Death can be scary. But to a 5-year-old with faith, it's just a part of life.
When she was 2 years old, Julianna Snow was diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease, a rare and terminal neurodegenerative illness. Tortured by constant visits to the hospital, it wasn't long before Julianna and her parents began to talk about other options.
A 2015 CNN story shared those conversations with the world—the conversations in which Julianna picked heaven over another discouraging hospital stay.
Michelle Moon, Julianna's mother, transcribed the heart-wrenching discussions on her blog:
Michelle: Julianna, if you get sick again, do you want to go to the hospital again or stay home?
Julianna: Not the hospital.
Michelle: Even if that means that you will go to heaven if you stay home?
Michelle: And you know that mommy and daddy won't come with you right away? You'll go by yourself first.
Julianna: Don't worry. God will take care of me.
Michelle: And if you go to the hospital, it may help you get better and let you come home again and spend more time with us. I need to make sure that you understand that. Hospital may let you have more time with mommy and daddy.
Julianna: I understand.
Michelle: (crying) -- I'm sorry, Julianna. I know you don't like it when I cry. It's just that I will miss you so much.
Julianna: That's OK. God will take care of me. He's in my heart.
What Michelle didn't know when she posted this is that Julianna would become known across the world and would be the focus of a controversial and sometimes painful discussion about how terminally-ill children can be a part of deciding how their life might end.
But on Tuesday, Julianna's story ended peacefully at her home. "Our sweet Julianna went to heaven today," Moon wrote on her blog. "I am stunned and heartbroken, but also thankful. I feel like the luckiest mom in the world, for God somehow entrusted me with this glorious child, and we got almost six years together. I wanted more time, of course, and that's where the sadness comes in. But she is free now."
The right of all medical patients—young and old—to die on their own terms has been a subject of heated debate in the past, and those discussions will surely continue. But Moon, a neurologist, is bolstered by her faith and medical expertise in this time of grief.
"She fought hard to be here, harder than I've seen anyone fight, with a body that was too frail for this world," she wrote. "She was so brave—and I hated that she had to be so brave. This last fight was not to be won by her body. It was tired, and it needed to rest. And when it did, she was comfortable."