Posted by: mydarkestplaces | April 18, 2012

My friend, Julia

Julia Ann Conley passed away on Sunday after a brief, furious, losing battle with cancer.

She was one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever had the honor of calling friend.

I got to know her at L.L.Bean. We were part of a group representing the Flagship Store that went to Albany to help open the new store there. Between spending five hours in a van together and working somewhere in the neighborhood of sixty, intense hours over the course of four days, we got to know each other fairly well. Our friendship was born and, working together even further first back at Flagship and later at the Home Store, our friendship only deepened. I was able to talk to her about anything and everything. I cried with (to) her, I dreamt with her, most importantly, I laughed with her.

As my friends and I have gathered together to remember this remarkable woman who was our friend, the word that has been used most often is “laughter”. We laughed together. We talked about our families. We talked about our pipe dreams. She encouraged all of us to do whatever it was that makes us happy. We laughed.

A friend introduced me to the poet Mary Oliver and a poem In Blackwater Wood. Let this be my rememberence, because this is how she was – she lived, she loved, she laughed:

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.


  1. […] stress at work, a lot of memories. I’ve found myself thinking of Ann. I keep thinking I see Julia¬†around Freeport. Next week is a memorial service for Brian. I’ve asked some friends who […]

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