a memorial for a dear friend, Julie Woodward
I do not officiate funeral services, this is a choice I made. I officiate Marriages and naming days only.
Except this time. I prepared and held a memorial for my dear friend, whose life ended too soon. I'm sharing the memorial here, especially for those could not attend and as public record and testament to a truly beautiful friend.
Memorial Service 11.30am 23.10.20
Welcome. Firstly, I would I like to thank you all for being here today. We gather together to celebrate Julie, her life, her spirit and friendship. We chose today the day before Julies birthday as we hope in this memorial to emphasise her existence, and to celebrate each year that she graced the earth.
My name is Tanya and I am honoured and proud to lead us today in this memorial. I appreciate the time that people have taken to be here today, even those that are not present but have sent their wishes and shared that they too will stop to remember and rejoice for Julies birthday celebration.
The journey of grief is long and those who walk it should not have to walk it alone. In times like these nothing takes the place of friends. Your presence here today helps us to cement how loved and cared for Julie was, and is a demonstration that shows what an impact her living and dying has made.
We honour a woman who touched many lives. We will stop to hear the stories, to laugh and cry together once again and to acknowledge that we are different because Julie shared her life with us.
Julie was and will always be remembered for her love and compassion as well as her quick wit and her cheeky sense of humour that made everyone smile and enjoy being in her company.
Poem – Warrior
She had been stepped on so many times that the footprints had left behind had tattooed her beautiful skin
But she wasn’t broken She picked herself up and kept going
These were war wounds She was proud of the marks of a champion
With every struggle that she faced She found some reason to embrace hope
She had the strength of a warrior her eyes did not show the pain her broken smile would put beauty queens to shame
Absolutely nothing had stood in her way
I met Julie when we worked together and we discovered that we were both completing the same Master of Psychology course. From then on we would elect the same classes to be together. When Julie won a permanent position I was sad to lose my work buddy when she went off to the academy and then started her officer role at different office. We still spent our uni classes together, and we continued to socialise and take holidays together. I never worked with Julie again. However, everyone that I have met that has also worked with Julie all share the same high respect for her, she was exceptionally good at her work, she was thorough, organised and very intelligent. And that was just her work credits. She was also warm, funny, caring, fair and genuinely fun to be around.
Upon leaving Corrective Services, she worked in the Northern Territory as a Psychologist, and Intel Officer in Domestic Violence for the Northern Territory Police, where she made a considerable contribution. Despite considerable physical limitations, she continued her on to work in Armidale as an Intel Officer for the NSW Police, prior to her service with Victorian Police Intel. She worked as a criminal intelligence analyst for the Australian Federal Police between February and August 2019.
She died as she lived, a strong advocate for women living with domestic violence, seeking a fair and safe community and workplace.
A Reading authored by Cendra Lynn
Our friend died at her own battlefield. She was killed in action fighting a civil war. She fought against adversities that were as real to her as her casket is real to us. They are powerful adversaries. They took toll of her energies and endurance. They exhausted the last vestiges of her courage and her strength. At last these adversaries overwhelmed her. And it appeared that she had lost the war. But did she?
I see a host of victories she has won!
For one thing she has won our admiration – because even if she lost the war, we can give her credit for her bravery on the battlefield. And we can give her credit for the courage and pride and hope that she used as her weapons for as long as she could. We should remember not her death, but her daily victories gained through her kindness and thoughtfulness, through her love for her family and friends… for all things beautiful, lovely and honourable.
We shall remember not her last day of defeat but we shall remember the many days that she was victorious over overwhelming odds. We should remember not the years we thought she had left, but the intensity with which she lived the years that she had. Only god knows what she suffered in the silent skirmishes that took place in her soul. But our consolation is that god does know and understands.
It is an important day when we gather together to honour a life and mourn a death. Time stands still for just a moment as we stand here to acknowledge that someone has touched our lives, has left an imprint on our hearts and that our souls are eternally changed. Julie left this life on 26 November 2019 her spirit and her living made a difference and will continue to do so as long as we each remember her in our hearts and carry the lessons of her life within us.
I think when we think of Julie we also think of Alfie. Julie had a fondness for not just Alfie but any cat, big or small and further; to any animal that needed the care and protection of a being, Julie would take it upon herself to be that being.
Over the last year I have recalled so many fond memories of Julie, one always made me giggle, the time she declared that she wanted to save money and asked me to hold her credit cards and only give them to her in an emergency. Some time later, it didn’t seem like a long period, she called me one night declaring that she needed the credit card numbers to purchase a painting that was painted by a bear, to raise funds for bears. I reminded her of all her plans to save etc etc and she still maintained it was more important to save the bears. I did see her bear print when she proudly showed it to me the next time I was over.
And save she did, Julie spent around 4 years in Northern Terrority and purchased her own townhouse in Alice Springs. This was a significant achievement on one income in an expensive town. Always focused and always determined always hardworking.
We are now the representatives and the ambassadors of Julies legacy. She gave us wonderful gifts of kindness, graciousness, strength, acceptance and love. Julie showed us how to live with challenges and struggles and how to survive, for she did survive them for so many hard years.
Julie always gave us every inch of what she had to offer. She never held back and always tried to give it her all.
I’d like to take this moment now to play some music so we can each reflect on our memories.
Reflection Music (played the song Home, The Foo Fighters)
Washington Irving said
“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief...and unspeakable love. Accept your tears and expressions of loss”
Julie we celebrate for the life you lived on this earth, for the memories you have given us and the legacy we are proud to continue. We pledge to keep the example of love and joy of an intentional and determined life with us each day and be eternally grateful that you were a part of our world and our lives.
Poem By Ellen Brenneman
My Journey’s Just Begun
“Don’t think of me as gone away,
My journey’s just begun.
Life holds so many facets,
This earth is but one.”
I’d like to thank you all again for sharing your moments and opening your hearts to celebrate and fondly remember Julie together.