Happy birthday, sweet sister in heaven

Today is my sister’s birthday. She would have been 29 years old.  I say “would have” (past tense) because she died in 1994 when she was only 12 years old.  Cancer took her away far too soon.  Every year on her birthday, I strive to honor her in some way.  Taking the day off work, getting away for some “me” time, just unplugging so I can connect with her, with my heart, with my sister.

If you have lost loved ones, I encourage you to honor them in your own unique way. It’s a way to feel a connection at such a deep level that it’s almost indescribable.

This year, I wrote a letter to her.  I’m sending it out into the universe …


Dear Julie –

Happy birthday, sweet sister.  Today, you would have been 29.  Holy moly.  It’s hard to believe time has passed so quickly.  When you left this earth, you were a mere 12 years old.

I so often wonder what you’d be doing with your life now.  Where would you live? Would you be married? With children? With pets (I think so! You loved animals!)?  Essentially … I wonder how you would spend your precious time.

I’d do anything to have you back … to be able to talk to you and have you talk back.  I crave a conversation between sisters, between friends who share the same set of parents.

I’ve managed to create this connection through the way I live my life, through my openness and my spiritual quest.

I hear your voice when I practice yoga, when I look at my son, when I laugh with my husband, when I look around and appreciate all that life has to offer.

I hear your voice when I am about to break when my plate is TOO full or I’m moving in a direction that is not allowing me to fulfill my life purpose … I hear you saying to me: “What are you doing?  Do you think this is the way?  Listen to your intuition, big sister.  Life is a gift and you better make sure you’re loving it all … and being honest about what’s working for you and what’s not.  No one will do it for you.”

I hear you, I feel you, I breathe you, I love you.

Keep shining, Julie Ann.  Keep beaming, keep guiding me, keep being you.  I thank you and honor you.

On your birthday of April 20, I hope you’re having a HUGE party in heaven, a place where love knows no limits and there is no such thing as pain and suffering.  Know that there are so many people here on earth who love and miss you.

You are a star!

My deepest love,

Your big sister Jenny

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30 thoughts on “Happy birthday, sweet sister in heaven

  1. I’m actually celebrating 4/20, today, as an end to a 10 day week where I watched a dear friend lose his 3rd bout with cancer, witnessed numerous acts of divine inspiration and mass connectedness all catalyzed by one beautiful spirit & a life lived in an inspired space. It seems to have culminated into this synchronistically touching moment now and isn’t it a divine place.. Trés bien Jenny!!

  2. Oh, Jenny that is a beautiful letter! I’m in tears. You have yet inspired me once again too….I’m going to write a letter to my dad. Since 4/20 is the anniversary of his death 21 years ago this year, I took some time and looked through old pictures and read some old letters that he wrote me and remembered the good times we had while he was alive. Sadly only 12 short years I got to spend getting to know him. So to say I know him, not as much as I would have liked to. You’re awesome! Keep living your life to the fullest as I know you will! So many people go to the other side and don’t keep living their lives and give up caring about themselves.

  3. @Kami: So sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. Life is strange, yet beautiful when we can take a step back and understand a greater purpose to it all. Sending you lots of love and light.

    @Misty: How was it writing a letter to your dad? Hope you felt that deep level of connection between father and daughter. Your bond is unbreakable … and know that he’s shining down on you from heaven, guiding you to continue living your truth. You’re amazing!!!

  4. deep breath
    this is very emotional for me to read
    my heart is instantly struck with deep feeling

    thank you so much, your words just opened up another space in my heart

  5. I can relate to your sense of loss and sadness as I lost my husband almost 5 years ago.
    I love how you honor her and connect with her. A beautiful legacy you’ve created.

  6. @Laura: Well said, my dear. Heart opening is so beautiful. It’s so often the breakdown that leads to the breakthrough.

    @Debbie: Can’t wait to hear how you decide to honor your mom’s memory. It’s such a personal, creative act … and will bring up so many interesting feelings for you!

    @Katherine: Yes, we are ALWAYS connected to those we love. Time and space know no bounds …

    @Linda: So sorry to hear about your husband. Losing someone we love is excruciatingly painful. Wishing you love and peace as you keep your husband’s legacy alive through the way you live your life! Much love.

  7. Jenny,
    Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful post. Losing my dad less than two weeks ago has been the saddest thing ever:( I will take your idea and use it to honor my father in a way that he would have appreciated and loved…
    All the best,

  8. Amazing read. My father passed a year ago. I think about him everyday, although I haven’t taken the time to express what I have felt in a letter. Great idea. Thank you.
    Dr. Robert Fenell

  9. Jenny what a beautiful & inspiring post. I’m sure your sister is smiling down on you & your family from heaven.

    I lost my grandfather a few years ago & his birthday is coming up next week. Leo & I will celebrate by sharing an ice cream cone in his honor. My Poppa would love that. He always told us to eat more ice cream.

  10. Jenny,

    LOVE NEVER ENDS. What a beautiful way to keep your sister close to you and honored in your day to day life. My partner passed away two years ago after a very quick (28 days) bout with cancer. Just last week I picked up my journal and reconnected in another way with that profound experience and I continue to feel his presence and spirit.

    Thanks for a beautiful post and sharing yourself and your sister!


  11. Jenny,

    This is such a touching post. Thanks so much for sharing your heart and love so openly.
    The letter to your sister is beautiful and I love that you take time to honor yourself and your connection with her.

    Expressing gratitude and grief simultaneously is truly a gift.

    Write on!~


  12. Jenny,
    A wonderful idea to write a letter as touching as this one to your sister. My brother died
    when he was 30. It has been over 20 years now. You have inspired me to write him a letter.
    Thank you.

  13. Jenny,

    Thanks for this. This week is the anniversary of my mother’s death – and I love the idea of writing her a letter. I talk to her and my dad often as I am planning or working through things.


  14. Thanks so much for the inspiration dear.
    I lost my dear sister in July from the beast disguised as cancer.
    She would have been 50 today.
    Thank You…

  15. Jenny – What a profound way to connect and honor your sister. Also, what a powerful lesson for those that may be held back or blocked by grief or unsaid words with a lost loved one. I have recommended this approach several times with clients who really needed closure with a loved one or mentor who has passed to allow them to quit sabotaging themselves and move forward.

    Thanks so much for sharing!


  16. @Kiyla: My heart goes out to you as you heal from the loss of your dad. Grief is a strange thing … it never goes away, but it does become more comfortable with time. Wishing you love and light in the journey ahead. May the happy memories be with you always.

    @Robert: Writing can be such a cathartic process. I hope it allows you to forge a deep connection with your dad. Stay open.

    @Dawn: Love your Poppa’s motto: eat more ice cream! Couldn’t we all benefit from such a optimistic take on life?!

    @Terri: Thank you for your lovely sentiments.

    @Anita: So sorry to hear about your partner’s passing. How hard that must have been to lose him so quickly. Glad you have discovered the power of journaling. It really is a magical way to bridge the gap between the living and those who have passed on.

    @Lisa: I like what you said about expressing grief and gratitude simultaneously is a gift. I never thought of it that way before. Thank you for sharing this powerful insight.

    @Mitch: He’s always with you. May the power of your written words allow you to connect with your long lost brother. Thinking of you!

    @Lynn: You’re the best. Yes, energy never dies. Thank you for the reminder.

    @Terry: Wishing you love as you celebrate your mother’s life. May the memories sustain you!

    @Yogi: So sorry to hear about the loss of your sister. I feel your pain and wish I could take it away. She’s with you always.

    @Christine: I’m sure your letter will be as beautiful as you are!

    @Phil: What a wonderful approach to use with clients who are being held back by grief. It’s when we dive into the muck that we come out stronger and more focused than ever before. Movement takes courage … and you are such a helpful guide!

  17. Dear Jenny, what a beautiful letter. This is such a reflection of love and connection. I can feel you and your sister together sharing, even though she is on the other side, I am sure she is watching over you proudly, with love.

    Thankyou for introducing Julie Ann to us

  18. Jenny, I am just reading this, and it is so beautiful. I completely just broke out in tears. I wish I could have met Julie. She sounds like such an awesome person. Living the life you live today honors her every day in every way. Sisters are such a precious relationship, especially if they are close. Since you are always trying to “pay it forward”, have you ever thought of doing a Big Sister program for a little girl who doesn’t have a big sister. Might be worth looking into? I love you so much. You are like a sister to me. :)

  19. @Audrey: Thank you for sharing your love. Ya, you would have loved Julie for sure. She was a beautiful, funny gal who really loved life. I like your idea about a Big Sister program … certainly something to look into. You are like a sister to me, too! Such a gift. xoxo

  20. This is so sad! Struggling to hold back tears… I couldn’t bear it if my little sister died. Julie woud have had a bright future, I’m sure! She sounds a bit like me :) Aw I’m so sorry!

  21. that was so beautiful ms jenny, i’m still trying to stop the tears. i lost my sister 8 mo ago, we were so close, ( almost twins she’d say ) she was a beautiful person. she left behind a six year old , he’s just as sweet as she was. i don’t know how i’d make it without him, i see so much of her in him. today is her birthday. she would’ve been 40. R.I.P. rhonda g. gay

  22. Sending you much love and healing on your journey, Crystal. Your sister will ALWAYS be with you. Always. Deep breaths. Cry as much as you feel like. I hope my words continue to be helpful for you. xoxo

  23. Oh Jenny, this is so beautiful. Thank you for helping me connect with my sister Jaquie who left us so suddenly in April 2011. What a wonderful idea, there is so much I need to tell her.xxx

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