Published in The Times Colonist from Nov. 8 to Nov. 10, 2018
Dear Julie, who meant so much to so many... there is no way to sum up your many facets in this small space, but let us try: brave mother, beloved sister and aunt, true friend. Passionate public servant and supporter of the arts. Anglican Oblate and Honorary Lay Canon.
But also - voracious reader, writer, and list-maker. Secretive, prolific poet. Brilliant pianist. World traveler, seeker of great beauty. Lover of nature, animals, humanity, laughter. A fiercely independent, deeply spiritual and wildly imaginative thinker, feeler and do-er. Activist, compassionate philanthropist. Our moral compass. All who knew you will be forever touched by your soul and magic, your boundless curiosity for all of life's treasures and marvels, your trust in the innate goodness of others.
A celebration of Julie's life will be held at 2 pm on Saturday, November 24, 2018 at St. Peter's Lakehill Anglican Church in Victoria, BC. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Victoria Hospice, whose staff and volunteers so tenderly cared for Julie in her last days, or to an arts or humanitarian charity of your choosing.
photo and soundscape by Claude Schryer
Here is a photo of Julie taken last July in her garden, used here by permission. I found it among an exquisite outpouring of tributes and thoughts about Julie on Facebook after she died recently. She had our trust, our respect and our affection.
Friends describe a shrine in her honour made by William Lau at Mountain View Night for All Souls (the annual community event led by Paula Jardine and Marina Szijarta). I couldn't attend but have no difficulty at all understanding why those who did found it apt.
I would like to know a language that has a name for what Julie was and did. You can see from the many descriptions of her on Facebook that her art was deeply valued, cherished and specific. Yet what was its' name?
What Julie did was certainly musical (she was a pianist) -her voice on the page, her language in conversation, her capacity to understand and love the elusive art of dance and its practitioners all had a flow and rich complexity that was inherently musical.
And visual. I think of a box full of cards and letters received when Blake and I were married. From Julie and her - then little - daughter Lucy came an image of a painting of a landscape, glued onto a piece of folded handmade paper, containing a few warm, well chosen words. It seemed effortless; thoughtful, generous and it hit the spot. Of the whole box, I kept this one card and have looked at it from time to time over the decades. It was beautiful, outstandingly so, in a way I couldn't pin down. Julie got beauty.
But what is the word for her partnering? How was she able to go so deeply, deliciously, encouragingly into our art and effort? Where did that superb capacity to speak what we were doing, and to reach into the beating heart of things and to actually hear, feel and advocate for us come from? (She wrote poetry). I have met no one else who could do this, let alone do it so modestly and with such humour, strategy and pragmatism. Like her gait, her speech had a deliberate quality. Her voice was clear and it was considered. She liked gardens. She loved, wrote - and well, was, really - poetry.
Our sporadic conversations spanned 3 decades, punctuated entire epochs in our personal lives, and took place through many different roles in our respective lives.
I see that she was a friend as well as advocate to very many dance artists, especially from the west coast, and I am sure that many had similiar friendships with her - a polestar in our lives. Helping, inflencing. Our last conversation touched on plans - Russia, Lucy, (marriage of) gardens, and her bouts with ill health, which defined her not at all.
And now, next to the wedding card and a couple of superbly written letters i have this most recent and final letter to her friends, circulated among them. i am so grateful for this last touch of her, that someone shared it with me, and her wise, kind, beautiful way. Everything about how she handled this production of leaving seems so well done, thoughtful, ardent and understated. Her close friends - who shared the information with us - did her proud.
What a gal. what to say. i wish, really wish, that she were here.