On January 2nd, 2019, just 34 days ago, (although time doesn’t seem to exist anymore), my world crashed completely. My heart left my body, never to be seen again; all hope and positivity I’d ever known in my life, vanished, and with that was the first day of the unending flood that was my Facebook Messenger Inbox. I was getting messages from family I hadn’t spoken to in years, friends I had cut ties with, teachers from my childhood, the niece of my grandmothers neighbor (2 doors down and across the street)… I have received hundreds of messages offering thoughts and prayers, but there is one I will never forget…

Even though (gah!, I am the worst person) I don’t even remember her name, I could go back and look if I really wanted to, but right now, I’m just thinking on her words… Her message started out,

Hi Katii. I lost my son at 5 and a half, 2 years ago. I say the half, because that part was important to him, so it’s important to me too…

Honestly, I don’t think I even read the rest of the message; not because I couldn’t take the time, but because I just froze there in the hospitals “quiet room” and thought to myself,

“Hi, my name is Katii. I lost my little girl Jude at 5 and 3 quarters. I say 3 quarters because that was important to her.”

Would this be me months or years from now? Would I be sharing her story so often, I’d need to use an introduction? Jude didn’t care about the logistics! There was 5 and there was 6. She figured there was no need to sugar coat it, because there’s nothing wrong with 5 and there’s nothing wrong with 6. She was happy just as she was, and there was never any need to rush.

This woman did not take the time to write to me, so that I could learn how to introduce others to the loss of my kid, and secondly, her story is not my story to tell; it was hers! The sweet woman who messaged me that day, shared her child’s story because she got these messages too, just a couple of years ago, and this was her way of growing a support system and being there for moms who may need “Angel Mom” friends. I’m sure when I finally get the strength to fully read and respond to her message, I’ll learn all about how beautiful and silly a boy her son was; but for now, I know I can’t condense Jude Valerie and all of who she was in her nearly 6 years, into just a few words, because she was a force. She was entirely “just Jude”. The only way I can explain her, is with every bit of my memories, thoughts and now never-to-be-played-out hopes for her.

Now I should mention, as much as I wish I could articulate well enough to write her full life story, this is really going to be mostly scattered memories of her. The good, the bad, and the ugly… but especially the funny, and the comforting, mixed in with a whole lot of the confusion and gut wrenching brokenness I can’t seem to escape. So this is the first page of the stories I know; no edits, no sugar-coating, just real. This is the story of Jude.



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