"I heard you were back in
the hospital again, which completely sucks, and I hope that when you read
this you are at home again with Andy and Abby… It was
wonderful spending the afternoon with you last month. We talked about both
relatively inconsequential, newsy stuff (e.g., Are you ready for school?
How was Ethan's wedding?) and more philosophical stuff (e.g., God), but
I never really got up the courage to tell you how much I love you. Love
isn't a subject that gets talked about a lot in my family. We expect each
other to be mindreaders — and we're pretty good at it — but it's a lot to expect
from our friends. One of the things I've always loved and admired (and
envied) about you is your incredible openness of expression—in love, anger,
forgiveness, and friendship. I've met lots of people over the years whom
I've liked, but you are one of my favorite people in the whole world. I
February 6, 1996
...And the thing is, we had a very strange relationship but it was so good. Strange, because you are so much older than I am (and I don't even know how much older. What were you, thirty-three?)... I mean, I actually went to dinner with you the night before Abby was born. That is so special to me. Remember when we used to go out to dinner? We did it all the time, and lunch too. Once we went to that performance at Newton North after dinner at Bertucci's, and once when you weren't going to be transferred back to Day and you were pissed, we went to Bertucci's for lunch. You always got a chicken Caesar salad and loved the rolls, and I planned to visit you soon with Becca and bring take-out from Bertucci's. It was going to be the food you always had when we went out and it was going to be special.
And I wondered sometimes, especially before Abby was born and you were trying so hard to adopt a baby, if you thought of me like a friend or a sister or a daughter. I hope that I felt like your daughter in some ways, because you won't be with Abby when she is a teenager and you deserve to experience some of that. I hope I was something important for you. You always called me Sweetie and I loved that. And when we talked on the phone you always said "I love you" at the end and I don't know if I told you but I love you too. I am so glad that I know you and that we were friends even after you got sick, and I'm going to miss you so much...
...It was that year, my sophomore year, that was my favorite year of our friendship. It was right before the cancer came back, right after you came back to work. That was when you celebrated being one year cancer-free, and the year Sophia and Abby were born. That was the year we went out for lunch a lot. I remember in the spring when you were on maternity leave (or maybe you'd already come back to work... yeah, I guess you had, but you had Abby in school with you) and you offered me a ride home one day and in the car, in the Newton North parking lot, you said, "I've got cancer." You told me before you told my parents, and I think before you told Marj, but that doesn't seem right. And I didn't tell my parents until you did, and I felt so special that you trusted me. And I still never thought you'd die. This whole time I didn't think you would die. When I saw you two weeks ago I didn't think so, even though you looked different and you used a walker and your hand shook when you lifted the fork to your mouth. I noticed that. I noticed that your cheeks were fatter [from the steroids] and it surprised me. I miss your curly hair, long like in eighth grade or shorter like a few years ago. I miss your crew cut hair from the day we went to see "Aladdin" with Becca and Rachel. I miss you so much already.
I want to remember all your stories. You told the best stories. I love the story about [when you were in high school], standing up in the middle of English class and making noise. I can't remember how you phrased it, something about [your] teacher saying, "Juliet, I always knew you were crazy." But damn, you are one of the most sane, wonderful people I know. I love that you tried smoking pot to get rid of the sickness of chemotherapy, and that when the social worker came to look at your house before you adopted Abby, you and Andy were like, "Quick! Hide the drugs!" I am glad that Abby has your last name, and I'm glad that you used to say, "When Andy and I have another child, it will have his last name." I love that you saw yourself in Abby's future, and when I was applying to college and talking about how crazy my parents were being, you said, "I know I'll be the same way."
I miss sitting on your floor and talking to you, and I miss looking at Andy's portfolio with you and admiring the half-finished mural on the soon-to-be nursery wall. I miss the "90210" updates I gave you the first summer you were in the hospital (I still have all your letters) and talking to you about everything. We had wonderful conversations. I miss being at Borders Bookstore with you and Heather and my mom. I miss cleaning your screened-in porch last summer. I want to call you again and tell you it's me and hear your tired, semi-hoarse voice say "Hi, Sweetie."
...You [died] at home and you were dreaming. That seems so perfect for you. I'm still in awe that you could have a baby and that you spent the last two years with her. You have rallied in so many ways and the way you died is like that too. Fuck the hospice and the statistics; you held on longer than most people do. And I think what I'm in awe of is that you lived it; you didn't wallow or pity yourself, and every time I talked to you, you sounded happy. Except for the days you told me you were sick, the one time in your car and another last November when they found tumors in your neck, you were happy. I will miss that a lot...
I hope I don't cry while I'm reading at the memorial on Friday. I hope, if you are reincarnated already, you are still in the womb, semi-conscious, and that part of your soul is still free to watch the ceremony. You will see how much everyone loves you… I know you are alive again somewhere, and I hope you stay Juliet long enough to read this letter or just to know the things I wanted you to know.
(Now you say, "I love you, Sweetie," and I don't get embarrassed by hearing you say that. I handle it perfectly and I say, "I love you, too." That's how I wish it ended for us.)
"...I'm really glad I got to see you — even if briefly — when you were in California for Ethan's wedding. As always, I felt a warm and heartfelt connection with you. This time, especially, I was touched by your honesty, integrity, and openness. Not that I haven't noticed these qualities before. This visit, though, I was particularly struck by how clearly and groundedly you seem to be living your life, cancer and all. Thanks for that. It's inspiring me to try to live more openly in all the parts and experiences — scary, joyful, and otherwise — of my own world, too. I have no words for the rest of what I want to say... I have enclosed a heart full of love and hope with this card..."
"...You were a dear friend to me in New York — one of the smartest, most interesting, funniest people I've ever known. I remember you as simply extraordinary. Do you remember when we went to see that awful John Cage concert? Or the croissant shop at Columbus Circle where we used to meet? Whenever I'm in New York, I go by that shop and think of you.
I remember how happy, delighted I was when I introduced you to my best friend and you thought he was as special as I did. I know you've had great happiness in your marriage. I'm sorry about what you've been through these last years... and glad you've had Andy and Abby in your life.
I'm proud to have known you, Juliet."
"I met Juliet in Camp Kinderland in 1975. She and I both sang and played the guitar, so we had much in common. She taught me Joni Mitchell's The Cirle Game. It became the song of that summer. I think of her when I hear it. I hear it in my head when think of her. Reading those letters she wrote from camp reminded me of how intense those summers at camp were. It was like cramming a whole 'normal year' into eight quick weeks. You could go through five boyfriends in a summer (it looks like Juliet went through four in the first four weeks!) and that wouldn't be a big deal. Oh, and everything was very, very dramatic. Everyone was in everyone else's business and everyone had advice for the lovelorn. The Camp Kinderland is having its 75th anniversary celebration this Saturday (5/15/99). I am going to print out Juliet's letters from Kinderland and bring them to show everyone so they can share in the memories of Juliet."
Michelle "Mishy" M.
"I'm one of those people who met Juliet at Camp Kinderland. Except for Peter, I remember all of the people Juliet mentioned in her letters from camp. I'm still in touch with most of them! As a matter of fact, 'that guy Reuben' is my cousin. One of my favorite memories of Juliet is a weekend that she, Mishy (who has remained my best friend all this time) and I spent together, hanging out in the city. All weekend long, we would sidle up to each other and sing the Beatles Do You Wanna Know a Secret? in each other's ears. Juliet was always singing. She is responsible for bringing the song Circle Game by Joni Mitchell to camp where it continues to be a standard in the Kinderland line-up. I'd bet that none of the kids today know that. In later years, Juliet and I drifted apart. I kept up with what was happening in her life through Reuben. They stayed in touch all through the years. I shared in her ups and downs, though we never spoke. I really wish we had, but we always think we have all the time in the world. I guess I didn't."
February 6, 1998
Snow angels. It's February and I've been in this house now for a little over six years, the last two without Juliet. I was thinking about snow angels and how funny it is to see Abby, all of three feet tall, plopping down into the snow, flopping her arms around, and then trying hard to get up again without falling. And it reminded me of Juliet. Our first winter here was after the discovery of the cancer and the hysterectomy. One night in January, it had been snowing and snowing. And it was one of these snows where, once the sidewalks are covered, you can't really tell how deep the snow is. Three inches and twelve inches look about the same when everything outside is white. Juliet was excited about the snow, about the liklihood that there would be a snow day the next day and no school (An aside: Teachers are just as bad as the kids about wanting snowdays. We used to be in bed at night, in the dark, singing "Let it Snow" in hopes of bringing on enough snow for Newton to finally close the doors... Juliet would start it and then end with a little extra flourish...) So, we decided to go outside and play. It was late at night and nothing was moving anywhere. We got on our coats and boots and went down to the garage. And when we opened the garage door, we started laughing because the snow was deeper than we thought. MUCH deeper. And Jules was short. So there we were, out trudging through the snow, holding hands. And then she wanted to make a snow angel. And down she plopped, moving her arms up and down to make the wings. Except... now she couldn't get up because her stomach muscles were still very weak from having been sliced during the operation. Much laughter as I'm trying hard to get her up without falling over myself... A nice memory for me. And I have lots.
"When Juliet began team-teaching with me at the high school, I was a bit intimidated at first. She seemed so self-assured and decisive... We ended up having a wonderful teaching relationship... I also appreciated her love of literature. She was the only person I have ever known who loved The Great Gatsby as much as I do and could actually quote it! When I think of words to describe Juliet, these come to mind:
And, in general, a powerhouse! I'm going to miss Juliet's strength and her sarcastic sense of humor... To Juliet, everything was always 'lovely' and that's how I'll always remember her."