Posts Tagged ‘mom’

The smell of her hair

Friday, August 13th, 2010

I found this box of shampoo today. A small UHaul box full of shampoo bottles. I think my sister must have gathered all the shampoo in the house and put it in a box to donate to somewhere and then left it in the garage. And every time I walk by it, the smell reminds me of my mom.

It’s sort of funny to think about how cheap the shampoo is. I’m sure there are only that many bottles in the house because she got them dirt cheap on sale somewhere. Dirt cheap shampoo on sale for even cheaper. It’s funny because she liked to dress in Chanel and St. John, carried Louis Vuitton and Gucci purses (the genuine article, not the knock offs). And she took care of her skin with any number of department store brands, but her hair — eh, her hair could stand the cheap stuff.

And now that I think about it — it makes sense. Because our hair is pretty sturdy stuff. Thick and heavy and silky. I guess if you had to skimp on any particular beautifying product, the hair would be the most reasonable choice when it’s as luxurious as ours. Every little penny counts. My mother is quintessential proof of that.

Reminds me…

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

I love the animation in this video. The music is catchy, the lyrics…not so crazy about them, but they remind me of my mommy.

Like mother, like daughter

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

I’m back in socal cleaning out my mother’s house. It’s an endless chore and I make slow progress. What’s been interesting to me lately is discovering how some of my behaviors are inherited from my mother even though I might have never known they were her behaviors (or at least not consciously been aware of knowing). For example: saving receipts. Like every single receipt for everything, and organized by year. I’ve decided finally to start shredding old receipts — anything not from the current year — but apparently my mother didn’t own a shredder. I’ve found 20 year old receipts. In fact, lots of other 20 year old documents. And receipts and documents for all the years since then too.

I found this binder the other day full of magazine and newspaper clippings. Which is a new habit of mine — instead of keeping whole magazines, I rip out the few pages I want to keep and organize them in a binder. I guess I got that from my mom too.

It’s amazing how much of someone’s life you can piece together by her accumulated bits of paper: travel routes via gas receipts, favorite foods by restaurant receipts, personal interests by saved clippings. Some of it I save because sometimes I discover something new or because I want to remember some moment with her, but most of it I shred. Because I’m trying not to be a hoarder.


Friday, November 24th, 2006

Our first Thanksgiving without our mom. It was ok. I usually do the turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, homemade stuffing, plus occasional other holiday food stuffs. Normally I cook a pretty good turkey — not too dry and never undercooked. Well, never until this year anyway. And the gravy was off and I cooked the leftover stuffing with too much water so it was mushy. Oh well. We made it and Doug still said it was a lovely dinner :)

I magically lost 6 pounds this last month (and probably put back on a couple today). I don’t know from where cause I certainly don’t feel thinner, but aparently smoking and stress’ll help you do that.

So changes…I’m moving back to the city. Broke up with the fiance and gave back the ring that was worth more than everything I owned put together at the time that I got it (before I inherited half my mother’s estate — which isn’t that much, but worth more than an engagement ring :)

I got a letter from Wells Fargo saying I was the beneficiary of my mother’s retirement account and it made me bawl. Just thinking about her doing something while she was alive for me made me incredibly sad. And I’ve been thinking a lot about her. I suppose for many reasons — the changes in my life, the holidays, the stress and sadness of breaking up. I adored him, but in the end we just made each other miserable. He brought out the worst qualities in me. And over the last two years that I’ve been with him, I haven’t grown one bit in my life. If anything, I’ve degenerated into a more useless person than I’d normally be. But I think that demoralization can do that to you.

I always try to set a positive spin on things. And I’m excited about having my own space again — where no one will tell me to clean my crap up if I leave it laying over the floor. I’ll miss the pets, but not the responsibility. I can’t wait to move back into the city; I’ve missed it ever since I left. I won’t miss living in the remote woods where I couldn’t spend a night by myself without anxiety and where the roof rats sounded like they were as big as my cats. I’ll miss Frank, but I’m looking forward to a fresh start and a new life.

I’ll spend the New Year’s in Rhode Island again. Which seems appropriate because I spent it there last year while Frank and I were broken up for those couple of months. I’m looking forward to snow :)

Moving on

Friday, April 28th, 2006

going through more of my mom’s stuff a few days ago, i was reminded of how much she expected of us. of all of us. and how difficult it is to meet someone else’s expectations of you, especially when the two of you are so different and value different things.

i was reminded again about how i knew next to nothing about her. in the car last thursday on our way to visit the grave, i mentioned to my uncle that she never told us stories about her childhood. oh that’s because she was so busy. busy doing what, uncle? well our dad died when she was 10… and somehow the conservation ended after i asked how our grandpa died. it seemed like such an important conversation, how’d i get distracted?

jess and i made a trip to the dump today. jess loved it. we were the only two women out there — everyone else looked like a professional and was male. she loved it so much, she wants to go back tomorrow morning (i think she’s just eager to throw things away :). and what a relief to get rid of some trash. we have so many more dump trips to make. and goodwill trips. and craigslist postings. and god knows what else.

i’ve been watching so much tv. i have it on all the time as background noise, when i’m eating, while i knit, hanging out with jess. never really idling in front of the tv; always doing something. little fingers busy, busy. the other night on king of the hill some kid was wearing a “praying is not a crime” shirt, which at first i took to be a nod to the EFF. though doing a search on “is not a crime” seems to indicate that anything and everything can be tied to this phrase so who knows.

so i’ve almost completed my 2nd week of leave. i haven’t gotten as much done on the house as i thought i would. and i haven’t started studying my korean again, but i started writing again and going to the gym regularly again. two out of three isn’t bad, and i still have over 2 weeks to go…

Mostly ok

Monday, April 24th, 2006

i don’t know why it’s been so long since i’ve written. i do know that i’ve thought less about my mom, don’t talk about her so much, mostly think i’m ok. but every now and again driving in the car at night i’ll start crying like i just lost her again. usually when i’m alone. sometimes when i’m in the car with frank.

i realized recently how bad it’s been for me to not talk about her. and now that i’m back home in irvine, it’s easy to talk about her. easy to feel her near when i’m living in her house. i’m on leave from work for a month and am entering my 2nd week of leave. it’s already going by too fast.

i still miss her. and when it hurts it’s as raw as it ever was, but life’s moving forward. for everyone.

Mom in 1996 graduating with her Masters in Divinty.
She still looks so young!

It’s been so long…

Tuesday, March 21st, 2006

I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to come back here. I haven’t blogged since I came back to Mountain View. The 49th day picnic was small with just my sister and I and my uncle and aunt. My dad was there, too, though we weren’t sure he’d make it. I think the 49th day is supposed to be end of the period of intense grieving. Now your altar to the dead one gets smaller. You buy fewer flowers, burn less candles, put her photo in a smaller frame. I don’t know yet if my sister is doing any of these things.

I know my grief has mellowed. I still think about her a lot. I still have my moments of quiet and reflection where I break down and sob, but just to myself. I don’t let anyone else see that; it’s a very private moment I’m having. I still have her photo. Still burn a flame.

Mom working in the office, 1980's
Mom working hard in my dad’s office, 1980s.

My dad and I came across this photo early on. He commented on how hard she always worked. She only ever thought of us.

Visiting the car

Saturday, March 4th, 2006

Seeing my mom’s car was probably the worst thing we’ve done since she died. The traffic investigator warned me several times not to go see it, but everyone warned us about everything and none of it turned out as bad as I thought it would so I didn’t give his warnings much credence. The Tow and Mo people are disorganized as hell though. First they sent me to the wrong facility, then they told me the car wasn’t released from evidence even though two days before they’d told me the car had been released for a long time, when was I going to pick it up? We meant to go see it Tuesday, but I had called and they needed the title and it took us a couple of days to find it.

The car was so smashed up and damaged. Much more than I’d imagined it to be. I thought I was pretty prepared for it after having see the news coverage video of the car after the wreck, but it’d been a long time since I’d seen it, and I had remembered a different image of the car than the one I saw at the tow place.

And there was so much stuff in the car. The officer said there wasn’t anything in it, but he was wrong. There were clothes, her other shoe (which I’d been wondering about when I’d taken her clothes out), makeup, toothbrush, coinpurse. Her glasses. Covered in dried blood. Those were the hardest to see. I thought we had the glasses she was wearing, but those were glasses that must’ve been on her person. These were the glasses she was wearing when she died and they managed not to get broken, but were completely covered in blood.

And there was blood splashed onto the seats and sides of the car, there was blood pooled in the passenger seat, there was blood in the front and back. I just imagined her in the car during the accident. The physical body is just a delicate, fragile thing when compared to a hunk of metal folded in on itself. How do you protect your flesh against crushed metal? Broken glass everywhere. How did her shoe get into the back seat? Did it fly off her foot as the car was rolling over, or did it fall out of the car and they threw it into the backseat as they cleaned up? The back seat, where they threw in the other chunks of car as they must’ve cleaned up the street.

I’d just been talking about how it felt like it was getting too easy. The car, the car ruined it for me. It was a dose of reality for both of us. Sometimes I think Jess is all I have left. My dad’s just as remote as always. And I love him, but he’s distant. Jess is all I have.

Mom in San Diego, CA. 1970

me & jess, ohio.

One month since the car accident

Monday, February 20th, 2006

Today was the one month anniversary of my mom’s death. We visited the grave — I haven’t been there since the 3rd day picnic. I’ve made some progress cleaning and going through stuff. But you’d never be able to tell from the mess around the bed. We keep discovering new little things about my mom. And finding reminders of our past. Nothing much has changed in the last month; I suspect it hasn’t been enough time for healing, forgetting, or neglect.

Mom, California, 1970

Missing her

Saturday, February 4th, 2006

We’re on our yearly Tahoe trip. I was at the Google ski trip dinner last night and all of a sudden was thinking about my mom and tearing up at the table. I’ve kept it together pretty well and I kept myself in check last night, and normally I can get through the day like anyone else, but sometimes an unexpected spike of grief’ll hit me and make my throat tighten.

I have a portable memorial that I created for the trip. A little wooden box with a small photo of her in a frame that my uncle gave me (a small version of the one we used at the funeral), a small cross, some tiny, fake pink roses I found in my room, a pink cloth to set underneath the photo, and a small candle holder and candles. My sister brought up some more pictures of her when she got here and she laid them around the little photo and candles I’d set up. I’ll scan them in and post them when I get back to Irvine.

I miss her, I think about her all the time.

Sharon Ahn (Pyong Nim Cha), baby Kathy, and goat
My mom and me with a goat. Korea.

You’re so beautiful

Wednesday, February 1st, 2006

I was driving home from Target last night after buying a new frame for my mom’s photo and some candles and every song I heard on the radio made me think of her and cry. “You’re so beautiful, it’s true…And I’ll never be with you…” I can’t remember the lyrics of the other song that really got to me, but they were similarly poignant.

We were in the truck driving to Tahoe today and we started into a curve in the road just a little too fast and Mike said, No, death. Just say no to death. And the way he said it made me laugh! But I was thinking, too, that my mom should’ve said no to death. No, death, no.

My sister took a photo of a photo with her cell phone and emailed it to me last night. I wanted to post it last night, but fell asleep before I could.

Sharon Ahn (Pyong Nim Cha) Wedding
Mom’s Wedding (I guess early 1970’s)

Comforting ourselves

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006

It’s funny the little things we do to comfort ourselves, because really, what do the dead know about the fresh flowers you buy them? Or the candles you religously burn in front of their pictures? The little altars you build for them? As if not doing these things could possibly mean you missed them less, that somehow your loss isn’t as intense as it is.

I do it anyway. Another one of those ways to keep myself busy remembering my mom.

I went to work. My co-workers are wonderful. At first I didn’t know how I was going to make it through the day, but the mindless numbness of going through over a week of email didn’t seem so bad after a couple of hours. In fact, it was reassuring — working without having to really work, without having to concentrate so hard. It made the day go by. And another night has gone by. I can’t sleep until I’m absolutely exhausted. I’m almost there.

Sharon Ahn (Pyong Nim Cha), 1969
Mom, 1969

Forty more years

Sunday, January 29th, 2006

I haven’t seen my grandmother all week. She’s been sick and everyone’s been afraid coming to the services, to our house, to the grave, would be too much for her. My uncle says sometimes she seems far away, then she comes back to and is distraught. They go out to search for her and she’s way at the back of her property, feeling her grief. I feel so sad for her, but I have my own grief and I don’t know how to help her. This is the fourth child she’s lost. She’s 97. I thought I’d have my mom for another forty years to love her and make her proud of me. I thought I’d have her until I grew old. I thought it was plenty of time for us to grow closer, to get to know each other better. I thought she’d always be there for me. I don’t know how to deal with this. What am I supposed to be doing?

I’m home now and alone again for the first time in over a week. I feel lost when I’m alone. I can’t figure out what I’m supposed to be doing. I babied my plants when I first got home before Frank left. And after he left, alone for the first time in ages, I cried, then pulled myself off the couch and tried to figure out what I should be doing. I dug through old photo albums and cried over them. I don’t have enough photos of her. I’ve been such a selfish child. I dragged out the graduation purse she gave me after college. The gift I thought was so impractical. I haven’t seen it for ages; it seems to suit me more than I once thought it did. I can’t find the jammies she bought me for Christmas. I’ve been wanting to wear them and I don’t understand where I could have possibly put them. I can’t find them anywhere and it’s drivng me nuts.

Today, I went to my aunt and uncle’s church. My aunts and uncles have been so wonderful and so helpful. This aunt and uncle arranged the pastor for the church service and the reception meals after both services. I don’t think I could’ve handled arranging all that. My aunt’s going to help with the Thank You cards for the church members. We had lunch with them after the service. It was in Korean. I didn’t understand it, but they were warm and welcoming.

We had a picnic at my mom’s grave today. It’s tradition to gather at the grave three days after the funeral. The funeral was Friday. I guess they count the day of the funeral as one of the days. I miss her. I don’t know how I’m going to go to work tomorrow. It seems so meaningless.

Mom in Korea, 1969

The OC Register obituary notice for Sharon Ahn. I swear we looked on the 24th, but didn’t see it. Jess found it the other day.


Wednesday, January 25th, 2006

When Jess and I were finally alone last night, we went into mad cleaning mode. And I went to bed late, but got up early and went back into mad cleaning mode. It’s gratifying to have something mindless to do that results in immediate visual impact. I washed a giant sliding glass door inside and out and it looks spectacular.

We went back to see my mom today. This time we got to see her whole entire face and head. The mortician worked on her for over five hours — we even delayed the visit by half an hour and it was almost another half hour before we got to her after arriving at the funeral home. He spent that time placing many sutures to pull the skin back together, carefully stuffing cotton in places to make her face look normal, washing her hair, embalming her. She doesn’t quite look like herself, but it was a relief to see all of her head. She has a big jagged cut down the right side of her forehead from the scalp down to her eye. The left side of her forehead and cheek were abraded — sort of like road rash. Her right eye doesn’t look quite right — the skin under the eye is puckered and red — probably from broken bones in her head and face — and had signs of minor trauma. Daddy said he didn’t feel any other broken bones anywhere else though and repeated that death was probably immediate. Her hair was beautiful and dark and still wet from the washing. They put this stuff in her scalp to retain moisture that looks like small, clear rocks and that was weird to see in her hair, but it was still pretty. Her skin was so soft and she wasn’t as cold and rigid as she was yesterday — though today, without the crinkly plastic, it was easier to touch her arms and feet and hold her in this way through the sheet and blanket.

She had three pieces of cotton on her face that the mortician said we could remove if we wanted to. And these had cream underneath them (as he said they would — he was very thorough in describing what we’d see and what he’d done to her). When my dad lifted the first piece, I cringed, feeling uncomfortable, but later on, I was lifting them, too, and examining the damage underneath them. It’s impressive how easy it is to get used to something. The first look is always the freshest, the most visceral, and usually the hardest. But it doesn’t take long standing in the room to just get comfortable with it. The cotton for example, or the blood my sister wiped off her face. The first time is the hardest, the most shocking, then subsequent times it doesn’t seem like such a big deal.

We got her clothes, too — the ones she was wearing when she died. J.C. brought out one single shoe that he wiped the blood off of — the only thing he thought fit to look at, but after we asked, he brought us a bag of her soiled (everything else) things with strict warnings about biologically hazardous waste, pathogens, etc.

I’m exhausted. A good friend of my sister’s arrived early today, then Frank arrived mid-afternoon. My aunt and uncle are sleeping downstairs. I have my mother’s bed all to myself. We picked out a bible verse to put on her memorial cards. I still miss her like crazy.

Seeing her

Tuesday, January 24th, 2006

I zonked out last night before I could blog. Someone I met long ago — a friend of a friend emailed with his condolences and said something about how my blog would help me remember the details that sort of drift away, and I hadn’t thought about it, but yes, I wouldn’t want to forget.

I saw my mom yesterday. I woke up early (I’ve been so tired!) and got dressed and ready to go so I could sign for her body since no one really knew for sure who should sign for the release. I called April to let her know what happened last night and to make sure I could come down and sign and she offered to fax it, but the fax was out of paper with no refill roll in sight so we had to go there in person after all.

Hours later, April calls again and says they still won’t release the body. I’d called the public administrator in the morning like the coroner’s deputy had told me to the night before, but could only leave a message. So I called again and spoke to the public administrator on call who eventually transferred me to the John Bunnett who I was to ask for and he kindly told me he’d just gotten off the phone with the coroner’s office. My dad could sign for the body and I (or my sister) would need to sign for the property. Finally. And shortly before four pm, my dad, sister and I, with a herd of aunts and uncles behind us, headed to the mortuary.

Once we got there, April and Missy came in with a medium sized paper bag full of my mother’s personal belongings — just what was on her person — from the coroner’s office. Then April advised us not to see the body. This was her professional opinion as a mortician. And I’d been resolved to see the body, and my dad turned to me and said, I really don’t want you to see the body. On his way to pick us up, he made me grab one of his surgical texts and bring it with me, and in the car I was to look at the facial surgeries section (which unfortunately, or fortunately, did not include any trauma images, just plastic surgery images) to try to prepare me. And when he looked at me and asked me not to see her, I was suddenly full of doubt and scared and anxious. I didn’t want anyone else to see her like that if I couldn’t see her. What was I supposed to do? Jess said she wanted to see her. So we agreed to let dad go first and let us know what he thought. He was gone for a few minutes and I started to worry, then he came out calling for April, who’d left, then told us he thought it was ok.

She was covered up almost entirely. April had told us we were not allowed to uncover any part of her. The only part of her you could see was her nose and mouth and chin. The first look was heart wrenching. Her mouth wasn’t closed all the way — it was slightly parted on the right side of her face, her eye socket looked really red, there was another dark red spot on her cheek, and a bigger one under her chin, but she didn’t look nearly as bad as I had imagined her to look. My dad commented that perhaps for lay people that’s traumatic enough, but he looked under the covers at her head and he was relieved it wasn’t nearly as bad as we’d all imagined it could be. Her nose looked slightly off like maybe it’d been broken. Her nostrils were slightly red. My dad said she had one big cut on her head when Jess asked if her head was crushed in. Seeing her mouth like that disturbed me. My father said she probably had some mandible damage. I kept trying to look up into her eyes and under the towel. The redness of what I could see of her left eye socket disturbed me. Her icy coldness and the crunch of the plastic when I touched her shoulder disturbed me. I couldn’t kiss her face cause I was afraid of touching it and afraid of how cold it would be, but I kissed her head through the towel. I wanted to touch her hands, but wouldn’t dare uncover her.

Then all the aunts and uncles trooped in. And we went home to dinner, and just after 7:30pm, Jess and I had the house to ourselves for the first time. What relief. My aunt and uncle were going to stay, but I asked uncle BK to ask them not to — I hadn’t realized they were just staying out of concern for us. And of course, to keep vigil for my mother’s shrine — the picture, candle and flowers set up on a little table in the living room.

The hardest part was being there and all of sudden being unsure whether or not I could see her. The next hardest part was the contents of the bag of belongings which included a plastic baggy with a little manila envelope with “Soiled” written on it. It contained her eyeglass chain. It was thin nylon and had some of her blood on it. I couldn’t stop crying when I saw that. I couldn’t put it down. The thought of it being on her when she died and being soiled with her blood — I couldn’t let it go.

And then other contents that baffled me and made me so sad. And made me realize again how little I knew my mother. How people loved her and I didn’t know how much. How she had a life and did things without sharing it with me. Did she not share because I didn’t share? Or because she was like that? I had called her on her birthday (exactly one week before mine) and asked her what she was doing. She said Uncle BK and his wife took her out to eat. She didn’t tell me there’d been a housewarming/birthday party for her at another uncle’s new house. I only found out a couple of days ago when someone brought over photos. My aunt told me she’d always proclaim, I have two daughters; I’m so happy and proud. She had dreams and ideas about things she wanted to do that I’d never heard about before her death. How sad then that we loved each other so much, but knew each other so little.


Monday, January 23rd, 2006

I was standing in the backyard staring at a pile of things — my mother was unable to part with anything that might eventually be of some use — thinking to myself how these things and the arrangement of them reminded me of her. Then I was thinking about how that would all change. How we’d clean up and get rid of things, and already so much has changed inside — aunts and uncles cleaning and meaning well, but I can’t stand the thought of them touching everything before I’ve had a chance to touch it and photograph it because I want to see everything exactly how she left it. And I know it probably doesn’t mean much, but it feels really important to me because it’s just one more way to try to recreate her. And the thought that eventually this would cease to be her house or to look like her house makes me so sad.

I’ve been writing in my journal a lot. Sometimes I think I’m ok. Last night was hard. This morning was really hard, this afternoon while I was making funeral arrangements, I kept it together pretty well. My uncle and father would break into sobs and I still managed to keep it together. The coroner’s office had a computer meltdown and they lost case notes for my mom’s case. So the mortuary, after getting the signed release from my dad, picked her up from the Orange County coroner’s office, then had to drop her back off. The deputy at the coroner’s office said that because the case notes were lost, and they didn’t have the official word of the public administrator regarding who had rights to the body (my father, or me and my sister), that they couldn’t release the body. I can’t tell you how frustrating that is — the extra day delays I’ve faced in the last two days. How frustrating it was to get a plot — the wheeling and dealing and the multiple trips to the mortuary and the waiting, ever waiting. And now this. Did you know you could purchase a very nice car for the cost of burying a dead loved one? Even somewhat modestly, which is how my mother would have liked it?

I’ve been wanting to see my mother for days. And I still really want to see her, but now that we get closer to it actually happening, I both dread and look forward to it. I need to see her, but I’m scared of what I’ll see. My father’s worried about it, too. He asked me, are you sure you want to see her? And of course I do. But he’s seen things as a trauma surgeon that’ll steel him for what she’ll look like that I’ve never seen. Sometimes victims of these kinds of accidents have no skin left on their faces, or their faces are pock marked by broken windshields. Dad said from the image of the car on the news coverage, with the windshield broken, and the mangled door… The coroner’s office said we wouldn’t be able to have an open casket, and that my mom had suffered serious head injuries. But how can I not look? Even if it’s more horrific than I can possibly imagine, how could I not take one last look at her? If nothing else, then just to make absolute sure it’s really her. I want to touch her and kiss her and hold her hand, even for just a second. Just a minute or two, please. How could I not?

I write because it clears my head. Makes me feel a little better, even as I’m sobbing. I’ve been trying so hard to preserve her in the things she’s left behind. But I know it’ll all change. That everything’ll change. But I don’t want it to.


Saturday, January 21st, 2006

I had to make this a whole new category because I figure I’ll be writing in it often for some time. My mom died in a pretty nasty car accident on Thursday. I was at the mall to pick up something I ordered when my dad called. I couldn’t hear him. All I heard was “bad news” and “mom” and “accident” and I thought, oh shit, she got into another car accident, or did he mean some weird accident at home? And I ran outside to call him right back where I could hear him and he asked if I was sitting down so I did, and he told me my mom was driving home from her mom’s house and got into an accident and rolled the car into oncoming traffic and had died. I asked about other cars, I asked if he saw her in the hospital. No, and no. She didn’t even make it to the hospital. I was already bawling, but somehow these things made it seem even worse. And I haven’t really stopped crying since. All I keep thinking is, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. Sorry that I hadn’t spoken to her since Christmas. Sorry that I never called again when I left my Happy New Year’s message and told her I’d call back since I hadn’t gotten a hold of her. Sorry that I hadn’t called her the day before on my sister’s birthday, though that’s something I would never do anyway. Sorry for millions of little things — sorry for all the hurt and sadness and loneliness she’s felt over the last two and half years, sorry I didn’t call enough, sorry I left her out of my life. I loved her as unconditionally as she loved me, but while I knew she loved me so much, I wonder if she ever knew how much I loved her and how much she meant to me.

She wasn’t perfect, she could drive me crazy. But this last Christmas, I felt like she’d softened and she’d been starting to look and sound happier in the last few months than she had since my father left, and I had a really good time with her. And left wishing I’d gotten to spend more time with her. I drove around the car she died in when I was home, and remember thinking, this car’s a junker, my mom shouldn’t be driving it. She deserves a new car. And then I went home and forgot about it. I was always afraid she’d die in a car accident. Always thought she was a slightly careless driver. But drifting off the shoulder doesn’t seem like it should be the death of you. And part of me still blames that car, and I wish I’d just bought her a new one like I’d been thinking of doing. I could get caught up in regrets for the rest of my life, but then how would I continue living?

I so badly wanted to see her, but the coroner’s office won’t let you come view the body. And now I won’t see her until Monday at the earliest. I need to see her. I want to touch her, to kiss her one last time. Everything I do, everyone I see here, reminds me of her. Of how I’ll never again share a meal with her, or enjoy something she cooked especially for me. How we’ll never go shopping together again, how I’ll never get to run another errand for her, or sit at the table and have tea, or watch another movie with her, or learn her recipes. The thing that kills me is that I never really got to know her. Neither one of us spoke a common language fluently enough to really share with each other. And I’ll never hear her stories in her words. Never really know what she thought or felt, or what she was really capable of. Or even what she was really interested in. I haven’t had the time or the energy to really start going through her things yet, but I’ve been sleeping in her bed, on her side, because I can’t sleep anywhere else and the things I see around me break my heart, I can’t even tell you how or why, but it hurts me so much, I sometimes wonder if I’ll be able to get through it. Who can live like this?

Umma. My mommy. Mom, mother. I’ve lost the one person in the entire world who thinks that I am one of the three most important people in the world (my sister and father being the other two). And there will never be another person in my life who feels the same way about me. And I blew it with her. I keep thinking to myself that everything is just too little, too late. Life with my mother had its hard times, but I would go back to the most difficult of them and relive all the hurt and anger and sadness of that time if that meant I could be with her again. Nothing is too little, just don’t let it be too late.

News articles:

None of the news stories are quite entirely correct. I don’t think she was ejected from the vehicle. She was travelling on the southbound 261 when she drifted into the shoulder, tried to correct, but over-corrected and went across the freeway and into the center divider, flipped the car over all the lanes of opposing traffic to land on the right shoulder of the northbound 261. She died of blunt force trauma (from hitting the A frame) and pretty much died immediately. I’ve been obsessing over lots of details, and one of them is the terror and fear she must have felt as the car went out of control and until she became unconscious. I would do anything in the world to be able to take that moment of fear from her.

Family at Christmas

Sunday, January 2nd, 2005

Spending time with family this holiday I was wondering what it was like to grow up in one culture, one country with certain expectations of your family, and then to be transplanted as an adult to another country. You’ve been here for multiple decades, but do those expectations of your family still exist?

Christmas was nice, but busy. I met my sister’s boyfriend’s mother and brother. I saw my son and spent Christmas morning with his family (and realized again as I always do when I get to spend time with them that I miss seeing them terribly). The mothers are devout non-Catholic Christian. At dinner with Doug’s mom and my mom sitting across from each other I hear Doug’s mom ask, So Sharon, when did you come to Christ? and I almost snorted water out of my nose. I’ve been telling all my friends because it’s such an incredulous question — to me anyway. And to most people I know. It’s a completely meaningless and non-sensical question if you yourself are not a devout Christian. But the two of them were dead serious about it.

It was nice to see my mother socializing with someone. Patty kept saying what a wonderful job she did raising us girls and all I could think was how superficial most relationships are. How when you first meet people all you really see is someone’s ability to be social and polite. Meeting the three of us — my mother, my sister and me, you’d have no idea the ways we hurt each other, the ways we’re cruel and disappoint. But I suppose that’s why familial relationships are so complex and painful — you don’t get to know most people that intimately, you don’t have to spend that much time with most people. But when you do, it’s equal parts heartache and unconditional love that make it worthwhile.


Thursday, December 2nd, 2004

I love the holidays. Even though it’s stressful to get away from work, and there’s never enough time to bake all the goodies and get all the gifts and pack all the clothes in a timely manner, I still love the holidays.

Highlights from the trip:

  • Jess in her 4 inch heels and frilly skirt with an apron tied around her 20 inch waist looking like she stepped right out of Stepford wives.
  • Mention of Boise on the television. Josh: Boise’s the capital of Idaho. Yes, it is. Jess: Idaho? Josh: Yes you are! Much laughter ensues at Jess’s expense :)
  • Hot cranberry guts pop out of the pan my mom’s stirring and land on my finger. I say fuck. My mother looks at me in horror, the cranberries don’t understand what you’re saying. All the better reason to swear at them!