I received the best Mother’s Day gift ever this year. My daughter bought me an airline ticket to visit my mother in Missouri. I hadn’t seen Mom in a year and a half, and she had since become disabled after suffering two strokes. I figured I’d cry like a baby when I first saw her in a wheelchair, but I didn’t. Her smile and joy erased any threat of tears. There were so many emotions that coursed through those four precious days that we shared. But I steadfastly shed not one single tear.

That is, until I arrived back in Florida and stopped for an errand at Dollar General. At the check out, the sweet cashier asked how was my Mother’s Day. Tears instantly streamed down my cheeks and I began to cry. Right then. Right there. At Dollar General. In the arms of a compassionate cashier. No longer a stranger. I sobbed, “I miss my Mom. I just got off a plane and I really miss her.”

I’m sure the cashier, who was by that time hugging me and consoling me with caring words, thought I was delirious or a donut shy of a dozen. No tear drops in Missouri, but they were falling like rain in Florida. Big girls don’t cry? Oh yes they do! Whenever and wherever they want to. F.B. Meyer said, “Tears are the material out of which heaven weaves its brightest rainbows.” If that’s the case, then I certainly made a hefty contribution to a rainbow somewhere out there on that day.

What about you? Have you had a good cry lately? Perhaps you’re grieving the loss of a loved one or beloved family pet. Let the tears flow. You lost your job — weep freely. Schools have become hunting grounds for violent senseless killings and police are gunned down daily — cry hard. The diagnosis is terminal cancer or you weren’t accepted into the college of your dreams. There’s no shame in sobbing. The fire in your relationship has been reduced to ashes — grab a Kleenex. Scared about the current state of the United States. Tears for fears. Hate your life. Cry like a baby.

Crying cleanses the soul, refreshes the heart and clears the weary mind. Crying is like smiling — it’s universal. We all cry sometime, somewhere, some day, for some reason. Yoohoo! Bring on the boo-hoo!

But can I share something with you? It’s how we react after the crying that matters more than the act of crying. I’ve found it’s beneficial to walk and not wallow. To overcome by not being overwhelmed. To get up and get on with life. Look forward, not backward. Shake it off, dust yourself off and carry on. To do something as opposed to nothing.

For cryin’ out loud, grasp this. Tears cleanse and healing begins. The final impact depends upon how you react.

Cynthia Burton is a Destin resident and former U.S. Marine.