On Grief

I lost my mother two years ago. I didn’t actually lose her, she passed away. She didn’t pass away, she died. She’s gone. She’s not here anymore. Except that she is. With me. Always. It turns out.

(I miss my mother every day. So much.)

When my mother died, I was at the beginning of a one-year sabbatical that I applied for so I could spend it with her. Three years prior, I had moved my mom from Texas to Florida, and she had her own house four blocks from me. It was perfect. My mother is Korean (please don’t ask south or north), and I was born in Hawaii, so living here reminded her of happy tropical days with my father and her new American life with two young daughters.

She would stop to smell every plumeria flower – so fragrant! We planted birds of paradise in her front yard. And hibiscus. And papaya. She filled the backyard with jasmine and bougainvillea and another papaya. Dwarf lemon and lime trees went in the side yard, and an avocado started from seed by her beloved grandson went in a place of pride in front of her bedroom window.

We would take walks together, and she would always stop to point out some cute little flower, or watch a butterfly. She loved the crows who would call, “Huh? Huh uh!” It really tickled her that the crows were like, “No way!”

I spent so much time being afraid of her dying. Dreading it. And then it happened. I was so afraid I had lost her.

And then I saw her. In the flower that bloomed the day after she died. In the butterflies in my yard. I hear her with the birds. And I laugh. And I still cry. I don’t know if I’ll ever stop but I’m ok with that.

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