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love letters
before it's too late
by juli mccarthy

On a snowy Christmas Eve five years ago, a friend of mine stopped by the house to see me. She and I were in and out of one another’s homes quite frequently; our daughters were best friends, and we did a lot of work together on school committees and Girl Scouts. She was on her way to her parents’ house for dinner and wanted to drop off a Christmas gift.

We chatted in the front hallway for a few minutes. Then, out of the blue, she grabbed me in a fierce bearhug and said, “I want you to know that your friendship means a lot to me. I love you very much.” I was a little taken aback – we’d been friends for a couple years and while she was always kind and affectionate, she was not given to emotional displays.

Four days later, she was dead, the victim of a brain aneurysm. She was 43 years old.

Through my shock and grief, the memory of that unexpected hug kept returning to me. I still wonder if, somehow, she knew her days were running out. I wonder, when my time comes near, if I will have any warning. And I wonder if I will have the chance to tell the people in my life how much they mean to me.

You know what? It’s a chance I’m not willing to take.

I love you, my darling. From the moment I met you, I knew that I did not want to live another day without you in my life. You’ve been my strength, my pillar, my one true love. I love you today more than I ever loved you before, and I would do every minute of it over again. Thank you for believing in us, and for building this life we have. While no one came right out and said it, you know they never thought we’d last. We sure showed them. Forever doesn’t seem all that insurmountable when we can tackle it together. We’ll conquer it all, multiplied by the power of two.

I love you, my child. Every moment of your life has been a treasure to me. Watching you become your own person has been an amazing experience. Yes, I have high expectations for you, and I know that’s a burden sometimes, but your gifts are incredible ones and I know you will do them justice. Follow your heart, baby, because it’s a good, solid heart. And you ALWAYS make me proud.

I love you, Mom. It’s never been easy for you, but you always managed to hold it together somehow. When confronted with the choice of “fight or flight” you always go for fight. And you wonder why your kids are so stubborn… the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, does it?

I love you, Linda. We sometimes clash more than sisters should, but you need to know how proud I am of you and all you’ve done for yourself and your kids. Your wit and wherewithal are always an inspiration.

I love you, Chick. You have always been the child of my heart. I will continue to believe in you no matter what.

I love you, Michael John. I don’t know how or when my baby brother became my big brother, but I know that when the chips are down, you’re the one I want on my side.

I love you, Beth. My best friend, my sounding board, my creative catalyst and my “good twin.” Through joy and pain, always. We’re in it together.

I love you, Michael. My best friend, my first below-the-surface connection and my “evil twin.” I miss you, but I am so glad you have love to sustain you now. I’m still here.

I love you, Connie, Scott, Kathleen, Rick, Monti, Linda, Steve. This chosen family means so much to me. I am so grateful for the blessings of your friendship and love. It is permanently written on my body, but it’s even more deeply etched in my heart.

I love you, my faire friends, my summer family. Some of you don’t even know my name, and you’ll never know the many ways in which you’ve touched me. Thank you for the music, the laughter and those fleeting moments in the sun that keep me warm all year long.

I love you, my gypsy, my soul brother. The gift of you is one I will treasure in every lifetime.

I love you, Donna, Piers, Kathleen, Katherine, Marie – you gave me the tools to make my soul visible.

I love you, Tracey, Dan, Joe, Jael, Russ, Erik, Sarah, Michelle, Jeff, Mikey, Heather, Bobby, Brian, Adam, Roger, Jason, Matt. And Jack. ‘Nuff said.

I love you, my companions through this spiritual journey. Do we need the words? You’ve opened me to wonder and possibility.

So many absent friends: Karen, Lee, Alex, Darren, Stig, Rick, Dianne, Rob, Kevin, Scott, Yvette, Ronell, Tim, Christy, Michael (you’ll never be “Mike” to me.) And so many gone on before me – Paul, Barb, Marie, Juli K. You are still loved, and much missed. ALL of you are still a part of my life, even those of you who have chosen to move on.

Thank you all for being the loves of my life. You have made me what I am, and not one day goes by that I don’t count you in my blessings.

I just wanted you to know.


A whole gallon of attitude, poured into a pint container.

more about juli mccarthy


the second-to-last chapter
a long ride to the end
by juli mccarthy
topic: general
published: 2.4.04

pc? not me
a war of words
by juli mccarthy
topic: general
published: 4.13.05


jael mchenry
10.7.05 @ 2:40p

And we love you too! And we're trying not to cry!

What a lovely, heartfelt, brilliant piece. Thank you for sharing it with us.

mike julianelle
10.7.05 @ 3:05p

I bet Heather's crying too, but for a different reason.

juli mccarthy
10.7.05 @ 3:13p


juli mccarthy
10.7.05 @ 3:14p

Heather knows she's my sunshine. But there's always bound to be one name that slips the brain in the moment.

russ carr
10.7.05 @ 3:14p

Now, now, Juli; love means never having to say you're sorry...heh.

juli mccarthy
10.7.05 @ 3:17p

I didn't apologize; I merely fixed my oversight.

mike julianelle
10.7.05 @ 3:58p

Very touching column. If I only had a heart, I bet it'd be growing. And no worries, I'm sure Heather understands. She doesn't seem to mind when I forget her name.


heather millen
10.7.05 @ 3:59p

It's a lovely heartfelt tribute. Gives me the warm fuzzies to be included in it...

robert melos
10.9.05 @ 4:16a

Beautiful. My Aunt Mary once told me to tell the people you love that you love them, because you may not get the chance if you wait. You are so right in that same advice.

I love you too.

jeffrey walker
10.9.05 @ 8:54p

often I don't like being "touched" that much, but anyway, thanks, and the im fam loves you, too.

tracey kelley
10.14.05 @ 2:13a

I only missed this because I was away! Oh honey, this is tremendous. Love you, too.

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