Caroline R., Cape May County Technical High School
This is a story about The Amazing Julie Bean. Her last name isn’t Bean and no one seems to know how she got the name, but for as long as I have known her, people have called her Julie Bean. I added the amazing part because she’s…..well, she’s amazing.
We met in kindergarten when my family relocated half way through the school year. I was all alone and in need of a friend. Any friend. Unfortunately, it didn’t start well. I tried to strike up conversation by asking some of my new classmates to borrow a Crayon. I began to get discouraged when the first few classmates ignored my request. I didn’t know her name at the time, but the next person to ask looked like a doll had come to life. She had beautiful long hair, bright blue eyes and the most perfect dress I had ever seen. It was, of course, The Amazing Julie Bean. She smiled when I asked her to borrow a crayon and I began to feel the excitement of being accepted. Then she answered. “No way.” “Not a chance.” “I don’t know you.” I was crushed and did what any kid in my situation would have done. I cried. Somehow I made it to the end of the day only to find my seat on the bus was with Julie Bean.
As luck would have it, we were one of the last stops, so we had plenty of time on our hands. I couldn’t wait to get off the bus when our stop was finally reached. My parents gave me the “first day is always rough” speech and to my dismay, sent me back the next day for more. I hesitantly took my seat next to Julie and before I could get settled, she offered me her Crayons. Not just one. The whole box.
That was thirteen years ago, but I remember it like it happened yesterday. Julie and I became best friends. We were inseparable, doing homework together, sleeping over at each other’s house and somewhere during that time she became Julie Bean.
Julie and I continued growing up together, always relying on each other during tough times and generally enjoying life like you read about in story books. We had shared school, sports and eventually agreed that boys weren’t so bad after all.
When we were in tenth grade we started to talk about going to college together and the possibility that we might be separated for the first time ever. We knew our friendship was stronger than most, so we really weren’t too concerned. Then tragedy struck. Julie’s father, a healthy, funny, loving, caring “dad” to us both, died in his sleep.
It was Julie who did her homework on how this could happen. Her research informed her about obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and included facts like: it affects four percent of middle-aged men and that most sufferers remain undiagnosed. She shared her knowledge with us and followed up with information that explains why Julie Bean is and always will be, The Amazing Julie Bean. She shared with us that her father was diagnosed, but rarely used the CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine that sat on his nightstand next to his bed. Her next words were life changing. The Amazing Julie Bean said that the minute she understood OSA, she knew that my father was also a sufferer. She went on to tell us more, but what we remember most is her description of how my father sounded just like hers when she walked by his bedroom door.
My father does indeed have OSA and he too did not usually bother to wear the simple CPAP device that also sat on his nightstand, but because of the Amazing Julie Bean, he has faithfully worn his device ever since.
This past summer I got a job in an ice cream shop on the beach and the owner asked me if I knew anyone else that could be trusted as much as he trusted me. The Amazing Julie Bean and I had as much fun as we ever had. I will always remember her as the kid who finally shared her Crayons, but more importantly as The Amazing Julie Bean.