June 6, 2008 at 8:07 am 29 comments

Julia Ji Hye Mendelson

May 29th, 1983 (Seoul, South Korea)

May 31st, 2008 (Jerusalem, Israel)

This has been an incredibly hard week, and I’ve circled about this eulogy, one second confused, angry, incredibly sad, and the next second circumspect and numb. I want this to mean something for myself, but more importantly for Julia– as she spent so much of her time and life here writing to thousands of unknowns sharing some of the most important pieces of herself with them. Even now, I hear her voice, whispers behind my ear, encouraging me to live, to love, to be happy, to share something with the world that she so dearly cared about. And she did care about it – even as it tore her apart cell by cell, as she endured unimaginable pain, experimental treatments, and heroic recoveries, she still loved the world.

There has been a deluge of support, voices coming alive to celebrate Julia’s “light”. Even as I walk in the shadow of the sun, feeling like all is black, Julia’s light has somehow urged me on to share what I know of her to a community that does care, that really must care. I can speak to you about a million stories of her life that I came to know; of her thoughts that shout in my mind, and swirl like an angry storm, wanting only her back to me, to us. I have thousands of words written about her, and after writing it all, I realized it means so very little; it doesn’t capture her for everything that she was and everything she meant. There is no light in those words.

As adoptees we are imprinted, seared by a neuro-chemical branding sense of loss. Yet again I burn, raw flesh and acrid smoke filling my soul, but still empty and without understanding. Julia salved those wounds of loss not only for myself but for many out there, even as she endured her own gaps and the failures of many people to return what she so willing gave. She spoke of herself, but never just for herself. She put words and expressions to things that we merely think about in that early morning quiet, that both calms and terrifies those of us who have been there. And more importantly she did it so amazingly, encapsulating truisms about human nature and simplicity itself, without complex metaphors or conceits, humbly, carefully, truly herself. That’s what we have left to hold onto.

So let me simplify as well, and speak to a couple of things that I did know, that I was blessed to feel; to her love and to her gentleness.

Can I tell you about her love? The kind that stirs shadows, that breaks your heart because you know you can never return the purity of its soul. Even when love stood so far away, she hugged it fiercely back, shared it, gave it, and never demanded it in return. I’m not sure where she learned to love in such an instantaneous way, with such confidence and without doubts. Ranaan told me; last year Julia took him to a somewhat forgotten cemetery near her house in Jerusalem. She was upset that no one had visited, and following Jewish custom to place a stone on each grave to show that it had been remembered and visited; she bought a large bag of rocks, and walked Ranaan around for more than an hour placing them on each. Will some beautiful person return the favor on her grave? Will people remember her love, and will people release themselves unhinged, unhindered, un-entangled by life’s nonsensical complexity to love like her? That’s what she would’ve wanted.

Words shy like faded colors describing Julia’s gentle heart. It fluttered on butterfly wings, gorgeous, present, but never demanding or invading. Her fault was her inability to fault others, to default herself for the comfort of the “other”, never for appreciation or applause. She saw the world in all its harsh reality; hateful, wrathful, diseased and imperfect, and embraced it ever so gently, not letting its spiky bards prick and change her.

Julia never raised her voice, even as she endured hateful things said to her as a misplaced daughter, as an Asian, as a Jew, as a contemplative but contented adoptee in a community that continuously questions and battles, as a sick person among healthy, as my friend, as my lover. Yet she never raged, never lashed out, but swallowed all the darkness and locked it away, protecting those whom she loved from it. She did the same with the pain of her illness – saying, “John, you are my pain relief,” – but no amount of me nor Dilaudid could equal her gentle grace. It was constant and enfolding, and we should all be a little more like it in our lives, a light touch, velvety, and soft.

The sorrow is deafening in my ears, but I hear her gently speaking to me, “please protect me.” And protect her we should – keeping alive her spirit of love, gentleness, and purity.

To my love, to our beloved Julia Ji Hye.


Entry filed under: 3442.

Thank You Someone to Spare

29 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Laura  |  June 6, 2008 at 8:31 am

    Beautiful, John.

  • 2. Paula O.  |  June 6, 2008 at 8:53 am


    Just beautiful.

    Like so many others who did not know her personally, I shall be forever touched by her words, her courage, her honesty and incredible spirit of love, generosity and forgiveness.

  • 3. Psychobabbler  |  June 6, 2008 at 9:09 am

    John, thank you for sharing this beautiful picture and these beautiful words with us. Hoping that your memories of Julia and the love of those who surround you bring comfort to you…

    From one of those thousands of unknowns who was enriched and touched by Julia’s writing

  • 4. Judy  |  June 6, 2008 at 9:15 am

    It’s beautiful, John.

  • 5. Margie  |  June 6, 2008 at 9:34 am

    I think my heart is finally completely broken.

  • 6. Jen  |  June 6, 2008 at 11:26 am

    Wow, in tears from reading this. I’m with everyone else on here who has already commented.

    Love and gentle hugs John from all of us who haven’t seen Julia but have read her words.

  • […] Julia. Read John’s beautiful Eulogy to her. *Tears* Truth be told, my bad day can’t compare to […]

  • 8. Sara_2  |  June 6, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    Beautiful, as is its subject.

  • 9. Julia « Walking Softly  |  June 6, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    […] 6, 2008 by simplegracethirst If this does not break your heart… I just don’t know what […]

  • 10. Amy  |  June 6, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    Julia’s life reminds us all to be more gentle, loving, and pure.
    Beautiful words. Beautiful girl. Thank you.

  • 11. Lucia  |  June 6, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    “…we should all be a little more like it in our lives, a light touch, velvety, and soft. ”

    Thank you John for sharing this – may it truly inspire us in our lives. I’ve been checking this blog periodically, hoping for a miracle for Julia, just hoping that somehow everything would be OK.

    Your words have made my tears flow, but have inspired me. Just as Julia’s sharing of her life has touched and, I believe, helped so many. God bless you both.

  • 12. Megs  |  June 6, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    Deepest sympathies on the death of your beloved Julia.

    I am just now coming to know Julia by way of her blog, linked by a friend, and I am in awe at the loving and beautiful woman you shared your life with. Tears and hugs to you from Michigan.

  • 13. Maia  |  June 6, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    Thank you for writing John. Julia’s writings are amazing and really touched me (and many others obviously). Please keep writing your thoughts and sharing if you will. I am honored to read it.

  • 14. Jane  |  June 6, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    I too am in tears..Tears for Julia..Tears for you John….She was a extraordinary beautiful young woman and I did not even know her, but I do know that about her, from her writing , from your Writing John…I am sad that such a beautiful person inside and out has died so young….Hugs to you and may her light help you through this immense sadness John…

  • 15. Gretchen  |  June 6, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    Beautiful, John. Thank you. I’m wiping the tears that have gushed. Such a wonderful treatment to Julia, to your love.

  • 16. Carol  |  June 6, 2008 at 9:14 pm

    I recently heard this song, it’s a love song but perhaps more so a song about gratitude. Gratitude for the blessings those we love bring into our lives, if even for too short a time … it reminds me of your love for Julia, and of her love for you even now, in the stars. Thank you for sharing yourselves through this blog.

    This Flower
    By Kasey Chambers

    Well this flower is my soul
    But it’s not half of what I owe
    I should give you every rose that ever grew

    But take this one here for a start
    And you can keep it in your heart
    I have everything I need because of you

    Well if my life is long enough
    To pack up everything I love
    I would do just that
    And give it all to you

    But it’s impossible to pay
    All the things you gave away
    So this flower I give will have to do

    Well this flower is my soul
    But it’s not half of what I owe
    I should give you every rose that ever grew

    But take this one here for a start
    And you can keep it in your heart
    I have everything I need because of you

    Well all the flowers growing wild
    For ten thousand lonely miles
    It’s not near enough to give you what I should

    So I will owe you for a while
    Maybe longer than my time
    I would give you all the world if I could

    So this flower is my soul
    But it’s not half of what I owe
    I should give you every rose that ever grew

    But take this one here for a start
    And you can keep it in your heart
    I have everything I need because of you
    I have everything I need because of you

  • 17. MH  |  June 6, 2008 at 11:24 pm

    What a wonderful tribute.

  • 18. blissfuljourney  |  June 7, 2008 at 7:00 am

    A life truly lived. What a gift.

    Thank you so much for sharing this with the world John.

    Peace and love to you and many, MANY stones for Julia.

  • 19. Laurie  |  June 7, 2008 at 10:21 am

    This is such a beautiful tribute. So touching, and so heartwrenching.

  • 20. B mama  |  June 8, 2008 at 9:21 am

    I am so sorry for your loss, and the world’s loss.

  • 21. esperandoazufan  |  June 8, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    Wow. She was so beautiful.

  • 22. jawa137  |  June 8, 2008 at 6:14 pm


  • 23. carosgram  |  June 9, 2008 at 6:02 am

    Thinking of you and hoping you find solice

  • 24. Cavatica  |  June 9, 2008 at 8:37 am

    I only knew her through her blog. She was a beautiful writer, clearly able to reach out to many. I’m an adoptive parent and I began reading Julia before our daughter entered our life. Julia taught me so much and I hoped would continue to do so. Her voice was so important to APs, as she had a way of expressing the adoptee voice without making us defensive. That is a tremendous skill. Thank you, Julia, and now John for giving us more of lovely Julia.

  • 25. Beth  |  June 9, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this.
    Just beautiful.
    My thoughts are with you.

  • 26. Roads  |  June 9, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    I arrive here late in this story, via Judy. I’m so glad I came.

    A new journey begins here. Look after yourself now, as best you can.

  • 27. RogueQueen  |  June 9, 2008 at 9:54 pm


    I am so sad for your loss.
    Julia was a beautiful woman inside and out.

  • 28. maryreunited  |  June 12, 2008 at 12:07 am

    John I am so sorry you lost her, but at the same time so happy you had her and that she was so beautiful and so loving.. She will be missed by many.

  • 29. Julia « Land of the Not-So-Calm  |  June 30, 2008 at 10:30 am

    […] You and Eulogy by […]


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Julia’s Jam

It’s just not that black & white. Not because I am taking a stand against. Just because, the issues I face are somewhere in the grey area and to weed through them, I blog. I blog. ~

Glimpse of Julia

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