In the early morning hours of March 14, 1998, my precious niece, Julie Anne Lawrence, was killed in a car accident, exactly one month and one day before her 19th birthday. She had been visiting friends and had called her parents on her cell phone to tell them she was on her way home. When she didn't arrive in a normal amount of time they began looking for her. They found her only a few miles from home. Her car had left the road and collided with a tree. The officers who came to the scene and the coroner all said that it appeared that she had fallen asleep. They felt that she was probably asleep on impact and for that I thank God. It would make sense that she was sleep deprived. She went to college full time, worked part time, sang with a group from her college called The Shelton Singers, and was very active in her church.
When Julie was born, she looked just like a baby bird. Not one of a feathered, fluffy age, but a tiny new born bird, with no feathers, and little limbs and beak sticking out. She was long and skinny, with big hands and feet, and a big nose. That baby bird grew into a beautiful swan.
While I will not paint my niece as a saint, she had her share of human faults, she was one of the most gentle and loving people I have ever known. She loved her family and friends. She loved animals. She loved to sing and had a voice like an angel. She loved God and was very committed to Him.
Julie and I both liked the musical group, "The Cranberries", and had talked about the song "When You're Gone" being the favorite of both of us. I find that ironic now, as the song tells of things no longer being right when the loved one is gone. And also ironic is the fact that the album this song is on is called "To the Faithful Departed". Just one of those little coincidences that happen maybe? Maybe not. Maybe God gave Julie and me a song to share in life, something that could tie us together, even after she was gone.
Julie had the softest, palest skin when she was little. I used to rub her forehead and call her "my sweet child with the marble forehead" because her forehead was so smooth and white, like marble...and because she could be hard-headed, hard as marble! But, mostly I called her that because she was so sweet and precious. Every time I called her that she would giggle like I had just told the funniest joke in the world. Even after she got older, I'd sometimes still call her that, just to tease her.
When Julie was about 3, she loved the color pink. Apparently we had given pink too much attention with her, giving her pink things, etc. because one day when one of my other nieces received something pink, Julie cried and cried, saying "No, pink is MINE, pink is MINE!". I always thought that was cute. It's one of my favorite Julie stories.
Julie loved Barbie dolls and collected them until the day she died. Even though they are "worth" more as collectibles if the packages remain unopened, and the clothes have never been removed, even as a teenager Julie couldn't resist doing this. The first thing she did when she got one was undress and dress it. She didn't collect them for a profit someday. She just loved Barbie. My sister, Kathryn, found a "Sleeping Beauty" Barbie and she was buried holding it. I thought that was very appropriate for Julie. She was indeed a sleeping beauty the day we buried her body.
Julie accomplished her goals in life, despite the struggles of having both ADHD and OCD. She played sax in the school band in Junior high and was the band's drum major for 3 consecutive years in high school. She marched with "The Million Dollar Band" at the University of Alabama, and was a Shelton Singer at Shelton State College. She won many singing competitions as well. I'm sure she is still using that angelic voice to sing in the Heavenly Choir. Angels usually earn wings and a harp. Julie may be the only angel in Heaven who requests wings and a sax!
Losing Julie has been hard. To get through this pain, I hold onto the things she taught me by example. She taught me to never give up, even when the odds are stacked against me. She taught me to live for the moment. She taught me to say, I love you, as often as I can, because it may be my last chance to say that to someone. She taught me to meet life head on. She taught me to laugh long and loud. She reminded me that Jesus is real, and that He does care. She made me realize that I am stronger than I ever thought I could be. She taught me not to be afraid of death. She showed me that there truly is an afterlife and that it is wonderful. She speaks to me from it in my heart. She taught me that time and space are not enough to separate us from the ones we love, that love endures and never dies.
You can send email to Carol at: [email protected]
anniversary date 03-14-98
date of post 08-19-98