by Kolleen Carney
I met Julie LeMay in a poetry workshop at Antioch University in Los Angeles in 2011. Kind and caring, Julie was a true friend and a lovely part of my experience in grad school—in an environment so new and so scary, it was a blessing to have such a beautiful person to share the experience with, to set my soul at ease.
Julie missed a semester due to her illness, which meant she ended up graduating with me in 2013. When she returned from her medical leave she was optimistic and positive—everything I was not. She was a presence everyone should be lucky to have in their lives. Her poetry was gorgeous, her feedback insightful, her support immeasurable. I spent the project period looking forward to seeing her again at a residency.
Julie and I graduated in 2013 and continued to maintain a friendship, even as I lived in Massachusetts and she lived in Alaska. Say what you will about social media, but it helped us stay in touch through the years, and I am grateful for it. When my life was imploding, she listened. When my young son was going through hard times she sent him supportive messages. She encouraged me to be the very best writer, and person, I could be.
The last time I saw Julie was at AWP in Los Angeles in 2016. She was a bit tired, but we spent the day in the book fair together, chatting about life and literature.
In the three years after, we wrote often to each other, sending messages electronically as well as through the mail. She was always supportive of the choices I made in life, about my writing, and about my growing family. She was like a sister to me, a sister I never had before.
Julie passed away from ovarian cancer on March 30th, 2019, at home with her family. I will miss everything about her as a person: her happiness, her positivity, her writing, her friendship. She was an amazing person, and we are all better people for having her in our lives, if only for this glimpse of a moment.
Julie’s book, The Echo of Ice Letting Go, is available here. Donations in her name can be made to your local library, or to jatsontibet.org. And, if you’d like to leave a tribute of your own, her family invites you to do so on Julie’s Facebook page.