At Christmas 1992, on her first visit back home after the death of her sister
Julie, Jacqueline Jo (Jackie) Johnson sat at the computer and wrote the
following letter. Jackie's response to my request to place this letter on
Julie's "Memorial Page" was, "It would be a great honor."
This first Christmas without Julie, all of her family was "home" for the holiday. They traveled from Fort Wayne, Indiana; Ashland, Kentucky, and Metropolis, Illinois. It was in remembrance of Julie. We all stood around her grave in the snow and bitter cold wind and said a prayer for Julie and ourselves, then went to church.
Well, nearly 4 months have passed since you left us, and the pain is still the same. Some say it will fade, I have my doubts. We're into our first holiday season without your smile. I'm not sure which is more difficult, the season without you or writing this letter. I have so many things to say (to you) I don't know where to start. I've tried so hard to keep my head thru it all, some times it's just impossible. The tears I've cried have been many, and I know there are more to come. How does anyone deal with the pain of losing someone so dear as you my baby sister. I know it happens everyday, someone passes away and leaves the ones they love behind, but I never thought you'd leave me. I only find consolation in the fact that you're freed from the tribulations of this horrible life everyone seems to treasure so dearly. I find myslef so resentful, to whom I'm not sure, for taking such an innocent heart and soul as yours. God, the time I've spent blaming someone, anyone for letting this happen, from the drivers of the vehicles to God. I hope God will forgive me for the thoughts I've had, for I know he has a far greater plan than I can comprehend, but the pain is so great.
I'll never forget the day the phone rang at 5:30 am on Wednesday, August 12, 1992. I was only inches from the phone when it rang, but didn't want to pick it up. So Scott answered it. I knew something was wrong when I heard him say as I passed by to go to the bathroom, "What's the matter?" The first and only thought I had at that moment was that something had happened to Scott's grandma. Never in a million years wold I have thought "you." Again, it always happens to someone else.
When Scott told me there had been an accident the first one I thought of was grandma. He said "no," then I knew. All I could say was "Julie?" Please tell me she's not dead." He said "Yes, Jackie, it was fatal." Oh my God the pain that hit me. I got sick to my stomach and fell in the floor, for we were suppose to live forever "together." Then the pain for me was replaced with the pain for "MOM." I had to get home to her, I still had 6 hours to drive. I thought the pain I felt in that instant would never be comparable to any other pain. I was wrong. Now, reality has struck. Things will never be the same.
December 23, 1992 will mark the 22nd anniversary of the first Christmas you affected my life. Who would have thought that that little bundle in a Christmas stocking would have affected my life in so may ways. You started off with a bang though. I was so mad that I had to wait for mom to bring you home from the hospital to open my presents. Many holidays have come and gone, and now so are you. I would gladly wait to open gifts this Christmas, if only I knew you'd be coming home soon, but you're not and I don't want Christmas to come now, not without you here.
Why did it have to happen? I miss you so much at times, It seems I can't stand the pain I feel inside to know I'll NEVER spend another Christmas or even for that matter another moment with you. To see your beautiful smile, to make fun of Terry's socks and sweat suit, to eat salads with apple cider vinegar and LOTS of garlic salt, grandmas orange jello, or to yell "DINTENDO" or do car aerobics. I'm so sorry I got mad at you for spilling Strawberry Daiquiri on my comforter. You know I never got that out. But that's okay, because that's all I have now, along with a few articles of clothing and ALL my precious memories of you my baby sister.
My memories span thru so may phases of our lives, from the First Christmas you came home in that RED stocking to Last year at Christmas when I saw you for the last time. Is it not ironic that Christmas was the "first" time I saw you and the "last" time I saw you. I HATE CHRISTMAS NOW. I don't want it to come, Julie. What shall I do? What can I do? I never would have thought twenty two years ago that the anxiety I felt in waiting for you to come home would be replaced now with the pain this Christmas of 1992 knowing you won't.
Where do I start my dearest Julie Anne Johnson with the feelings I have. You don't know it but at your funeral there was a quartet that sang for and to you, I know you know the song, I think it was one of your favorite groups, but anyway they sang, "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday," by Boyz II Men. Since you've been gone they've had another smash, it's called "End of the Road." It was the song I heard on the radio that dreadful morning. I was in the shower getting ready to come home for all the wrong reasons. It came on and I thought I was going to collapse right there in the shower. A surge of pain came over me so strong I didn't think my legs would hold me up. The song talks about a man and a woman ending a relationship. But the words at the time and to this day represent everything I was feeling. The man talks about the woman never being down life's road but once, and it's only her first time at love and all the things life has to offer, and how they should be together forever, and when they realize they won't be hence comes the phrase "End of the Road." Well my baby, that horrible day marked the ed of the road for our relationship as we knew it. And for all who love you we can only hold our memories in our hearts and hope for a brighter day to arrive. I find myself resentful that you never had a chance at life and that it was only your first time to venture around the block and that you had your life snatched away in a seconds time. I guess maybe I'm more hurt that your life was taken away from me, I've always been the selfish type. I want to see you once again and hold you in my arms, kiss that beautiful face of yours and know you're all right. But that is not even a possibility now and it's not fair. I want you to know you are in my every thought, I dream about you, I cry about you, and I miss you more than you'll ever know.
Sweetheart, some things never change while others change so quickly. You grew up so fast it was unbelievable, but you never lost the spirit. I moved away, but never stopped loving you, while I always missed you as much as I loved you, I never seemed to tell you enough, but do we ever when we have the chance? How sad.
Now this letter comes a little too late and only to help me thru one of the hardest times in my life and not for the purpose of your reading pleasure. I am so sorry. I wish things could be different, but maybe better yet, I wish I could understand why it's not. Maybe someday when the fog of pain has disappeared and the storm of tears have subsided, I'll have a better clue, but for now I'm confused, hurt, angry and resentful of this great loss of mine and all those who love you baby. The things that have changed I can do nothing about, but the memories I have I'll treasure my whole life long. You know all the way home that day all I asked Scott was to let me see you one last time, I didn't care what condition you were in, I felt I had to see you, some may feel I wasn't right, but I didn't care. When I saw you, I didn't see the body in the casket, I saw all my memories that I have of you sweetheart. The very first thing I looked at was your hands. They were so precious. But as I saw you lay there in peace I knew it wasn't really you. You were still in my mind as I last saw you and how I saw you for twenty-one years as you grew into a woman. I'll never forget you or stop loving you but will always go on missing you each day of my life.
I LOVE YOU JULIE
I'll Lend You a Child