It is impossible to capture all that Julia means to me and for so many others, so I am not going to try. Instead, I am going to set the record straight and then tell you a story from the “last” day I got to be with her.
Setting The Record Straight
Everyone who met my sister Julia immediately became best friends with her. That was the type of person she was. That being said, I know who her best friends have always been; Riley and Andrea. And it was those two who loved Julia so fiercely through all of her trials. Riley was a steady presence of Saint Joseph, standing by her “in sickness and in health.” And Andrea, who was always the know-it-all-younger-sister, put herself aside to care for her older sister. It was a blessing to witness such love. And more important, how Julia loved her children. There is no one in who meant more to Julia than her four children; Olivia, Ben, Elliana, and Hugh. Julia made many sacrifices for those four that I cannot begin to articulate.
My “Last” Story About Julia
It was the Saturday before Julia’s passing, Ellianna’s birthday. Julia kept repeating how she did not make it to Elli’s last birthday due to her hospitalization and was enamored to have made it to this one. We concluded the night by asking Ellianna what she would like to do, and she immediately responded with watch Frozen 2. (Julia always liked Frozen because it is a sister movie (Shout out to Andrea and Alexis)). If you have not watched the movie I am about to spoil it or you…
The essence of the story is that Elsa (the older sister) is called by a mysterious voice to discover her true calling. She is accompanied by her friends and only family member on this journey through an enchanted forest. Elsa wrestles with different elemental spirits to turn chaos into peace. And is eventually called to separate from her companions to fulfill her destiny. She finds out that the mysterious voice calling her onward was her deceased mother. And then, venturing onward, Elsa sacrifices herself for the sake of saving her kinfolk. Through this sacrifice she becomes the connection between humans and this spiritual realm, which is what her mother had been calling to the entire time. Her final self-sacrifice saves and unites many (John 15:13).
Watching Julia love over the past years has been unfathomable. Watching her suffer so much hardship out of love for her kids brought my faith to new places. Julia taught me how to live and die with such grace and love. Just like Elsa sacrificed herself for her own kin, Julia woke up everyday and sacrificed for her four darling children. And I know that her sacrifice will bear much fruit for those she loved most just like Elsa’s did.
It is also important to note how Elsa’s deceased loved ones interacted with the living. Elsa’s mother, Iduna, died trying to save her child in the dark sea. Julia passed in a similar way, fighting tooth and nail for her children. But that was not the end of Iduna. Iduna remained a key character in her children’s life. Calling Elsa onward to fulfil her destiny that she was created to fulfill. Julia is still with us, calling us all to be who God created us to be, to fulfill our own destinies. And Julia will do this in a special way for her children.
I did not fully understand this movie when I first watched it. Tucking Julia into bed that night, she asked me if I liked the movie. I said “yes, it was the story of Jesus Christ,” who sacrificed himself so that the Church may be redeemed and connected to God – akin to Elsa’s sacrificed herself to unite the elemental spirits to humanity.
I look back on Julia’s four year battle with cancer and cannot help but reflect on what Saint Paul said in Colossians 1:24, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body…” Julia suffered greatly for her children and it is this witness that lives on connecting them and us to Christ’s sacrifice.
Some may say that Julia “lost her battle with cancer,” but I do not see it that way. Julia came through with a triumphant victory. We have all seen Christ in Julia as she battled. And now she is being united with Him for eternity, calling us all onward to join her in heaven. I know her current prayer is for each of us to respond to God’s calling; to join her and the Saints in heaven. Let us respond by taking up our crosses and follow Him as Julia did (Matthew 16:24).
Saint Joseph, patron of a happy death, pray for us. Amen.
Note – We will be having a memorial Mass for her after the pandemic has ceased. You can find her obituary at: https://warrenmcelwain.com/obituary/julia-marie-scott/?fbclid=IwAR2aG4fMlxHjABM4P_XpXMJzmb-ilzfQZfWaBQhhZ6q2QLDyrcTRTdyMyPo