Paying back


A friend recently told me that all the good stuff happening to me as of late was the universe paying me back.

She also said she was waiting for the same in her life.

“Hang in there,” I said. “It will happen.”

My life proves that even though bad things do happen to good people, (and excuse the assumption, but I do really try to be good), good things happen too.

It all begins with choice.

I chose to live after my daughter died. Really live.

I chose to honor her in a way that was true to her.

I chose to hold on to my relationships with my awesome husband, Brad, daughter Kyle, and son Ian.

I chose to accept all of your gracious help and support.

I chose to get my derriere back in my desk chair and start writing again.

I chose to be open to opportunities even when they were downright scary sometimes.

And all of these choices have lead me to all of the good stuff of today.

So hang in there. Hold on to those who love you, make the best of each day and rest assured, the universe will pay you back.


The audience rose as my name was announced.

My loss, love and life had just played out on the big screen in three minutes.

The emcee allowed me a few moments to gather myself before addressing the hundreds of people attending.

My heart raced, and my right palm was moist around the little piece of paper I wrote on just before leaving for the ceremony.

I managed to get up from the table, accept a huge hug and kiss from my husband Brad, and walk up the steps to the riser, where I was greeted with warm hugs from the co-hosts, and presented with a beautiful, original glass piece with a base that read, “Julie Rubini, Toledo Area Jefferson Award Winner.”


With tears still tumbling down my cheeks, I looked to the little piece of paper.

My early morning scribbling stared back at me.

Words. No words to explain. Sharing words in Claire’s honor.

Gratitude. Brad, Kyle and Ian.

Team. Volunteers. Sponsors. Community.

Mission. Purpose.

And somehow I managed to stitch together these words to share what was on my heart.

I would gladly trade in the attention and accolades to have Claire back.

But as that is not to be, I graciously accept, both the recognition and the many blessings I have in my life.

Thanks to Brad, our children Kyle, Ian, and yes, Claire, for your love, support and inspiration.

And to all of you reading this, for your role in lending me your wings so that I could fly.


“The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.”

— Bruce Lee


I won’t live forever.  Nobody does.  I know this all too well.

So, I try and live every day. Really live.

Tough standard, to live life to its fullest. Every day.

I fail miserably often.

I get caught up in worry about a tomorrow that may never come.

I let anxiety spill over in inpatient interactions with the ones I love.

I lose sight of what is really most important in life.  Family. Health. Friends.

But, I try.  Every day I try and appreciate the beauty, the gift of this day.  Of those in my life who

are in it.  And those who have left.

I’m back to rewriting memoir.  I hope to capture how I’ve learned to live life at a deeper

level since my daughter Claire died.

How I’ve moved forward from July 6, 2000 to today.

Losing, grieving, remembering, honoring, and living. Really living.

Claire didn’t live a long life.  But she lived one worth remembering.

Just as important, my husband, Brad and I made a choice after the end of her life.

We could merely exist, or we could really live.

I’m so grateful we chose the latter and have filled our lives and those of our children with joy.

I ask for your support as I guide this journey in story, one that hopefully will be remembered

long after my time comes.

Groundcover Vendor #42

I met up with my friend, Denise Brennan-Nelson up at the Ann Arbor Farmer’s market this week. She is a children’s book author and motivational speaker.  I am so grateful that Claire’s Day brought us into each other’s worlds. Through our many conversations, get-togethers and emails, we have discovered a mutual love of the significance of family, nature, exercise, trying to eat right, positive energy and Rodney Strong cabernet.

The picture was taken at our most recent visit in Ann Arbor, a nearly half-way point to her home in Howell, MI and mine in Maumee, OH.

But the photo and our time together really isn’t the story here.  The story is found in the person taking the picture.

His name is Shawn Story.  He is Groundcover Vendor #42.

Denise and I passed him three times coming and going to the Farmer’s market.  He greeted us with a nice big smile each time.  He held newspapers in his hand and I believe a badge identifying himself and the price for an issue, a buck.

As we headed out to our cars to go our separate ways, I saw Shawn.  I told him I would be happy to buy a newspaper, but wondered if he would also take our picture.

He gladly agreed, snapped the shot and gave me a paper. I gave him the dollar, thanked him for his time and turned to walk away.

“I have a poem on page five,” he said, with a big smile on his face.

This is an excerpt from his piece, titled Knowing is Half the Battle.

Having a go-get-it attitude will always get you what you need.

Being positive, eating well and exercise will motivate you to do the right things.

Knowing is half the battle.

Engage in what is important to you and what is right for you.

It is alright to take someone’s opinion, but you have to make the decisions.

You have to live with what you do.

Knowing is half the battle….

The Groundcover newspaper’s mission is “creating opportunity and a voice for low-income people while taking action to end homelessness and poverty.”

I’m glad the paper shared Shawn’s voice.  It was amazing to me how similar his message was to the discussions that Denise and I had over breakfast.

I intend to send a message to the newspaper to let them know how Mr. Story touched me with his piece.  And how I learned once again that the story isn’t always to be found where we think it is.