My Uhma, my mom passed away last night. My son and I were going to travel to see her one last time but she passed the night before our flight. I had originally planned on visiting her last Friday but had to cancel the flight because I had a cold and was worried that with all the corona virus panic, that I’d be banned from the flight. I didn’t get to say goodbye, or say how sorry I am for all the pain I caused her, how much I love her, how proud I am of her, how amazing she is, how much she inspired me to be a writer.
This morning I wasn’t able to think clearly, but with my son’s help, and several coin tosses, we decided to still go on the trip. It felt risky to me. I worried that my brother wouldn’t want to see me, that my sister would endlessly preach and that our father would also blame me for her suffering. But I made the right decision, (I thought the funeral would be late next week but it’ll be in a few days). If I had postponed the trip we might’ve missed the funeral.
My bosses warned me about travel advisory warnings and said I might get stranded or quarantined from returning to work, but I didn’t let that dissuade me. My son’s father who co-parents with me, also warned me about the virus but he respected my decision. I told him that I wouldn’t risk our son’s life, if I believed the virus would kill him, I’d never have brought him with me. I packed masks just in case someone nearby was furiously coughing, but we didn’t need to use them. I also packed sanitizer wipes which again weren’t used. We can’t live our lives in fear. Giving in to fear and panic can destroy our lives. People are being fired, businesses are failing, pension plans are being wiped out (again) because of pandemic panic.
The airport wasn’t empty as I expected it to be; it was full of people, most of which weren’t wearing masks. The planes were pleasantly roomy and the flights were drama-free. I saw babies, elderly people and many pregnant women; no one seemed afraid of the corona virus. I received a text from my boss saying next week the library where I work will be closed to the public. My son’s school will close for three weeks also. I hope all of the paranoia will die down soon. If I get yet another junk email from my bank, credit cards, stores etc. about the corona virus, with useless information about the helpfulness of hand washing, I’ll scream. Don’t we all know that we should wash our hands by now?
Death is a part of life but who ever feels ready to face it or to let go of a loved one? The kind Uber driver who drove us from the airport to our hotel, told me about when his mother passed away, and how he wasn’t able to see her. It was sweet to connect with a stranger about mourning. I go from moments of sadness remembering things that my mother said and how she moved, smiled and laughed; then I fight tears back, knowing once I start it’ll be hard to stop crying. Yesterday my tears were primal, animalistic sounds came out of me, deep wounds poured out of me.
I re-packed my suitcases, adding and taking things out. I had made matching bracelets out of precious stones for our whole family, but now mom won’t be able to wear hers, so I’ll wear it together with mine. Unfortunately I decided to leave them at home. I guess I didn’t want them to be rejected, they look like Korean Buddhist-inspired jewelry but my family is devoutly Christian. I didn’t want to offend them so I took them out of the suitcase this morning. I barely slept last night. In the morning I texted my brother to ask if I should cancel my flight and postpone it for the funeral. I got no response. That’s when I started flipping a quarter, heads=go, tails=postpone; heads kept repeating. “What should we do?” I asked my young son and he started flipping a coin too. He said, “I think we should go, at least that’s what the coin wants us to do!”
My son is so innocent. He made me laugh during our flight and he’s having a wonderful time at our fancy hotel. He brings me so much joy. He’s sad about Grandma, (he and I cried together yesterday when we heard the news), but he also wisely knows how to be present in the moment and still enjoy life while it’s here. I’m so thankful to have him with me especially during this experience; he’s the greatest blessing in my life. When my mom first saw him he was a baby, she said he had stars in his eyes. She knew how important he was in my life, she knew how much I needed to be a mother. She understood the deep joy that children bring, simply by existing.