Saturday, March 9, 2013

More from Julia's memorial

More than 300 people gathered to celebrate Julia
I'm posting to share a few more pictures and readings from Julia's memorial service. It was such a wonderful thing to be able to come together with so many people  who love Julia and celebrate her bright spirit. 

The service was led by close family friend and pastor Darrel Lynn, who had officiated at Carrie and Glen's wedding nearly ten years ago.

We began with Amanda lighting a candle, then a video of Julia singing her favorite song, Shenandoah. 

Going to music class was one of Julia's very favorite things, and music was likewise an important part of the service. Colleen, our much-loved music teacher, led us all in singing together: Shenandoah, Moon, Moon Moon, This Little Light of Mine and You Are My Sunshine.

Both of Julia's grandmothers, her two god-mothers, and her parents came up to speak. Here are the texts of their speeches: 

Grammie Jen: 
As our families think about Julia we are sad her cute little self is no longer with us, but before long those moments of sadness quickly turn into smiles.  She reminds us of Maria, a character in The Sound of Music.  What do you feel about a little girl like Julia? She certainly kept us entertained with her precocious little smile and her darling little dances. She was a moonbeam you couldn't hold in your hand!  Even a little girl who dances on moonbeams has to clean up.  It makes me think of how often she would be in the shower with one of us and that little girl was a hot water hog!  Her love of water didn't stop with her shower.  I remember taking Julia to the pool in Folsom this summer.  She relished in the fact that every pre-teen and teen loved to push the hot water button for her so she could have more hot water.  Before long she found the hair dryers in the dressing room!  Carrie and I couldn't believe how quickly Julia organized all the little girls to keep pushing the button so she could stand under the hairdryer and have the warm air pour over her. To say she had a way about her is an understatement.

She would often shock us with her knowing smile or her ability to something we had no idea that she was capable of.  One time when Glen was up cleaning gutters on the roof, Amanda came running into the house to tell Mommy that Julia was going up to the roof.We didn't know she could climb a ladder, but when Carrie crept out quietly, so as not to scare her, Julia was just getting to the roof.  Luckily, Daddy quickly scooped her off the roof!  Such a minx.  She was so excited to do big girl things like trying to put on Amanda's roller skates or trying to get on her bike or just march around the house in boots, singing the boots song!  I am certain that So You Think You Can Dance was in her future.  She performed the cutest dances, wiggling those tiny hips and shaking her head in her special way. 

You could always corral Julia with a good story from a favorite book.  She loved to hear certain stories over and over, like the one about Nicholas the Bunny.  Her grandpa and she loved Red Hat, Blue Hat and that silly turkey!  Our all time favorite was the Belly Button book.  Yes we had a special love for the bebo.  Kissing little pea toes and bebos became a loving ritual for Julia and her Grammie!  Anytime we were in a store, Julia charmed everyone, making them smile when they saw her.  It is what you do when you are drawn to a beautiful light.

She truly loved her big sister Amanda, all her grandparents, aunts and uncles and all her friends, especially her Oliver, Finn, Francesca and Alonso.  Names that were so adorable when she said them.  She had a love of four legged friends too!  Every time I see a Chihuahua, I can't help but think about Rocko and Julia chewing up carrots so she could spit them out for him to eat.

On Friday morning we saw a beautiful purple hyacinth poking its little head through the dirt in the garden.  Julia helped plant those bulbs this past fall.  Like the perennial hyacinth, Julia will continue to grow in my heart, today and all around, always with me on this new journey. I know that every time I look at the moon, a hot air balloon, or a purple butterfly, I will definitely feel her with me.  The most wonderful thing is that she sure knew that she was loved.

Nonna Carole:

There is something very special about being a grandparent.  It is hard to explain until it happens to you.  I know those of you who are grandparents know just what I mean.  I married Glen’s dad about 8 ½ years ago and one of the nice outcomes is the children we both got to add to our families. We went from 2 children each, to four together.  There were only 3 grandchildren then, but before we knew it there were 6.  Julia was the baby.  When the first born comes into the family, there is such a sense of excitement, newness.  For a few years this child gets all of the attention.  When the second child comes, grandparents get to help with the care of the first born while mom and dad bond and get to know this new addition to the family.  This is how it was when Julia was born.  Amanda was so excited about her new baby sister, loved to help with her and show her off to anyone who would look and listen.  But she loved having a grandparent with empty arms who could read to her, take her to the park without waiting, and get her a snack RIGHT NOW.  I bided my time.  I was coming up each month to babysit a few days when Carrie and Glen worked the same days.  These were busy days with a toddler and a baby.  We were busy each day, taking Julia to school so mom could nurse her at lunch time, going to Whole Foods to see what snacks they had out, explaining to Amanda why Nonna had a talking lady in the car otherwise we would get lost.  Then my time came!  One word-School.  I would finally get that special time you get right away with the first born, but have to wait for with the second.  It was just Julia and I.  What a special treat!  What a special girl.  Alone, she talked more!  No competition from anyone else, it was just her and I.  She loved to ride in my sling, which I needed for the walk from the car when dropping off and picking up big sister.  She would sit on the hood of the car scoop her head down and under the sling and just about put the thing on by herself. 

 While we were together, she would point out things around her, whether it was a bird, plane or hot air balloon, she was aware of it all.   Every visit we did bath time.  Wow, could she strip of those clothes fast when I just said one word-bath!  She would be in the tub, toys out before I made it down the hallway.  She would be the first one in and the last one out. 
She quickly became a seasoned gardener.  I just had to turn on the hose and she knew what to do with it early on.  She was just walking when she could pick a ripe strawberry, tomato, weeds and sometimes the whole plant.  She took great joy in being outside, a girl after my own heart.  One of our favorite things was going on an adventure, taking her out in the wagon and walking around the neighborhood. We played “I Went Walking” and “Going on a Bear Hunt”.   She could fill that wagon with leaves in no time flat!  Her nap time was taken cuddled on my chest or learning against me on the swing.  What grandma does not love that!   It will remain in my heart forever.

Even when Julia was in the hospital, struggling with her illness she kept her sense of humor.  She showed strength and determination.  It became a game, who could get her to smile and it was a special day when the smile was so big we got to see her teeth!  Every moment I spent with this little angel was precious.  She was full of personality and a joy to be with.  I thank Carrie and Glen for giving me the opportunity to be part of both of their girl’s lives, to be their Nonna.  Now I know Julia is in the arms of her other grandma, Glen’s mother Diane and sister, Jeanne.  She is our forever angel and will continue to be loved by them and all of us here. 

Tia Krista: 
So Carrie & I tried to multitask one day by talking while keeping half an eye on the kids.
We were in the back yard when Julia disappeared around the corner for a minute.
She came back chomping on a piece of watermelon. “That’s weird,” Carrie said to me. “We must have left that out after lunch yesterday.” Things are a lot less alarming with kid #2. A few minutes later she showed up with a cup of water. Then half a sandwich! Looking back, we really should have checked what was up after the watermelon, right!?!

I also have cherished memories from before Julia was born. Amanda wished again and again that the new baby would be born on July 6th so they could share a birthday. On the 7th, I was on the phone with Carrie when her labor got so strong that she had to hang up so she & Glen could bring Julia into this world. And even though Amanda didn’t get to share her birthday like she’d hoped for, she took her role as big sister seriously right from the start and loved Julia so, so much. Even when Julia was a tiny little baby, if I didn’t greet her immediately when I saw them Amanda would correct me. “Don’t forget Julia!” She would say. I didn’t and I won’t.

The incredible details of her life have opened hearts and expanded the circle of those who love her so that it now reaches well beyond immediate family and friends. I mean, all you have to do is look around to see it. Each of you in this room (and so many who aren’t in attendance today) have made it your purpose to care for Julia and surround us all in your love. Meals show up, bills get paid, hugs, songs and stories are shared.

So knowing the generous spirit that you bring with you today, I’d like you to ask your help with something. If you feel comfortable doing so, please reach forward and touch the shoulder of someone in front. This way, we can ALL feel the power of our connection and direct our love up here to the Kings as I share a blessing.

Carrie, Glen, Amanda and all of us who need these words today:
May the light of Love surround you.
its power protect you.
Its presence watch over you.
And may you know that
wherever you are, Love is
This and every day.

I was up next: 
I’m Francesca, Julia and Amanda’s other godmother, and mom to Julia’s good buddies Oliver and Finn. The other day, Oliver and I were talking about Julia, and he told me something remarkable. He said that maybe our souls are mostly love the way our bodies are mostly water. In that case, Julia’s soul is particularly well-nourished, because her life was one that was blessed with so much love, from those early days when she never seemed to leave her snuggly perch in the Ergo carrier to her transition to a mischievous, independent toddler who delighted in making her family laugh. 

When Julia was born, Amanda blossomed as an amazing, compassionate, patient and nurturing big sister. Julia let Oliver practice his big brother skills on her too. Fiercely protective of their Julia, Oliver and Amanda jumped through hoops—sometimes literally-- to make her laugh, and mostly tolerated the sudden destruction of their projects when she came crawling through. Julia was never daunted by the bigger kids, but held her own with a spiritedness that was characteristic of her strong sense of self.  Then along came Finn, and Julia got her turn to be the big one. She loved to feed Finn whatever she was supposed to be eating, and he never said no to her snacks. They loved to hide under the covers together and chase the cats all over the house. Julia taught Finn her special silly walk and they cracked each other up trying it out together. 
Watching these four kids together, through thick and thin, has been an incredible privilege for me. The love they have for each other, their empathy, the joy of their play, the volume of their arguments and the swiftness of their forgiveness—it’s pretty amazing to behold. I know they will carry the gift of that love in their hearts always, just as Julia carries their love for her.

 And finally, Carrie and Glen came up to speak. Here is Carrie's: 

Love is something that we all know about and feel, but it became more alive and real to me when I became a mother. 
            On July 6, 2007, Amanda was born and I was euphoric. I was thanking all the hospital staff and was acting as if I had just won the Oscars. She was perfect and amazing. I loved her so much that I was worried about having enough love for another child. Luckily, I had nothing to worry about. Love is strange that way. It just keeps growing.
            On July 7,2010, just hours after celebrating Amanda's 3rd birthday, Julia Kay King was born. It was another amazing and perfect experience. Glen, Amanda, My mom, Francesca, and two midwives were all there as we welcomed Julia into the world, our family and home. She wasted no time and got straight to nursing.
            I love being with my family. We are outside going on walks, hikes, bike rides, and adventures as often as we can. We read stories till we can't see straight. We work in the garden together. We all eat oatmeal and applesauce. We love to camp.  Many times, we all slept in the same bed together. At least some of us slept. Amanda helped Julia with her potty training by bringing her bottles of water to consume as she sat on the pot. We sing and like to compete with each other in high stakes competitions like who can get their pajamas on first. Sometimes we argue or get on each other’s nerves, but we all know that we can count on each other and that we love one another.
            As most of you know, Julia had been sick over the summer and was admitted to the hospital in late October. There were a lot of ups and downs, celebrations and disappointments. Julia, backed by the rest of us, fought hard and strong.
            On January 24,2013, we realized that Julia's body was just too sick to go on. With the help of an amazing hospital staff, Glen and I were able to hold her as she passed. Then, Glen, the nurses, and our family, wheeled Julia and I into the serenity garden so that her body could be outside once again. As I was riding in a wheelchair holding my baby in my arms, I felt like a new mama full of serenity and peace holding my baby. I believe that Julia's spirit lifted while we were in the garden and went to hug her big sister, Amanda, as she was playing at Ragel Park. Amanda and Julia love each other very much, and even though Julia's no longer in her body, that love will continue to live on. While Julia's death was not anything that I ever wanted to have happen, her life and death were full of love, and that is perfect.
            When Julia became sick and was hospitalized, we were all so sad and worried. It was very hard to be separated from each other, our routines, and our sense of family. These months have been hard on our bodies, minds, and spirits. We don't know what the future will bring. Fortunately for  Glen, Amanda, Julia, and I, our family was much bigger than just the four of us.
            Our parents, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews and friends came out in droves. Some of you waited with us through surgeries, some of you spent time with Julia, some with Amanda, some with Glen or I. You have prayed for us, helped us financially, supported us in so many ways. You fed us, and continue to feed us both physically and spiritually. Your love is what has made this time bearable and has held us up so far. Thank you for sharing your love with us. It is an amazing thing to be the recipient of this love, and just to know that it is possible. If there is one thing that I know for sure it is this: Julia and our family are loved. I have no doubt that Julia is surrounded by love and is very happy. I also know that although the rest of us are very sad, angry, numb and numerous other things, I also know that we are loved and that we will be happy too.
            There is a plaque that was always in my home growing up, and my parents gave it to me for my home. It is going to be my touch stone to help me remember this love. This poem by Emmet Fox, reads:

There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer;
no disease that enough love will not heal;
no door that enough love will not open;
no gulf that enough love will not bridge;
no wall that enough love will not throw down;
no sin that enough love will not redeem…

It makes no difference how deeply seated may be the trouble,
How hopeless the outlook,
How muddled the tangle,
How great the mistake,
A sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all...

If only you could love enough you would be the happiest and most powerful being in the world.

Glen spoke from the heart without writing it out ahead of time, so there are no written remarks to share here. Key to what he had to say was that what matters most is our relationships with each other. 

In the weeks since Julia's passing, the strength of those relationships has proven itself as the community has continued to rally around the King family. Many delicious and love-filled meals have arrived at their house, a successful bake sale took place, a bench has been placed in her honor at Ragle Park, more than 700 stones (one for each day of her life) painted and placed around trees and flowers grown in her name. Children who never met her have sung in her memory. A branch of the local library is creating a book collection in her name. She is always on our minds and in our hearts.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Grammie Jen Checking In

My dear beautiful friends and angels, you have all been such an amazing and supportive group of people. The word community takes on a whole new meaning to me now! You have given us your time, prayers, thoughts, and support. None of it was taken lightly! It was taken with love as it was given to us!
I am so happy to inform you that Julia's corneas were successfully transplanted into a 2 year old boy and a 54 year old woman. I am so happy that two people will be able to look at the world through the beautiful corneas of such a special angel that only saw wonder and beauty and awe in her two short years.
I would like to thank whoever is involved in the angel of hope program, I believe that is the name of the group, that stitched all the angels that came from all over the country to surround us all, especially Julia, in love! The angels were suspended above the doors of the service for Julia and gave extra support at the celebration of her life. We were so blessed to have you as a part of our journey. We suspended the angels with the hearts that were also sent anonymously to Julia during her hospitalization. The love and prayers continuously surrounded us all.
I hope you all had a wonderful day last week as we celebrated valentines day. It was a lovely day here in Folsom and a lovely day at the beach that  Carrie, Glen and Amanda went to.
I love you all and bless you and send sweet thoughts to you all.
Grammie Jen

Friday, February 15, 2013

Bake Sale Success

The outpouring of love in support of the King family continued with a hugely successful bake sale yesterday. Heartfelt thanks to everyone who organized this event, the many families who baked up a delicious storm, and everyone who stopped by to make a donation and sample the goodies.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Bake Sale in Julia's Honor

There will be a bake sale to support the King family in front of Oliver's Market in Santa Rosa on Valentine's Day.  The families in Carrie's moms group are planning to offer some delicious, Valentine's-themed treats, and would love to see you there!

Thursday, 2/14 from 4-7PM in front of Oliver's at 461 Stony Point Road, Santa Rosa.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Beautiful day in Julia's honor

Saturday's memorial was a wonderful celebration of Julia's bright light and all the gifts she brought to us. The service included four readings, and a few people requested they be posted here.

Reader 1: from The Prophet:

"And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said,
'Speak to us of Children,'
And he said, 'Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

"You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday."

Readings from Rumi:

For Reader 2:  Moses and the Shepherd

Moses heard a shepherd on the road praying:

"God, where are you?  I want to help you, to fix your shoes
and comb your hair.  I want to wash your clothes
and pick the lice off.  I want to bring you milk
to kiss your little hands and feet when it's time
for you to go to bed.  I want to sweep your room
and keep it neat.  God, my sheep and goats
are yours.  All I can say, remembering you,
is ayyyy and ahhhhhhhhh."

Moses could stand it no longer.  "Who are you talking to?"

The Shepherd said, "The one who made us, and made the earth and made the sky."

Then Moses said, "Don't talk about shoes and socks with God!  And
what's this with your "little hands
and feet"  Such blasphemous familiarity sounds like
you're chatting with your uncles ...

The shepherd repented and tore his clothes and sighed
and wandered out into the desert.

A sudden revelation came then to Moses.  It was God's voice saying:
"You have separated me from one of my own.  Did you come as a Prophet
to unite or to sever?
I have given each being a separate and unique way
of seeing and knowing and saying that knowledge.
What seems wrong to you is right for him.
What is poison to one is honey to someone else.
Purity and impurity, sloth and diligence in worship,
these mean nothing to me.
I am apart from all that.
Ways of worshiping are not to be ranked as better
or worse than one another.
It 's not me that's glorified in acts of worship.
It's the worshipers!  I don't hear the words
they say, I look inside at the humility.
And broken-open lowliness is the reality,
not the language!

Moses ran after the shepherd, and
Moses finally caught up with him.
"I was wrong.  God has revealed to me
that there are no rules for worship.

Say whatever and however your loving tells you to.  Your sweet blasphemy
is the truest devotion.  Through you a whole world
is freed.

Loosen your tongue and don't worry what comes out.
It's all the light of the spirit."

For Reader 3:  Each Note

God picks up the reed-flute world and blows.
Each note is a need coming through one of us,
a passion, a longing-pain.

Remember the lips where the wind-breath originated,
and let your note be clear.
Don't try to end it.
Be your note.
I'll show you how it's enough.

Go up on the roof at night
in this city of the soul.

Let everyone climb on their roofs
and sing their notes!

Sing loud!

Reader 4: A Great Wagon

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened.  Don't open the door to the study
and begin reading.  Instead, take down a musical instrument.

Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.


Feeling Separation

A night full of talking that hurts,
my worst held-back secrets.  Everything
has to do with loving and not loving.
This night will pass.
Then ... we have work to do!

I hope to soon write more and post some more pictures from Saturday. It was a real community effort, and a testament to the powerful network of support that surrounds the Kings. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Flowers for Julia

So many people have asked how they can help the Kings during this time of mourning. The outpouring of love and support, and all the creative ways of showing that love have been incredible, and Carrie and Glen thank you from the bottom of their hearts.

For anyone who feels moved to participate in this way, Carrie and Glen would like to invite you to help decorate the hall on Saturday by bringing a vase of flowers to place on the stage. After the service they encourage you to bring your flowers home with you, and in this way carry with you some of the beauty and love we share in Julia's memory.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Memorial Service for Julia

On Saturday, February 2nd at 2:00PM, we will come together to celebrate the shining, mirthful little girl we love and to honor her memory. Julia's memorial service will take place at the Person Auditorium at the Finley Center in Santa Rosa, followed by a reception and light refreshments.  Children are welcome to come, and some special activities will be included for them.We hope you are able to join us.

Carrie is also working on creating a memory book about Julia, and she welcomes your help. Please write down your favorite Julia stories or memories and send them to Carrie via a comment on this blog or by email (carsoren AT yahoo DOT com). If you have photos of her that Carrie might not have, please send those as well. This book will be treasured by all of Julia's family, but will be most especially important for Amanda as she grows up. Thank you for your help.