“Anniversary” then moves from this fantasy of her life in the after-life to a memory. This is a memory of how I heard about her death over the telephone from my brother, Gary Thompson—that lovable gentleman sitting right over there. This memory reveals a fair bit about my brother’s character, our relationship, our relationship with our sister. Julia was the oldest, Gary in the middle and I am the youngest. Gary has a peace- maker temperament. Gary was calling me from Illinois, coming back from the State Fair. I answered the phone in Northern California, my mind still busy with our first comedy variety review show.
I woke up a year ago not knowing.
Not knowing my life was about to be changed forever.
Not knowing this date would be carved in flesh and blood.
How innocent I was that morning.
That morning when I woke up, not knowing.
My brother called.
I heard it in his voice.
Death. Or, at least something terribly off.
Only, I thought it was Mom or Dad.
My dear, sainted, brother. To have to make that call.
A call no one should ever have to make.
Julia, you would have spit it all out on the spot.
But, Gary, he just didn’t want to tell me.
“There’s some good news and some bad news.”
Well, let’s hear the bad news first.
But, he couldn’t.
They’d been to the state fair in Springfield.
The hog judging contest.
He’d seen two college friends, now farmers, with families of their own.
Boys I’d dated—he’d arranged it, of course.
Anything for his little sister.
Please, Gary, I can hear it in your voice.
Please. I’m dying here.
And, so, finally, Julia-like, he spit it out.
“There was a car accident. Julia was killed.”
A silence between us, beyond stunned.
Ten seconds of dead air time.
She, who was bottled vitality.
No. No. I’m sorry. Just flat-out, No.