It is with a heavy heart that I write this: my sweet friend Juliana passed away yesterday morning, on Valentine’s Day.
Juliana truly loved Jesus, and I am so thankful she is with Him now, experiencing the kind of joy and freedom that we can’t even imagine here on earth. Despite knowing that in my heart, I still feel a deep sadness that she is no longer here with us, and I feel utterly heartbroken as I think about what her husband and family are going through.
Juliana was, hands down, the most joyful, grateful, and optimistic person I have ever met. Her joy absolutely lit up a room. Anyone reading this who has met her knows exactly what I’m talking about. She battled cancer with such incredible grace and bravery, inspiring many along the way.
The last time I got to see Juliana was in December, at a friend’s wedding. We sat next to each other and talked about how much we loved the bride’s dress, and she told me how well she had been feeling recently. We chatted about work and marriage and life, and it is surreal to think that I will no longer be able to have those conversations with her. It makes me sad to think we will no longer be able to meet at Bar Louie for $5 burger night or text each other just to catch up.
Juliana was, and is, such a beautiful soul. While I feel heartbroken that I will not get to see her again this side of heaven, I do not grieve “as those who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Instead, I can cling to this promise:
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -Romans 8:38-39
What I’m feeling now is, I’m sure, just a fraction of the grief that her husband and family are experiencing. In the midst of sorrow, I am praying we would trust in our Savior who has looked death in the face for us and overcome it. I am praying that we would find joy in the gift of life on earth, while looking expectantly towards the life that is to come. I’m praying we would trust that God is wholly merciful and good, and that He will bring hope and comfort to His children in times of suffering.
I am reminded how fleeting this life is, and it is with a new awareness that I understand how our lives here are truly just a vapor (James 4:14). There will soon come a day when “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). Or, as Tim Keller writes, “Everything sad is going to come untrue, and it will somehow be greater for having once been broken and lost.” Oh, how I look forward to that day.
We love you, Juliana.