Down...But Not Out

In the process of going through some old computer files, I stumbled across a letter written by Julie to one of her sisters during a moment of great vulnerability.

It hurt to read it, remembering well the time period during which it was written and the rawness of emotion revealed by her words. In fact, I was inclined to "bury" the letter...written a year and a couple of weeks after Julie suffered her almost fatal first major lupus flare eleven years ago...a year and a couple of weeks that she spent confined to bed, as weak as the proverbial kitten.

However, moments after reading the letter, my file search promptly unearthed a subsequent letter. Written barely two months following the first, the January letter reveals the indomitable spirit that was Julie A. Newell...accepting an NEA committee position that would serve as a springboard for her greatest personal achievements...her historic election to the IMRF Board of Trustees and her election to three terms on the IEA Board of Directors, including a year as a member of the IEA Executive Committee. All of this after seemingly being knocked "down for the count".

Thus, the posting of the letter...

(Once again, I chose to do some minor editing for confidentiality purposes.)

I have recounted this time period shock and disbelief when Julie professed her intent to return to work the following month, when her leave of absence from the school district was due to expire. We knew quite well that there would be no extension, having "snookered" the school district out of an extra month when my research of their policy manual indicated that their calendar year for such leave began September 1st instead of August 1st.

Ha ...I remember well, telling Julie "Honey, there's no way..." Oh, me of little faith!

Oh, she "crawled" before she walked...using a cane and her aforementioned wheelchair when traveling. But...twasn't long before Julie would challenge her more physically capable colleagues to keep up to her pace.

And it all began with the following letter...again, only a couple of months after being so obviously emotionally and physically down:

Julie lived up to her adopted motto..."Rest if you must, but don't you quit."

Give Julie a ray of a chance to be on a national committee...a chance to travel...a chance to serve, and she would leave her troubles behind.

Julie lived for the opportunity to share her joy of life with lift those around her by word or by deed.

Given Julie's example, how could we "beg off" with some lame excuse that paled before the challenges faced and overcome by Julie every day of her final decade on earth?

In short, Julie lived...and we were all better for it.