Good things happen on J5.

“Mom, good things happen on J5,” I said on June 4, 2016.

My Mom had asked if I wanted to spend Sunday, June 5, organizing and decorating my new apartment. And I told her J5, as I referred to it, was for reflection and celebration, so I was going to the beach.

The next day, I packed a bag with my Bible, books, journals, and sunscreen and prepared to go to brunch on the beach. I hugged my Mom as I headed out, told her I love her, and she grabbed beach towels for me. She was going to a church meeting at noon. I’m pretty sure I probably told her again that good things happen on J5. Sounds like something I would do. Kissed her cheek and hugged her big again. She is so little. And I walked out the door.

It was the last time I spoke with her.

For years, June 5, or J5, has been a day worth celebrating.

In late 2011, I took a risk, moving to Wisconsin to work for a Governor who was being recalled. No U.S. governor in history had ever won a recall election.

On June 5, 2012, we won. Not just a little bit, by a larger margin than the Gov had won his first election. In a victory that stunned pundits and changed the course of a state, I think for the better.

The risk, the stress, the hard work had all paid off. Victory was sweet and it was ours.

That race forged friendships for a lifetime. And we marked the next J5 with celebration.

Good things happen on J5.

In spring 2014, I was stunned to find out one of my cousins had a malignant brain tumor. We are the same year in school and had been getting into just the right amount of trouble together for years. His illness hit me hard.

On June 5, 2014, he had brain surgery to remove the tumor.

As I sat praying on a blanket in a lakeside park, one of my Wisconsin friends texted me: “good things happen on J5.” It made me smile and lifted my spirits. A few hours later, I got a call, the surgery was a success.

My friend was right. Good things happen on J5.

Last year, as I sat down to brunch, I got a phone call from my Mom. It seemed strange because I had just seen her, and I picked up.

It was our pastor’s wife. She said my Mom had fainted during the church meeting, paramedics were there, and they were asking about her medications. Sensing something much worse was going on, I raced home to grab her medication, threw it in my beach bag, and drove toward church.

Last June 5th started my family on a 10-day journey toward an earthly end, an anguished goodbye. A journey laced with tears, sadness, and pain. A journey filled with Hope, and Faith, and Love. A steadfast Hope that doesn’t fail even when everything you used to know falls apart, a Faith that binds us together with the strings of eternity, and a Love that doesn’t let go, sweetly, soothingly, silently, it doesn’t let go.

It is the formidable faith of my Momma that is her greatest legacy. It is the unrelenting faith of my Momma that taught us where to anchor our souls. And it is the quiet faith of my Momma that leads to our greatest Hope.

Last year, June 5th became the pivot point for the rest of my life. But it is still a day to celebrate.

Because a year ago, on June 5, my Mom lived. She lived long enough for us to hold her and for us to be able to let her go gracefully.

So all is grace. And good things happen on J5.

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.

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.