MEDINA — Although Wednesday was Philip Duke’s birthday, his special day was the furthest thing from his mind.
The Medina resident, who turned 62, was thinking about his unborn granddaughter, Jocelyn. Wednesday was when she was scheduled to make her entrance into the world.
“This is her day. I wanted it to be about her,” Duke said in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon. “She deserves at least one day.”
Duke’s daughter, Julia Duke-Young, 36, was pregnant with Jocelyn when she was killed by her boyfriend, Cedric Jones, in March at her home in the 900 block of Red Oak Circle. Medina police said Jones then turned the gun on himself.
In memory of Jocelyn, friends and family of Julia released purple and pink balloons at 7:30 p.m. at Spring Grove Cemetery.
Organized by family and friends, Duke said giving Jocelyn her own day was “nice,” and he thought instead of being on the phone he would be holding her after she was delivered.
Of grief, Julia’s mother, Kimberly, said through tears, “It comes and goes.”
Jennifer Thur, Julia’s sister, said everyone takes it “day by day.”
Kimberly added: “And sometimes hour by hour.”
Julia’s sons, Noah, 10, and Ben, 13, each have a keepsake pendant with Julia’s thumbprint etched on it. Noah said he and his brother wear them “every day.”
Thur said friends and family across the country sent photos of their own balloon launches Wednesday to the family in Medina.
She said although the last months haven’t been easy for her, it’s been especially hard for her parents.
“It’s hard to watch your parents go through it (the loss of a child),” Jennifer said as she watched her parents in the crowd at the balloon launch.
Contact reporter Ashley Fox at (330) 721-4048 or firstname.lastname@example.org.