Have you ever heard a child cry for its mother? Today I heard a 15 year old girl cry for hers. But her mother is dead.
The service is in Korean. I understand not a word but understood anyway. That’s child’s crying digs right into my heart. And I learn the Korean word for mommy. It sounds something like umma.
The girl leans forward. Her ponytail falls forward between her knees. Friends, family member perhaps, sit her up. I don’t know where to look. I look at the five tissues I’ve mashed between my fingers.
The son sits up straight, crying. I can’t hear him but his jaw jerks to the side.
If I told you to sit still, right now, at your desk or wherever you are, and tell me where the air is that you are breathing… That’s what this pain is like. You can’t see it. You can’t feel where it is coming from. But it is all around you and inside you all the same.
At least, that’s how I felt when my mother died. I imagine it is how these children feel, except their mother chose to leave them. And you can’t believe you aren’t going to feel this way forever.
The girl leans back in the pew, her eyes close. “Umma,” she says.
Loss is an unmappable country and when you first arrive it is always dark.
So now that I’m home and hours have gone by since the funeral, I wonder why I worry whether my writing is any good. I want to write. I do write. I will always write. And I like what I write. Do I have to be so bloody neurotic about it?