Crying in H Mart (and lots of other places)

It’s now been a few weeks since I finished Crying in H Mart, but I’m still thinking about it. The mark of a great book, I suppose. I started crying on page 1 of Chapter 1.

“Ever since my mom died, I cry in H Mart.”

Well, I don’t cry in H Mart…but I do cry in a zillion different random places, at the most inopportune and unexpected times. Sometimes, it just hits me. The shear sadness of losing my mom. I sometimes forget that she’s dead and reach for the phone to call her when something particularly funny happens. She liked it when I told her funny stuff.

I almost feel guilty being such a baby about the whole thing. The author of Crying in H Mart, Michelle Zauder, was a very young woman at the time of her mom’s death. I had my mother for 63 years.

I feel for the young children who lose a mom, of course; those tykes who will no longer have a bedtime story or a pony tail fashioned by their mother. I mourn those young women who lose their moms before their weddings or the birth of their first babies. I mourn the middle-aged matrons, facing the empty nest and menopause without the council of their mothers.

I had all of that; all of those years and all of those memories. But, the pain is there, just the same.

I’ll be just as happy as a clam and stop in at a garage sale, or maybe a fabric store. I’ll be frying up tortillas for a pan of enchiladas or flipping pancakes for the grands…and it will just hit me. All of a sudden, the truth of my loss overwhelms me and I just can ’t help it.

I cry.

It’s been four years and I thought that things would get better. So far, not. My mother died on the Fourth of July, so I can never forget the date. I remember telling her (sassily) when Daddy died and she tried to remember the date, that I would remember his birth date, not the date of his death. Only one of the many, many sassy things I wish I had kept to myself. I still can’t remember the date that Daddy died, but I dread the Fourth of July every single year.

Crying in H Mart depicts the author’s fraught relationship with her mother. I can relate to that. Though my mother loved me without question, I don’t think that she liked me all that much. And, I didn’t really blame her. I was about as opposite from her as anyone could be. And, frankly, not all that pleasant. But, just like in the book, there was a bond of love between us.

Our two years in Seoul, South Korea made this book even more meaningful to me. I recognized the names of places that Zauner and her mom visited in Seoul, and I recognized some of the names of foods. But, the real meaning in this book for me came with the recognition of the emotions expressed – sadness, regret, (lots of regret), and happiness and gratitude for what had been.

I highly recommend reading Crying in H Mart. If you have lost your mom, I dare you not to cry. Oh heck, even if you still have your mom, I dare you not to cry.

You will cry.

You will recognize the love between a mother and daughter, no matter how imperfect the relationship might have been. You will reflect.

And, you will cry.

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