The mayor of Alberta’s greatest metropolis declared September 13-19, “Julie Rohr Week.” Julie Rohr was trending on twitter ahead of the Met Gala. Ryan Reynolds, Charles Adler, Rick Mercer, Glennon Doyle, Connor MacDavid, Colin Mochrie and a multitude of celebrities sent video greetings to her. Julie died on September 16, 2021, six years after a cancer diagnosis but not before finding her way into the hearts of thousands of Canadians. She was 39.
Who Is Julie Rohr?
I met Julie when she stepped up to raise money for a friend’s little girl who had been diagnosed with cancer. Not long after, Julie was diagnosed with cancer and given a short time to live. She made the most of life by stretching her few years into over 72 months. During that time she became known as a humanitarian, a justice advocate, a light on twitter, a voice for reason during COVID-19, a spreader of joy, and a lover of all things Edmonton.
In January 2021 I was tasked with presenting a webinar on resilience. I turned to Julie and let her do the talking. She knows more about resilience – and how to communicate – than I could ever master. Those closest to Julie will tell you she was the epitome of “a good neighbour.” Latkes with lox from the Millcreek Café was one of her fave foods.
Love Over Fear
Julie’s family posted the following on the day she passed. Julie helped prepare the statement and her own memorial. That should give you enough insight to understand the level of her thoughtfulness. Perfect? No. Forgiven? Yes. She knew the grace, mercy and salvation of Jesus and lived it fully.
“Thank you, each one of you, for being a part of her journey. She was so grateful for you, she cherished your support and friendship.
Her final wishes to us were to leave you with these words.”
A Wonderful Life
Friends, it’s been a wonderful life. I leave with some sadness, of course; I wish I could have stayed with you much longer. I had so many memories to make, so much I still wanted to do, say & experience. But I leave this earthly world with no regrets – I have told the ones I love how much I love them, I have opened my heart to life & many of you have opened your hearts back to me in turn.
My life experience has been rich & beauty-filled. Thank you for your support in the past years. My family & I have been incredibly grateful for the outpouring of love and encouragement from so many of you. I often said it lifted me above the pain & suffering of the disease I lived with.
Lift Your Face Toward The Sun
Cry for a time, however long that may be. Feel the grief you feel, as I allowed myself to do. Lean in to the pain of goodbye. But eventually, lift your face towards the sun & allow joyful memories to be the lingering thought. Hold grief in one hand and joy in the other.
I hope I brought you joy. I hope I enriched your life experience. I hope my story inspired you to reach for strength & love even on the hardest, most painful days.
Every day is a gift. May yours be full of beauty and wonder. This is goodbye for now. I leave you with some of my favourite poems, “Epitaph,” by Merrit Malloy, and some words from Mary Oliver. Be good to each other. Allow yourself to contemplate about the existence and nature of God.
Be kind to yourselves. May you open your heart to love even though it means inevitable pain. Choose love over fear, every time.
Thank you all.
Tell People Now
I wrote this to inspire you to let the people in your life know that you love them and the difference they make in your life. Call them. Write them. Meet with them. Do all three.
More About Julie
I’m A Parent and Cancer Won’t Change That
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