuals I met online, one through an e-mail mix-up and one I had hired to help on a web site, were incredibly insightful and supportive although I met neither in person prior to Julie’s death.
When Julie finally died, I called upon a colleague and friend to ask her help in arranging the cremation and memorial service. She responded without hesitation or complaint to accomplish this unrewarding task, as I knew she would,
Without this help, not only would our lives have been much more difficult but I would not have been privileged to care for and spend so much time with Julie in those last weeks of her life. And for that, I am deeply thankful.
This is not an exhaustive list; nor does it sufficiently express my gratitude. It is only my attempt to declare my profound indebtedness to all those who were there for Julie and for me when we needed them and to apologize for not making this declaration earlier.
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.