Published 21 Dec 2016 Mamamia Network.
Yes, that bastard cancer has taken another great person.
Julia Watson, author of Breakfast, School Run, Chemo died last night, surrounded by her loving family and friends.
I won’t say she “lost her battle with cancer” because that terminology would grossly underplay her mighty fight. It was a battle she knew she would lose eventually, but that was never the point. Julia knew, better than any of us, that death is not a fightable foe.
It awaits us all, and succumbing to it is not a failure. It is the natural way of things even if it’s timing is just too damn early sometimes to seem like anything but a crushing, hopeless, unnatural defeat.
Julia Watson started a blog exactly three years ago when she was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer. At the time she was given months to live, which just seemed impossible to her.
Julia was nothing if not vibrantly alive.
She had four young daughters and a lovely husband.
She’d just decided to take the big leap and follow her passion into writing. She was about to go back to study, was working passionately for refugees and had found her dream house. I don’t know that anyone in the world has had more to live for than Julia Watson did in December of 2013.
She contacted me in early 2015 to tell me that she would make a great guest on my podcast. She also flattered me by confiding that all her friends thought we were twins, separated at birth. How could I resist?
So we got together to podcast and she told me the story of her life.
A childhood in which she was preyed upon by an adult, and bullied at school, just about broke her, but she fought back as Julia was always inclined to do.
She seemed to me to have an inherent understanding of her own worth, even as others tried their best to diminish it. Somewhere down very deep inside Julia, a fire of self-esteem refused to be snuffed.
Eventually she met Gaz, a man described by his oldest friends as a rough diamond, polished by his relationship with Julia into a beautiful husband and father.
Their partnership fanned that flame inside Julia, and in her words, she found herself, “living the dream.”
When they discovered their fourth daughter was a Downs Syndrome child, Julia believed it was the really big, challenging event she’d always felt awaited her in life. That child brought so much love and light into the family, Julia wrote about her relief.
If that was the hardest life had to throw at her, she felt she was doing pretty well.
Then came her cancer diagnosis, and her decision to blog about it and reach out to other cancer sufferers around the world.
She hoped for a miracle, or course, but she soon started to notice miracles all around her, and in doing so she inspired thousands, including myself, to live this life differently, right now.
She called her blog and her Facebook page Five Fairies and a Fella and through them she shared every high and every low of her post-diagnosis life and they will live on as testament to her great charm, humour and courage.
In 2015 Julia achieved another dream when she became a published author. Ironically it was her cancer, the thing that threatened her realising her writing dream, that inspired her best-selling book.
I spoke to her a couple of weeks ago, from her hospice bed.
The dreaded words, “there’s nothing more we can do,” had finally been said by her medical team.
She expressed her confusion and literal disbelief at what was about to happen to her, at the fact that she would soon “disappear” from this world.
I lay awake for hours last night thinking about where she’d gone, where all that powerful life-force had gone.
Our various religious beliefs are built on explanations for these moments, but it always seems so much more bizarre and baffling when it’s a robust liver of life, doesn’t it?
Safe travels to you Julia, you wonderful woman.
I live differently and think differently about my life because of you. You are not my first friend to die young, but it felt like we had much in common at this moment in our lives, in terms of what we wanted for ourselves, our children and our world.
You’ve made me so aware of the importance of living the life I want to live now.
Thank you. Safe travels.
Om Mani Padme Hum.
If you’d like to help Julia’s husband and kids, please donate to the GoFund Me Account that has been set up for them.