Dear Mother-less,

Today hurts. It hurts for so many reasons but mostly because it's a reminder of what you don't have; that person who is supposed to be there for you no matter what, to love and support you, and to share dreams and visions for the future with. I get it.

Some of you may know of my personal struggle with days that celebrate mom's and dad's. When I was growing up with my grandfather, I could more closely grasp Father's Day, but when it came to Mother's Day and any event surrounding moms at school, I had no idea what they were talking about except that my heart ached in deep, excruciating way, and that I couldn't stop it. I felt an overwhelming sense of shame for not having a mom or someone to teach me what being a "lady" meant. And it was a tailspin of emotion that often sent me spiraling into a deep depression.

Over time I was fortunate enough to have some incredible parent-like figures step into my life like, Mary Ann O'Rielly, and Bruce, my college professor, who is pictured here walking me down the aisle. He became that for me in so many ways. There was also my childhood best friend's moms Karin Jenkins, and, Marilynn Apley. My 'mom' became a hodgepodge of generous ladies with compassionate hearts. But it wasn't easy. It took years and years for me to actually accept and trust their love and it's only now, as an adult, that I can look back and fully see how much I was loved by choice, and not obligation.

So today, in light of the celebration and honoring of 'mom', if your heart aches like mine did, or if you are hiding in your bedroom anxiously awaiting tomorrow so you can finally feel normal again, I want you to know I am with you. I am for you. And I know that healing is out there.

I'd also like you to try something for me... I'd like you to take a risk on the people who are in your life telling you that they want to be there for you. I want you to take them up on their offer. And, then I want you to celebrate that, in spite of everything that's happened in your past, you have the opportunity to rewrite your story and love fully. Today can be the line in the sand for you to declare that you will not let the pain of the past and what's been done to you be the way forward.

Instead, indeed, mourn the past with reverence, but then look forward with hope. You can be the one who changes the course of your family's history forever by learning how to love fully, deeply and without shame.

It's gonna be hard, but you can be whole again. I promise.

I love you.

xx Jess

"While I breathe, I hope."

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