Some emails jump out and punch me

By Emma Pearson

June 22, 2024

Photo taken by one of Julia’s boarding school friends, and sent to me some days after her death

29 November 2022

I needed to find an email I knew would be in my inbox somewhere, and so typed in two Christian names that I figured would result in what I was looking for. The email I was hunting for showed up, but so did this one. I wrote it on 17 August 2018. It was to Jo, the house parent at the school Julia went to in the UK for what was her final year of life.

It makes for desperately crushing reading.

My innocence is staggering. As is my wisdom around the special handling Julia needed.

How life can change, and change, and change, and change.


Hi Jo

Good to hear from you – we are just back from 3 weeks on the East Coast of the US so my mind is ready to turn to the girls’ return/start at Queen’s. For Julia, three things come to mind quickly – 

1) Her name is not on the Boardingware do-dah where Megan’s is… If I go under “My Pupils” I just see Megan.  So I cannot put in Julia’s travel. (However she and I will travel on Monday 3rd Sept, knock around Taunton buying stuff we don’t want to carry, and then we will come along on the Wednesday 5th in the morning (clothes should have arrived at school for her from the Perry people). 

2) and very discretely…. Since her dad died, Julia has struggled more than her older brother or sister.  I know that she’s not appropriately processing her grief, and while she’s been to a therapist a few times, she basically doesn’t want to engage with one… her dad’s death is very painful for her but she seems not to ever mention him, and to roll her eyes when anyone else does.  But she is struggling, and has been quite depressed (in a high functioning way) this past year.  I think Queen’s will do her good, as Mike’s absence (and her brother’s who was on a gap year) will be less “in her face”… I do ask that you keep a close eye on her, and ask her how she is… Please bring in her dad’s name, and even if she rolls her eyes, do what you can to normalise that it’s okay to talk about a dead parent.  Part of why she wants to come to Queen’s is to “not be the girl whose dad died”…. But of course she is…

3) she’s had trouble with her knees on and off for a while – it comes and goes.  It’s frustrating as she should be so sporty.  No sports doctor, physio, Osteo or even X-rays has found anything wrong… the sports doctor suggests it’s most likely growing pains…. She’s developed a lot physically in the past 2 years, though hasn’t grown much.  I hope that she will be okay to do all the dance she wants to – like Megan, it’s one of the primary reasons she wanted to come to Queen’s…. She’s also signed up for PE GCSE which I know is demanding physically… so I would love you to keep an eye on that. 

Thanks again for all your attention to my precious ones – it’s so hard for me to have this empty nesting so fast – I was looking forward to it in a few years with Mike, but now he’s gone, and Julia is leaving earlier than planned, so it will be very hard I am sure… knowing you’re keeping a gentle eye on them is important to me.  And knowing Victoria’s daughter Charlotte is starting is also very special.  Victoria and I go back over 30 years…!

Thank you

About Emma Pearson

3 thoughts on “Some emails jump out and punch me

  1. This was indeed a painful read—including the photo which reflects the unsettling emotional tsunami Julia was likely experiencing—and I can only imagine the roller coaster ride through the abyss of your cumulative grief which you must have endured in writing this, Emma. I experienced both physical and emotional discomfort when vicariously taking in your moments of ‘then’ and ‘now..’

    Your innocent wisdom is clear and it brings compassionate tears. No one could have ever imagined what awaited you when you wrote this. Not even Julia.

  2. Feeling deep sadness, Em, and love all rolled into one messy but tight ball. Indeed this pic of Juju shows much pain escaping through her beautiful eyes. Still not able to fully process that she is no longer among us. Love you, sorella mia, and in such awe of your extraordinary resilience and love of life, despite all these deep sadnesses. xx Laura

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