Happy Birthday dear sweet Joy!

I can not believe it’s been 25 years of carrying you with me, of navigating my steps around your void.  It’s been an obstacle course filled with grief, doubt, inspiration, purpose, failure and trimuphs.  No one should have to bury their child – it is a grief that cannot be described but I would not change that you came into my life.  I am so grateful that I was chosen to be your mommy for a short time on earth and my baby you will always be.

I’ve thought about and missed you this year almost as much as I did at your 1st birthday.  I am still contemplating why some years are harder than others but in the end, for this year – I think I long for your friendship more than anything.  An important piece of me is missing from this earth.  Wow!  That is hard to see in black and white.  It is hard to let myself say it and even harder to reveal it to others.  I am lucky – blessed – loved because I have some of the best women in my life to call my dear friends, my tribe.  Many you have never met but a few loved you then and love you still.  You would have enjoyed eveyone of them!  I feel guilty for missing your relationship as I am a very wealthy women in that department but I do still miss you.

I see many moms with their 20 something daughters and notice the unduplicated relationship and I feel your absense deep this year.  This weekend I have loved remembering your essence and have enjoyed dreaming of what we would do if you were by my side but of course you are not and at the end of the day… I am sad but also at peace.

As I have remembered you and think about this 25 years, it’s hard to separate the things you have missed from those that you have inpired.  I am a different women and have a different life that was hijacked by my love for you and the inspiration you birthed in me.  So much of my life still smiles because of you.

So the hard questions for me is how do I celebrate a Birthday of a child that I didn’t get the honor to raise.  That I didn’t get to pick up when she fell or comfort when she was heartbroken or take out to purchase a prom dress or be there when she says YES to the dress.  The easy answer is you can’t fully.  The correct answer is however you want.  But my answer this year is more complex than both of those.

I celebrate that through the harest 12 months of my life, you ursed my seeking after God.  Me being your momma actually required it.  You inspired me to experience so many gifts from Him.  I received joy, peace, purpose, and empathy.  Thank you sweet girl for being mine and pushing me to be that mom.  You did good!

I celebrate the purse of using my natural gifts to advocate and serve a community I never would have met.  It’s crazy to recognize that a huge part of what I do and who I am in this life started because of you.  Thank you for connecting me to such a fulfilling purpose.

I celebrate that you are probably having tea with the Queen – a heavenly Tea for Joy.  And then I smile with jealousy for YOU and for HER.

I celebrate that the grief no longer overtakes me and paralyzes me.  That the grief has been a vehicle for God to still work on, in and through me – regardless how much I fight Him.

I wish you were here to be a daughter, a sister, an aunt – oh how you are missed in those roles!  I wish for so many moments, adventures, talks and milestones that I will never have.  Sometimes that sadness of missing weighs on me but I will take the burden of the roads not traveled to have the priveldge of being on the road that allowed me to hold you, know you, hear your voice, smell your hair, kiss your cheecks and look into your beautiful eyes as you smiled.  That road is priceless to me and worth traveling even with the cost of having a lifetime of all the things I can’t have.

Yes, today I would have loved to have Tea at the plaza with you by my side, shopped, gone to a musical production, seen you play with your niece and nephew or sat beside you with netflix.  I didn’t get that and it hurts.  It is painful.  I have a hole that no one or nothing can ever fill.  But that hole allows me to smile and think of the wonderful daughter I have.

So on your 25th Birthday, I hope you feel my love and I pray you know I am proud of you.  I desire that you smile when you see how I am living my life and using all I have learned to be a better wife, mother, sister, daughter, Gju, aunt and friend.


Yes there are tears and smiles.  Crying and laughter.  I will keep your light shinning as long as I am allowed.  I will continue to carry you in my heart until we meet again.  You will always be my inspiration to do what God calls me to do.   I am moving forward one day, one week, one year at a time.  This is not the day of my dreams but you are the daughter of my dreams!

Your mommy misses you!  Your mommy is living!  Your mommy Loves you!

Happy 25th Birthday my sweet Baby Joy!


  • Jenny Tucker says:

    Love you both so dearly. Thank you for sharing your heart and story.

  • Nancy Farrar says:

    What an amazing testimony to the love and power of God! You are an inspiration Julie, your love, life, and honesty bless me and many others. Thank you for sharing!

  • Patti Lucas says:

    Omg, Julie your words are just beautiful… and so felt and understood. You will always have the void, loss of a sweet Joy, however the brilliance in your heart and life will never stop! I agree, she’s given You so much purpose and strength to fulfill your loves and dreams. Just look at the Woman and friend you are! We can only imagine what wonderful part of all our lives she could and would have touched. I’m blessed to know you! I love you! Happy Birthday Joy!❤️

  • Jennifer Franklin says:

    I love you so much. I LOVE the picture of Joy having tea with the Queen! 👑
    Your words are beautiful, thank you for sharing.
    Franklin ❤️❤️

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