Thursday, January 19, 2012


A few days after Jonah died I remembered an unusual moment from last summer. 

Jordan, Jonah and I were standing in line at a grocery store in Vernal.  As we moved forward to buy our groceries the checker looked at Jonah, smiling and swinging his legs.  Of course he starred intently at her, as he did with all new faces.  Our typical grocery store conversation began.

"What a beautiful girl" she said. 
"Thank you...actually he is a boy, this is his hearing aid, not a headband.  Everyone thinks he is a girl so don't feel bad."

I went on to explain a little about his hearing aid and his syndrome.  I had this conversation almost every time I went to the store.  Then the conversation changed. She began to tell me about her own son as she passed our produce over the scanner.  He had special needs, but she loved him intensely.  Speaking of him, she became emotional and told me that he passed away 13 years ago in a tragic accident. 

Why is she telling me this? I thought.  But I replied "I'm so sorry to hear that", not really knowing what to say, or what to do.  She wiped her tears, we both smiled at Jonah, then we paid and walked away. 

As we left the store a nagging feeling began to pull at my heart.  I should go back and tell her something, something that would make her feel better.  I quickly ignored this feeling and carried Jonah to the car.  I thought to myself I don't even know this woman, I don't know what she believes. Again the feeling came.  Again I ignored it.  I buckled Jonah in his car seat while Jordan put the groceries in the trunk. We began to drive away.  I felt a sickening regret pour over me as I continued to ignore the intense feeling.  Out of the blue I told Jordan to stop.  I felt so stupid.   This woman's life is none of my business, who am I to preach to her, who am I to tell her what to feel.  

I explained the situation to Jordan, and he turned around to park the car.  I began searching for a piece of paper and pen so I could write a message.  I tore a blank margin out of the Vernal Express and began writing...
I want you to know that I never do this kind of thing...
But as I left the store I had such a strong feeling that I needed to tell you something.  I want you to know that I believe that you will be with your son again.  I believe that even though life is hard God loves you and he knows you. 

There was no more room on my small scrap of paper.  I signed it and for some reason gave her my phone number.  I quickly jumped out of the car with my scrawled note.  Once inside, my stomach churned.  What am I doing?  I found the cashier busy working.  I tapped her on the shoulder and said "here, I want you to have this."  She looked confused, understandably.  I smiled, turned, and bolted out of the store to the comfort of my car.  I felt relief.  Relief that it was over, and relief that I wouldn't be nagged by my sympathetic heart for the rest of the day. We drove away and I soon forgot about the stress induced by my simple note. 

But after Jonah's funeral I remembered.  I remembered the words I had penned about eternal life, and about the love of God.  At the time I fully believed what I had written, as it applied to this humble woman.  Why had I felt so compelled to share my beliefs with her?  Why was I remembering this experience now? 

I have given a lot of thought to this memory and moment.  I will probably never know if or how it impacted her life.  She may have thrown the note away, she may have been angry, or it may have given her peace.  I hope it is the latter. 

Most of all I think that note was for me.  I think God knew that I would need reassurance in the months ahead.  He knew that I would need to be reminded of the depth of my belief.  He knew he should remind me that at some point in my life I believed in Him so much that I felt compelled to share His message of love and eternal families with a total stranger.  That little scrappy note and the simple message it bore has helped me remember that I believe that God knows and loves me, and that I will be with Jonah again.  I cannot wait for that day. 

John 14:26
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. 

Jonah's first time in the grocery cart. 

Click here to read one of my favorite messages about remembering.


  1. Julie,
    Ever since I have heard the news about Jonah, I kept thinking "I need to do something to let her know I am thinking of her. I need to write, to call, to send, to..." But, here it is. Time has passed and I am late. Julie, I just haven't known what to say. Do I tell you that I sob as I read your words because you are living my worst nightmare? Do I tell you that I think of you when I lay down at night, wondering if you are okay? Do I tell you that although I never met Jonah, I think of him almost every time I feed Ella (who is 14-months-old.) Do I tell you that I try to live a better life because of you? I don't know. I just don't want to say the wrong thing. There is something about being a mother that bonds us all together. For example, when my children are screaming in the middle of the store and as I pass other mothers in the aisle, they smile and nod, which I know means..."I understand and you will make it through". We just have these connections...these understandings. Julie, I am not claiming to know the pain, grief, sadness, and even clarity and understanding you have found during this experience. But I still feel connected to you because what I do understand is the indescribable feeling of love a mother has for her children. The obvious and undeniable love that you have for Jonah. I grieve with you, I learn from you, I am inspired by you, and I find hope with you. I saw your mom this last week and she reminded me that it's not too late. I hope she's right and I hope that I did know what to say after all.
    Jill Bell

  2. You don't know me, but I came across your blog through a friend and I just wanted you to know that I have been deeply touched by your words. I have sat and wept as I have read through your blog. I am a mother of two beautiful children, an almost 4 year old daughter and a 16 month old son. I just wanted you to know that you have given me a renewed appreciation of how blessed I am to be a mother, despite how difficult it can be at times, and I thank you for that. I am so sorry for your loss, and hope that you find continued peace and comfort through this most difficult time. -Mackenzie

  3. What a beautiful story, Julie. I am so glad you followed your heart and went back to give her the note. (((jules)))

  4. Julie-

    I am the writer of the Blog His Struggle, My Struggle. I saw your blog as a traffic source and I have spent a significant amount of time, late at night, reading your story.

    The name of your blog is one of my favorite song lyrics. I think of it often, especially now that I hide in my heart my own sorrows.

    I'm so sorry about the loss of your little darling. So sorry.

    You are a beautiful writer[& woman.] I loved what you said about your job interview, that it's too bad we can't put our best moments as a mother on our resume, because they are what make us.

    I look forward to more of your uplifting words. Take care blogger friend-


  5. Jonah is such a sweetheart. You are all so blessed to have each other as a family- though my heart aches for you that you have to be separated right now :(.
    Thank you for recording these memories. Last night was rough for me as a "new mom" and I was feeling ungrateful and frustrated. I'm so glad I found your blog. You inspire me to embrace my role, even during hard moments, and cherish the privilege of being a mother. Sending love to you and Jordan.