Provided by Julie Toone
Julie Toone, of Bluffdale, Utah, wrote a blog post on overcoming trials more than a year ago and recently posted it in a closed Facebook group for widows who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in response to a group member's situation.
Within weeks after being posted to the group, the post had more than 560,000 views and counting through people sharing it on the social networking site.
In her post, which begins “My name is Julie ...” and is on her blog at breakingthesilence-cam.blogspot.com, she tells the story of how she tragically lost her husband, Jake, in a work-related accident in January 2004, when she was only 26 years old. She originally wrote the now-popular post as a contribution to mynameisjacy.com before posting it on her own blog.
“It felt just overwhelming,” Toone said in an interview. “And heartbreaking, and it felt confusing, if that makes sense. I say in the post, when Jake died, I really thought, this is it. This is my ‘big thing.’ And I remember thinking that I wouldn’t — I didn’t want that to be my big thing. I just hated that that was going to be my trial.
"I was really young — I was 26, and I just really felt like it kind of meant I wouldn’t have any other trials, and I worked really hard to become better. And use positive thoughts and work on it, and the years after he died were just horrible. I mean, they were literally physically painful," she said. "It just broke my heart — my kids would cry every single night and beg for their daddy to come back. So it was just extremely overwhelming.”
The couple had three boys together, and she found out the day after his death that she was pregnant with another boy. She considered that baby a miracle and a blessing, she said in her post.
In her blog post, she discusses the struggles and blessings of remarrying a man, Curtis Toone, in 2006, who also had four boys. They had a son together, Cameron, and then a daughter.
In 2010, she found out one of her sons, Jordan, had autism, and six months later Cameron was diagnosed with a genetic disorder called the 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, which is also known as DiGeorge syndrome. This was in addition to a diagnosis he had received a year before — a brain abnormality called periventricular nodular heterotopia, or PNH. He was diagnosed after she noticed a series of physical and developmental delays including Cameron not talking or making noises and not making progress with speech therapy and other treatments.
“When Jordy was diagnosed with autism, I felt really betrayed by Heavenly Father, like we had an agreement somehow that I wouldn’t have any other trials,” Toone said. “And so his diagnosis was extremely upsetting, and Jordy had a lot of early signs but, I thought his future was really bright. And I thought that he was going to be one of my smartest kids, because he has a real strong ability to memorize. So I felt like I was in the clear with him — and it wasn’t until first grade, and he started to struggle learning. So when he was diagnosed, I was really upset, and I felt really betrayed and really forgotten.”
Toone said that once Cameron was diagnosed with 22q11.2, her perspective changed because she realized it could have been much more serious, because most of the boys who get PNH are miscarried before they are born, and kids with 22q11.2 have high mortality rates, with a hard time making it through their first six months of life. Cameron was 3½ years old when he was diagnosed.
Toone recalls wishing for a trial of illness instead of death at the time of her husband’s passing.
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