Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Sunset in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Watching a brillant sun set in a sky filled with smoke from fires burning in Albuquerque, New Mexico, this past weekend brought thoughts of other sunsets I have remembered.
I remember watching the sunset just hours before my father died.  
It was one of the most beautiful I had ever seen.
As the sun settled behind his beloved view of the Monument, I could only think of the beauty that surrounded us as we said our sad good-byes.

I did not note the sunset on the night my daughter died.
I did not know that as the sun set on May 28th, 2010, 
my life would be forever changed when the sun rose on May 29, 2010.
On that day, my beloved Julie would leave this world at her own hand and pass on the next.

Thus began what would be "the dark night of the soul" for me.

One evening, as I sat writing in my journal, and reading, I had pondered the setting of sun on another day of grief.  My husband had sat nearby for days on end as I wrote, cried, and read. 
He allowed the time, and he gave me to support, to grieve the best way I knew how.
Wondering when and if this darkness would ever lift, I read these lines in A Grace Disguised, How the Soul Grows through Loss by Jerry Sittser:
...the quickest way for anyone to reach the sun and the light of day is not to run west, chasing the setting sun, but to head east, plunging into the darkness until one comes to the sunrise.

This spoke to me.
I knew it was truth.

Sittser also writes of his own experience of healing when he says,
I knew that running from the darkness would only lead to greater darkness later on.  I also knew that my soul had the capacity to grow - to absorb evil and good, to die and live again, to suffer abandonment and find God.  In choosing to face the night, I took my first steps toward the sunrise.

This past weekend, my husband and I met with my sister Suzanne and her husband John in Santa Fe, New Mexico to spend some time together for rest, relaxation, and to build relationships.
Suzanne and John were such supports to us when Julie died.
John conducted and preached her beautiful, sensitive, and healing memorial service.
All of us will always be grateful to him for that.  
It seemed only fitting that we would meet together two years later in a place that is so loved by me  and my husband, and one they had never explored before.

While we were there, I ran across some beautiful kinetic sculptures.
I had seen a similar sculpture that 
Linda at Linda Letters had placed in her garden as a memorial to her mother and uncle.
With our impending relocation, I knew I wanted to do a similar thing.  (Thank you, Linda for the idea.)
We found the perfect sculpture at Mark White Fine Art in Santa Fe.

It is called "Trancer"
It is currently being crafted for us and will be shipped to us in about a month.

Julie had a mythical perfect man.
His name is Bob.
When we see 8:08 on a digital clock, we are reminded of Julie and her Bob.

After I had made my selection with the help of the kindest man,
I asked for his name again.
"Bob," he replied.
The tears flowed.
I knew my choice was right.

Julie, I know how much you suffered in this life.
I also know that you brought great joy and happiness to so many who loved you.
There are so many who love and miss you.
You broke our hearts.
We will forever miss you,
but we also hope you are free of pain and suffering.

We will always remember our beloved Jules,
who made us smile, 
who brought us such joy.
You were like our own little sprite:
A small or elusive supernatural being; an elf or pixie.

I hope this kinetic sculpture will always remind us of all the good and lighthearted things you brought to our lives.
My beloved daughter, you have always been a blessing.

In loving memory of

Julie Ann Christiansen

April 8, 1976 - May 29, 2010

Into the freedom of wind and sunshine
We let you go
Into the dance of the stars and the planets
We let you go
Into the wind's breath and the hands of the star maker
We let you go
We love you, we miss you, we want you to be happy
Go safely, go dancing, go running home.

Ruth Burges

*Please go to my daughter Keicha's blog if you wish to see a beautiful photo tribute to Julie. 


Linda Reeder said...

I feel honored to have been able to read this post, let alone be mentioned in it. It feels almost an invasion of your privacy, and yet I know you publish your grief as a way to heal, so I will willingly share some of it.
Such a beautiful tribute.

Jackie said...

After reading this blog with tears in my eyes, I went to Keicha's blog. It is a beautiful photographic tribute to your sweet daughter.
Love and hugs to you,

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Oh Sally, I know this weekend/week has been hard for you. So glad that you were able to get away for a few days. Gorgeous picture...

I'm glad you can write about your pain --since that is part of your healing process. Love the sculpture...

God Bless You, Sweet Sally.

Terra said...

You are brave and wise to share your story of loss and heartbreak and then of growth and moving forward. The kinetic sculpture will be a lovely addition to your garden.
The poem and the book quotes in your post are very profound.

Kay said...

This is such a beautifully written, from the heart post, Sally. We are all feeling with you. I loved the idea when I saw it on Linda's blog. I think it will be a beautiful memorial of remembrance of Julie that the whole family will love.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Sally, this is a beautiful post. I love the sculpture you have chosen, and the way it expresses the thoughts and the verse you've quoted...dancing, flying, being lighthearted...and its roundness echoes sun and the planets. Hugs on this difficult day of remembrance.

Grandmother said...

Lovely tribute to your daughter and I love the sculpture. I hope it signifies your healing.

Arkansas Patti said...

Such an achingly beautiful post Sally. I so admire your courage and how you manage to cope with the worst pain imaginable.

DJan said...

I had already read Keicha's post and looked at all the pictures many times. (I would have left a comment but I couldn't think of anything to say.)

This one, however, has had me in tears throughout the entire reading of it. Linda came up with an idea that is being spread through the love we have for our departed loved ones. It's so beautiful and perfect.

Thank you for sharing your healing tears with me, Sally. And thank you for writing something so very beautiful.

rosaria williams said...

Most touching! The sculpture will always remind you of that beautiful soul.
I'm redoing my garden with a similar thought in mind. I still have not found a sculpture/art piece to celebrate Brian's life. It will show up some day, and I have just the place identified where it will shine on.

Hugs and kisses to you and your family.

Olga said...

This touched my heart. There are signs that our angels can still be with us.

becca said...

beautiful sunset

"Auntie" sezzzzzz... said...

My husband had sat nearby for days on end as I wrote, cried, and read.
He allowed the time, and he gave me to support, to grieve the best way I knew how.

What a wonderful husband you have. To be so understanding. He certainly must have been doing his own grieving too.

Gentle hugs...

KathyA said...

One of the greatest joys on our trip was flying toward the sunrise -- so very true and moving about flying toward the future.

Your recent coincidence (Bob) reminds me of a book I just finished yesterday: WHEN GOD WINKS. It's an easy read and you might find it helpful. Blessings, Kathy

Jeanie said...

This is a beautiful expression of both the grief and the joy in your memories, Sally. I think the sculpture is a wonderful idea and I hope it will be a comfort to you as you continue this journey.

Linda Myers said...

It's a lovely tribute - both the art piece and your words. Thank you for sharing both.

LC said...

I am amazed and blessed by how you continue to turn your pain into thoughts, words, images and objects of beauty and healing. And including accounts of your experiences past and present with individuals who have helped you in this journey is an inspiring tribute to the power of love and to your beloved daughter.

Thank you for linking to Keicha's poignant and moving photographic memorial.

Rita said...

This is a tribute to your daughter and to your own grief and healing process. Honest and true. Bless you!! :)

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Sally, your post is so beautiful. I love the part about going through the darkness to the new dawn.

It looks like Linda has really started something wonderful ... now you will have something to take to your new home and your new yard as a memorial to Julie. I am praying for you today.


Kathy M.

Thisisme. said...

Sally, you wrote these words so beautifully and I was truly touched. Your love for your beautiful daughter will live on for ever, and I count it as a privilege when you talk about her, and I am able to read those words. I hope that, as you write them, they may bring you some comfort for all that you have lost. That is a beautiful sculpture that will sit proudly in Julie's Memorial Garden. They say that God moves in mysterious ways, and when you said that the kind man was called Bob, well, as you say, you know that you made the right choice. I am glad that you spent that time with your with your sister and brother in law. The healing process goes on my friend, and I send prayers and blessings your way. Please take care.

Barb said...

I'm thinking of you, Sally, as you grieve and remember Julie. Your sculpture is a perfect reminder of her life.

#1Nana said...

A beautiful tribute to Julie. I so admire how you are able to express your grief and the courage that it takes to share that with all of us.

Mage said...

What a beautiful honor. Hugs.

Jeanie said...

This is a powerful and beautiful post, Sally. I'm glad you could spend this sacred day with dear friends and I'm so glad you found this beautiful sculpture which indeed, seems as though it was made for you.

I can say only that I, too, mourn your loss -- not for myself, for I didn't know Julie in person, but for the person I have met on your blog and Keicha's, and for all of you who loved her so much.

Linda said...

A lovely tribute and a beautiful and touching post. Thank you so much for sharing, Sally. Sending you hugs across the miles.

Dee said...

Dear Sally, this memorial to Julie took my breath aways. Literally. I'm so grateful to the Universe that you had that book and that you had the support of all those who love you and Julie as well. And I'm so relieved that in facing all this you have found the essence of who your daughter was for you and her whole family. Peace.

Sandi said...

Oh Sally, I can barely see to write, but want to say "Thank you" before I go to Keisha's blog.

I love the idea of a sculpture as a memorial. The one you are having made is beautiful.

Blessings and light be with you, Sally.

Love, Sandi

troutbirder said...


Keicha said...

I know you and I talked about Sittser's book when you were reading it, but I had forgotten what he wrote about plunging into the darkness. I'm going to share those words with my suicide survivors support group this week. They really are true. Thank you for reminding me. XO

Heidrun Khokhar said...

May the hurt lessen as time moves along. Your pain is still so very raw. But the idea of of the tribute you picked is as lovely as the Julie you keep describing to us. God Bless

Cape Cod Kitty said...

Such a beautiful and intimate tribute to your dear Julie, Sally. You are such a positive person and I always feel so enriched by reading your words. The heartache is so profound in your words, and I am most certain in your soul, yet, you take yourself to places, and find ways to honor the grief.
I love your choice of art and am sure you must have had a great time in SF. I love it there and remember walking down that wonderful road with all the art galleries and I even found lots of cats roaming around, too, as well, as savoring all the great food!

Joanne said...

Oh Sally What a beautiful post. The fact that the man that was helping you with the sculpture is named Bob is indeed a sign that that beautiful piece of art has go go home with you!
Blessings, Joanne