Showing up.

An art.

A grace.

An action.

Showing up.

It’s the practice of showing people they are not alone.

Grief can be isolating. Because it feels like it pulls you out of the present world and into this strange in between. Where you can be present in a meeting, but also present in a memory at the exact same time.

You tear up at inopportune times. You say things that make people uncomfortable.

You need. A lot. You are a big raw ball of need. And you need to know you’re not alone.

To hear it over and over.

It still surprises me how every time I hear those words, I feel some relief.

But it’s not just the words.

It’s the showing up.

Our capacity to love each other across time and distance is incredible.

The ways friends, family, colleagues, my Momma’s friends, and relative strangers have shown up for me floors me. Knocks me to my knees with gratitude.

A phone call. A text message. A letter. A care package. A visit. A meal. A glass of champagne.

A prayer, continual prayer, so much prayer. Prayers to fill voids and hearts and emptiness and ache.

All of it pours salve into the gaping need. Into the hole in your heart.

Bringing hand lotion to the hospital because you have to reapply hand sanitizer every 30 seconds in ICU.

Driving hours to stand in a rain-drenched mountain cemetery when the heavens wept with you.

Flying across the country to pay respects. No notice, no heads up, no asking, just literally showing up sitting there in a pew.

Opening your home to be a haven, a shelter from the storm, and letting you claim the TV room as your bedroom, never asking when you’re leaving, but instead when you are coming back.

Taking the keys to your new apartment and unpacking all of your boxes from your cross-country move.

Flying across the country to hold your hand, help you organize a life out of all the mess that came out of those boxes, lovingly telling you to stop being a hoarder, and then making you give away all the crap you don’t need. Just like your Momma would. Definitely the way everyone wants to spend their vacay, I’m sure.

Bringing over shelving and a drill to turn your second bedroom into a girl’s dream dressing room.

Receiving photos out of the blue in the mail from an old family friend of your Mom pregnant and radiant at her baby shower for you, which lets you see an expression that you never realized you get from her.

Sharing memories, experience, wisdom. Just sharing.

Not turning away. Sitting in the discomfort, in the awkward, in the rawness and tears. Asking again and again. Checking in. Understanding there is a process, a journey, and leaving space for it.

Sitting beside you in silence.

Showing up.

In ways, big and small. Over and over.

Showing up.

Because life is best walked in community.

And you are not alone.

A motherless daughter’s Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day snuck up on me.

In the calendar of holidays you brace yourself to face without your Mom here with you, it fades into the background.

It’s kind of a Hallmark holiday, right? Turns out, not so much.

I walked blind to the pain that lives in this day for so many. Until my heart was wounded.

The weight of not having my Mom here for Mother’s Day started about a week ahead of time. You start to realize everyone else is making plans. And then, it’s in your face and in your ears. Everywhere.

And your chest feels tight and your heart feels heavy.

For me, it carries the added weight of being the last holiday before my Mom went Home.

I actually hadn’t thought of that until one of my best friends pointed it out. But it’s true.

Last year, we had one of those magical Mother’s Days. We spent the whole day together at home as a family. I was sick and my Mommy was taking care of me. A delicious dinner, easy family time, lots of relaxation.

Before I went to bed, I thanked her for caring for me so well. And we had the most special moment.

I had recently moved home after many years away. I think my Mom was surprised that I ever made it back home. She didn’t expect that.

And our time together as a family was sweeter because of the reunion.

She told me how much she loved having me home. And we hugged and cried. And then hugged some more.

Sweet.

And simple.

One of those moments I will treasure for my lifetime.

So this year weighed on me. It still does. I wanted to plan for it. But it was impossible to know the right thing to do.

But I went with cousins to the garden shop, and I wandered the aisles taking photos of flowers. I hugged my family and smelled the fresh air, the peonies and gardenias.

Met my Dad to roam through an art exhibit. Taking in the beauty of art created from experiences of lives well lived. Thought about how we spend our time.

And something unexpected… messages trickled in all day. From friends who paused their celebrations to send love and acknowledge pain, to take a moment to comfort and walk alongside me.

I sat with my aching heart. Thought of so many who can’t breathe on this day. Felt profound gratitude for every single person who thought to reach out, remember my Mom and me.

Sweet.

And bitter. But also sweet.

Feelings taste delicious.

Feelings taste delicious.

I know because I have been eating my feelings for about 10 months now.

It’s not so terrible; it’s also not a solution.

Especially when you rupture your ACL halfway through that 10 months.

So it is time to stop eating my feelings and just feel them. Feel what happens when I don’t put something comforting between myself and the discomfort.

Part of life is sitting with the discomfort.

There are lots of things we don’t get to choose, that we wish were different. And the only way through those situations is through.

So I started the Whole 30 last week to remind my body and my mind of healthy practices. Like grocery shopping more than once a month, or how to prepare my meals from ingredients rather than takeout boxes, or cooking meals more frequently than just for Sunday night dinner.

30 days of no alcohol, no dairy, no refined or added sugar, no janky carbs. And probably no of something else that I’m missing from that list.

Honestly, cheese is the base of my personal food pyramid and I’m pretty sure champagne constitutes the entirety of the second level. I literally have a cheese and champagne shelf in my fridge.

But when you are ready for change. Sometimes you come to the difficult thing and it feels like it has already been done. Because your health is more important to you than your resistance.

Normally, I agonize over when to start a cleanse, so I can time it just right to miss all important occasions where I will want to sip champagne or eat crostini. And I started to do that again and then I just thought, how do you want to live? Be bold, this starts tomorrow. It was Wednesday.

One of my friends pointed out that I’m usually a little angry around days two through, I don’t know, pretty much every other day of a cleanse, but this time around, it feels invigorating.

I’m not saying it is the easiest or every meal I make wouldn’t be better with cheese. Every meal is always better with cheese.

It just feels good to nourish and listen to my body and, in doing so, refresh my spirit.

So any ideas for yummy Whole 30 recipes and snacks? Hashes and stir fries are my favorite so far.

Lay it down.

Control.

On the surface, it seems like a great concept. I’m a type A, so I’m all for it.

You are the captain of your ship, the master of your destiny.

Except you’re not. At least, not always.

Because if I could control everything, my Mom would still be here.

And even now, ten months on, that’s still what I wish. That my Mom would still be here.

And if we were in control, I’m sure a lot of us would want to change something. For ourselves or for someone we love.

Change something to keep them from the pain.

For a long time, I thought I could control my way out of any situation, out of hurt or confusion. That by being the most organized, the most together, thinking ahead, looking around every corner, being prepared, I could spare myself. Honestly, I still try.

When your heart breaks. When you experience crazy pain. When you can’t change the thing you most wish you could change. You realize you have to stop putting your faith in control. In what you can do or what you think you can do.

You have to lay it down.

And there is One who will pick up what you carry. And then will pick up you.

But I have to hand it over. Hand over control, hand over the outcome.

Do you ever notice that the moment before we release things, there is this burst of holding on tighter? One last grasp at what I can do on my own.

And it doesn’t work. Because we are made to be in community and in communion. We are made for sharing the load.

So I pray to let go, lay it down, and rest.

What we carry.

Some experiences burn into our souls.

Change who we are. How we live. How we work and see the world. How we view others.

I’ve had a few of those. Losing my Mom burns the deepest.

I wish I could say burned, but it burns still.

Who I was is not who I am. I’m the same person, but how I walk in the world is different.

Because with every step now, I carry my grief. In every breath, I carry my loss.

But because of what I carry, in every interaction, I know that I may walk into someone else’s burden. Bump into what they carry. In their arms, on their backs, in their minds.

Grief, infertility, a struggling child, illness, depression, shame. We carry our experiences, the joy and the deep pain. Sometimes quietly, sometimes loudly or awkwardly.

What is wrong with him? Why does she do that?

Those questions used to be accusations. Now, they are openings.

I look at people differently. At my best, I stop before I accuse. I ask why. And I want to know the answer.

I try to see what each person carries, learn how it changes how they walk in the world. Love the person with their stuff. In spite of their stuff. Because of their stuff.

Know that I cannot always carry their load. But I can say, I see that you are weary, you are burdened, you feel alone, lost, confused. Sad.

That’s okay. Sometimes, I do, too.

And I see you.

The first step.

Hi, I’m Jocelyn.

And I’ve lived a pretty charmed life.

Last year, my whole world changed.

My Mom passed away suddenly after a very brief illness.

And it shattered everything I thought I knew.

But in this storm, some things held. Held fast and held me. God, family, friends. Hope.

My Mama Bear had two prayers, among many thousands, she prayed for me throughout my life. I think she’s still praying those prayers.

My Mom prayed I would be bold and be good. She told me that boldness carries blessing; and she counseled there is a wholeness and holiness to simply seeking the good.

During our time in the hospital, writing was a meditation that focused my prayers and illuminated the path ahead.

So I want to do something new for me. A bit raw. I want to talk about grief. I want to be honest about loss—terrible and beautiful.

And to honor my Mama Bear, I want to embark on a journey to be bold and be good. To carry grief with grace. To make the most of my time. Explore what that means. And how it is practiced in my life.

I don’t entirely know what shape this endeavour will take. I do know it has been on my heart to share.

Sometimes, being bold requires a first step. So here is mine. I’m excited and a little nervous for what comes next.

I hope you’ll join me on the journey.