Dukan – Day 119 and Missing Julie

Saturday was a PP day πŸ™‚

Daily Weight Loss: 0.9 lb/0.4 kg
Total Weight Loss: 53.3 lb/24.21 kg

Today I’m going to talk about a different loss than weight loss. I’m going to talk about the loss of a friend. My friend, Julie Anna Congdon.

Julie came to me via the Miami-Dade College Midwifery program. My friend Tammy, who’s son Landon I had the honor of catching, was also a student there and they wanted to do their clinical rotation at my birthing center. That was in 1999.

Julie was the most vivacious, life-loving human being I’ve ever been blessed to meet. Doing births with her was an honor. She loved the women we cared for and it was easy to hand over my patients to someone as awesome as Julie. We used to laugh and laugh at births… two favorites come to mind…
At one birth the nurse that worked with us, Carolyn, kept holding her thumb and forefinger up to her lips several times trying to get Julie to give the patient something. Finally Julie says, “we can’t do that at a birth!”…. and Carolyn and I were very confused. Finally, Carolyn reached over and gave the patient a sip of water through the straw… Julie just about fell over laughing… she thought Carolyn was giving her the sign for smoke weed. Funny how non-verbal cues can get so out of whack!
At another birth, the patient was having a hard time dealing emotionally with her birth, Julie, Tammy and I were giving the patient some time alone with a friend in my office next to the birth room. We could hear the friend talking to the patient about her past and Tammy says, “that’s it, I’m calling Jerry Springer” and Julie snorted coffee all over both of us.

Good times… lots of them. Tammy and Julie graduated from midwifery school and moved to Fort Pierce to work with me in my center. At that time I had rented a massive 8 bedroom, 4 bathroom building on U.S.1. Tammy and Julie moved up to the 3rd floor with their kids and we ran the center out of there. We did some great births! Many of our patients were young women, many of our patients were seasonal orange grove workers, many of our patients were professionals, it was a nice balance. Julie taught the childbirth education classes Birthing From Within and my favorite class that she taught was the Birth Art class… she used to be able to inspire the women to come up with some amazing pieces of art!

Time goes by… the center closes, I go to the Virgin Islands and then come back, Julie moves to Connecticut and then comes back and we all move into a house on Indian River Drive… good times, bad times, lots of love in that house. I loved when all the kids would pile on my bed at night and watch Crime TV with me while Tammy and Julie were out sow their oats… I loved having them there with me.

In the fall of 2004, Julie went to Italy with her grandma. When she came back she was exhausted. She was still assisting me as the 2nd midwife at births and at the last birth we did together she was so tired I couldn’t get her off the couch. I asked her if she was OK, and she felt that maybe she had picked up a flu in Italy. Julie had been bruising even more than usual over the last few months and something niggled in the back of my head, but I let it rest. This was the last week of October.

On November 15, I had surgery and Julie was there with me through the whole procedure. And took me home to take care of me, but was so tired, she just crawled in bed with me and stayed there all day. This wasn’t like her, at all. I asked her if she was feeling the same as a couple of weeks before and she said she was. We decided she’d go see the doctor the next day. In the morning she came by to make sure I was okay and helped me to get a bath and then crawled into bed with me again… little did we know how much our lives would all change that afternoon.

Julie went to see the doctor who thought that she had a kidney infection and wrote a prescription and sent off blood and urine…. meanwhile, Julie comes back to my house to check on me and asks me to palpate her abdomen… her spleen was HUGE… from the ribs to the hip, from the side of her body to her mid-line… HUGE… I remember (and I have that feeling right now) the dread I felt… I feel it like it was yesterday. Then Julie gets a call about the lab results and the world turned upside down. 😦

The next 9 months are a roller coaster in my head… Julie in the hospital, Julie out, Noel here, supporting, I went to Hong Kong to deliver a baby and was back, Julie’s bone marrow transplant in May, on Sadie’s birthday, Julie’s NEW birthday, but alas, she wasn’t going to see another birthday. Julie in July, bald and confused and smelling alcohol prep pads because the made her feel better and finally her last week in August, that I will treasure in my heart forever… Noel, who had spent countless, continuous hours at Julie’s bedside, left for 4 days to find an apartment. The hospital had approved an experimental drug and they were going to infuse it on Saturday. There was hope… I stayed with her, in that room, the room she’d been in for months. I knew in my heart of hearts that Julie’s stay with us was short. I knew in my heart of hearts that this was the last time I would see her. I knew in my heart of hearts that I was losing one of the most amazing people I had ever met in my life… but I was so hoping that my heart of hearts was wrong. I said my goodbyes to her, privately, while I held her on my shoulder and tried to be brave. I remember collapsing into sobs (kind of like now) in the family waiting area. I went back to the east coast of Florida on Friday, August 19. I called Tammy and told her she should get her butt over there. I was trying so hard not to be a negative thinker, but I am a realist. Tammy went to be with Julie and Noel.

Julie died on Sunday, August 21, 2005 at 1:55 p.m. surrounded by people who loved and adored her. I was with a friend and had left my phone out in the car… there were 27 missed calls and messages. I didn’t have to read any of them I just knew. I just knew…

Losing a friend brings about our own mortality. We are only on this planet for a little while and we don’t know when our number is up, so we should live and love each and every day to the fullest. Julie did… she loved her children Avery and Jonah fiercely, she loved Noel with every cell of her heart and she loved her friends and family and showed that by her actions.

Happy Birthday, Julie Boolie… I sure miss your sunshiny face and positive attitude, thank you for gracing me with your friendship for the short time I had you! Thank you for teaching me how to eat sushi and love wasabi, thank you for making me laugh.

Some pictures of Julie…

Julie and I with WAY more makeup on than either of us would wear! Photo session with Amy Koontz.

At a birth... Great birth team!

With Noel, Sydnie and Sadie at Tiffany's birthday 2004.

At Sadie's birth-Sadie came so fast, Julie didn't make it πŸ™‚

At Shelley Z's birth.

Julie and I on Thanksgiving 2003 in New York.

Thanks for sharing my little piece of Julie πŸ˜€


Quote of the day:Β A friend is one who knows you and loves you just the same.
~ Elbert Hubbard

11 thoughts on “Dukan – Day 119 and Missing Julie

  1. Sandy, thank you for sharing. I too have MANY fond memories with Julie Anna. She was my study buddy, car pool companion, amazing friend and a beautiful midwife! I had the pleasure of being a companion student with her at Miami Dade and we traveled all over S. Florida to pursue our passion to become independent midwives. We were fortunate to travel to Caratagena Columbia, South America, for clinical experience to fulfill the requirements to graduate midwifery school at the end of our last semester. I have memories of her coming into my bed when we were in Categena and cuddling with me. I think we actually spooned.

    For some reason Julie Anna could bring out my wild side and I’m not sure how we managed to not get into any trouble. I shared things with her that I didn’t feel comfortable sharing with just anyone and I always felt she understood me. I recall having several conversations about death and how it was her worst fear and those conversations allowed me the opportunity to share my faith with her hoping it would put her mind at ease. I didn’t get the chance to see her after she was diagnosed because I had moved to the Carolinas in 2004 and had dealt with several of my own family traumas. I did get a chance to talk to her before the bone marrow transplant and we reminisced about some of our crazy times. I didn’t realize how sick she was because she was so positive and determined to overcome, which gave me hope she would. I’m sad that her positive attitude and belief that she would beat it and go on to live a long life weren’t enough. I said good bye to her in my thoughts and prayers.

    Julie Anna had a sparkle in her eye that I’ve never seen in anyone before or since. I find myself randomly thinking about her and there have been a few births I’ve managed over the last 5 years that I think she would have loved and I wished she could have been there. But yet, maybe she was, and that’s why I thought of her. Miss you so much Julie Anna!

    • Beautiful tribute, Lisa ❀ You know you were my first student midwife and warmed me up to take on Julie, Tammy and Tammy. I am glad you two had the experience you had in Columbia. Julie brought out the wild side in most of us πŸ˜€ Her spirit lives in us. I also "feel" her presence at births. I could write a book about the births she attended with me and made us laugh.

  2. Amazing – tonight for some reason, Julie was on my mind. Last year I finally built up the courage to delete the email message I received, telling me that she was gone. You see, Julie knew that I was very sick and never told me that she was in fact, sick also! When I didn’t hear from her I figured she was just busy being a midwife. But no, she didn’t want me worrying about her and never even said a word about her own illness. After midwifery school I left south Florida and never came back. When I called her to tell her about my health situation, she told me to come back to Florida and that we would figure out what to do together. If only I went back, we would have been there for each other – but that is who she was; strong and free. How I miss her!

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