A few nights ago, I was driving in the dark of night. You know that feeling when you’re a bit vulnerable in life and you just want to call your mom?

Well, that’s what happened as I barreled down the 5 Freeway on the way to dinner.

I was thinking about next steps in life, and for a moment I just wanted to connect with her. For her to answer my phone call. To hear her voice.

Numerous memories of her looking at me with supreme love converged into a big wave of energy that swept through my body.

“Jen, you have such a special heart,” she told me way too many times to count.

She had this way of making me believe that I was on this planet for a reason. In my darkest of nights after my father died, she’d whisper in my ear about how my heartbreak would lead to my becoming a strong and beautiful woman.

It was hard for the 10-year-old me to reckon with how my dad could be so very alive one moment and gone the next.

No matter how old you get, when you lose someone that you love with all of your heart — you keep waiting for them to walk through the door.

Just days ago, I was working on a storage unit containing the remnants of Mom’s house. I opened boxes that contained photos that she’d carefully organized — with labels like “Jen’s School Photos,” “Lake Havasu,” “Europe” …. there were arts and crafts made by me and my siblings as kids. And there are antiques that she carefully curated over the years.

When surrounded by these things, my imagination makes me believe for brief moments in time that she’ll appear.

People often tell me that she can hear me, she can see me, but when I find myself wanting to hear her voice, or have her tickle my arms, or listen (in a way only she could) it surely doesn’t feel that way.

As I drove the other night, I let every tear out that I was holding back.

“Oh, my Mom … I really wish I could talk to you. I wish I could be near you.”

If you’ve lost a parent or a friend, I just want you to know that we all have these moments. When we have to let the floodgates open and cry out to the heavens. It doesn’t mean we’re weak or that we don’t have faith. It just means that deep within our beings we’re still connected to those we’ve lost. Their souls have taken root in the deepest part of who we are.

If we didn’t feel — if we didn’t reach out for them in the darkness of the night or even under the blazing sun during the day — we wouldn’t be the magnificent creatures that we are.

Let the torrential downpour of your tears cover your face and drift down toward your toes.

When I got to my destination the other night, my eyes were a bit puffy. I confessed to one of my best friends that I had cried my eyes out for a bit.

She gave me a massive hug, and said “Oh, Jenny, I love you.”

It wasn’t the hug of my mother, but of someone who gets it and who gets me.

More times than not, I hold it all in. I think I need to be strong for those around me. But more and more I’m realizing how important it is to share. To let my guard down.

The release of emotions – the willingness to be open and real – these are the things that make our bones stronger and our roots deeper. These are the things that are going to allow for us to move forward and breathe life into moment.

When I cried out for my mom that night, there was no answer from the heavens. But from within my soul, there bubbled up the love that Mom planted in me. It’s there. It’s real. If I can only dare myself to be silent and feel, she’s always whispering… always nurturing… always giving.

She’s me and I’m her. And so I go today with purpose and with kindness – Dignity too – to fulfill my purpose on Planet Earth. Whatever it may be as life ebbs and flows.