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5 a.m. calls are rarely a good thing. That was the case when the phone rang one cold December morning in 2005. A friend was calling to tell me my sister was looking for me because my mother had gone into cardiac arrest. Minutes later my sister was at the door and she told me what I already knew. My mother was dead.

Days later we said our final goodbyes and then as it always does, life went on. I worked, studied and did what I had to do and completely ignored the heartache. I buried it somewhere in my mind and never looked back. My family had their own grief to deal with and I didn't want to bring them down further with mine. My friends did what they could to help, but I resisted. Mostly I was scared. Scared that if I acknowledge the horrible aching pain that it would swallow me whole and I would never be the same. So I did what seemed easy, I hid it all away and convinced myself that I had "dealt with it" and went on with my life.

Five years later I was in my car driving home. I had my iPod on shuffle and "Wake Me Up When September Ends" started to play. I had heard that song dozens of times before but this time I really listened.

" Here comes the rain again
Falling from the stars
Drenched in my pain again
Becoming who we are"

I felt like I had been punched in the chest. Tears filled my eyes as five years of hurt and anger came bubbling to the surface. In that moment the weight of my hidden grief became completely overwhelming and I knew I had to do something about it. The song so perfectly encompasses the experience of losing someone. Whether it's the studio version or a live performance, when the opening notes are played Billie Joe ceases to be the charismatic, bigger than life rock star we all love. During that song he is one of us. He is another kid who lost a parent, another person dealing with the lifelong effects of profound loss. He is vulnerable, genuine and painfully honest. He doesn't hide his hurt; instead he gets up on stage and shares it with tens of thousands of people night after night. I can't imagine how much courage and bravery it must take to sing that song. It is his bravery that gave me a much needed push towards healing.

Another year has passed since that teary car ride and I have finally come out of hiding. Most days are pretty good but every now and then the clouds roll in and I am "drenched in my pain again" and that's okay. I no longer feel the need to be the stoic; instead I want to be brave.

The strangest and most beautiful part of my story is that I was saved by a total stranger. A punk from California was the only person who could pull me out of the hole I had dug for myself. He made my life insurmountably better yet has no idea I even exist. That's the amazing thing about Green Day. They pull us out of our darkest places, inspire us, give us hope, let us vent and push us on. They are there whenever we need them and they never let us down.

By: Lori Champion
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