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.