An Elegy for Julie Miller


Old Bench

It’s a bittersweet thing to say to say, “Goodbye” for real. Honestly, at age 34, in middle-income America, there’s not many of them yet.

Last Saturday, we had the opportunity to celebrate the life and acknowledge the death of our friend, Julie Miller. Were we friends that hung out everyday and shared vacations? No. Did we have dinner together on week nights? No. But we were friends. Her life mattered and she carried with her a spirit that cared for everyone around her. She was motherly, and boisterous, and fell asleep during most sermons (which is actually kind of endearing). She was a Seahawks diehard, a faithful wife, and she was loved. Loved by her family, loved by us, and loved by God.

I wrote this elegy inspired by the rotting bench that used to be chained to right side of the entry to Sherwood Apartments. Julie often sat there at all times of day and night. She smoked on that bench, she talked on that bench, she listened on that bench. My guess is that a lot of other deeply intimate things happened on that bench too.

The Bench (at 303)

They didn’t really know that you were made of steel, because the streets painted different scenes.
A cigarette pack soothes the years of trial, as you’ve held more tears than a thousand songs of loss.
You’ve held more words though, too. Whispers of loving things to friends who were just enemies.
Or midnight phone calls to God knows who. Creatures of habit wrap themselves around you. That doesn’t scare you.

You carried much more than warped strips of painted Oak. You held Children. Dealers. Little dreamers with big dreams and cashed out sex offenders. You carried grocery shoppers only half-way home. A big old sign…Drunken Conversations Welcomed. You endured them carrying whatever they needed and certainly things they didn’t. There was more than just a few cinders smashed and twisted into you. But you remained chained. Like someone else I know.

Oh but when She came….
When She came with joy to sit,
You held Her beaming with pride that She choose you to tell.
When She came with some dull sadness
You bent over crooked to see Her eyes and lift Her face.
When She came with company, you hosted feasts of Cheetos that rivaled heaven’s table,
Only glad to see Her laughter and witness Her humor.
When She came with grief,
You sat up strong and let Her lean on you.
Whispering to Her all the things that you’ve overheard Her say to others.
And on all those normal days She came,
You held Her gently, waiting for…nothing.
Sitting with Her was enough, because you knew She carried you too.

Goodbye, Julie.

JonAn Elegy for Julie Miller

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