"Hello, my love." Is the first thing I hear as Julian's voice fades into my thoughts. Julian tells me he loves me, he always loved me, he will always love me. He tells me how brave and strong I am. This makes me angry. I've heard that enough, I say to Julian. I'm not brave. I'm not strong. I am so lost without you. I need to lay in your arms and smell you near me, feel your skin against my skin. I need to listen to your heartbeat as we fall asleep together. I'm falling to pieces here.
"Is there something you want to ask me ?" Julian says.
"Yes." I say through heavy tears. "If you had not gone to North Dakota, would you still have died ?" I asked.
"Yes." He said. "I had to go and God only took me when he knew YOU were ready."
Ready ? I was not ready to be alone. I was ready to spend my whole life with you. I was ready for us to grow old and die together. I was not ready to lose you this way. Ready ?
"You have things to do. Stories to tell and a life to live." Julian says.
"And you don't ?" I argued.
"I had to go." He says simply.
The tears are flowing like a raging waterfall now. I'm actually having this conversation with Julian. I can feel his words. I can feel his soft, tender, soothing voice.
I can't do this, I tell him. I really can't. I want to give up. You were the only one who believed in me. You were the only one through my whole life who was able to see down deep into my heart and soul. You were Heaven-sent and now you're gone.
"I'm not gone." Julian says. "I'm here waiting. Heaven is so very beautiful, my love. I would give anything to be there physically with you and my children, but it was time for me to go."
Julian tells me to open my eyes and see the difference. It takes a couple of minutes for me to open my eyes. Nothing has changed, I say as I look around my room. I roll over and stare at the wall next to my bed.
A picture I took about 5 years ago hangs on the wall. It is Daisy and Julian sitting with their backs facing me, they are on the lake shore watching the other children swim. I edited the photo to make it look antique, printed it out and mounted it on an oval piece of wood. It's such a candid, sweet moment between father and daughter and I will hand that photo down to Daisy someday.
As I stared at the photo, I could hear Julian say, "That's Heaven. I'll be waiting there. We'll watch the children play in the clear water. We'll be together forever. For now, my love, live, grow old, raise our children and know that everything is okay."
Nineteen years ago, a pastor called me to the front of the church and whispered to me that he felt the voice of God urging him to speak to me. He told me "God hears your cries and He wants to answer your prayers."
I was pregnant at the time with my son, Caleb. I was alone and had actually thought of taking my own life that morning, but I went to church instead. The pastor looked deep into my eyes and said "Tell the Lord what you want right now, Renee. Don't tell me. Tell Him."
I bowed my head and prayed to God. "Lord, send me someone who will love me for me. Make him kind. caring, a family man, fun and handsome - if you can. I will love him and be a good wife. I won't cheat. I won't waste his money. Let him overlook my past and see my heart."
A year later, I met Julian. Two years after that, we were together. On May 2nd, 1998, that pastor married Julian and I. Julian was more than I had asked for and more than I ever expected.