Umma & Me

I took a short trip to Northern California to visit my Mom the week or two before Thanksgiving. Before the trip, I co-facilitated a two-day leadership workshop at work. One of the ways we help leaders set aside their distractions for the two-day workshop is to talk about what’s most pressing for them in the moment. To start the dialogue, as a facilitator, I shared what was on my mind. I surprised myself by talking about how thinking about my trip “back home” was causing me to feel uneasy. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to spend time with my Mom. On the contrary, for several years now, I made a conscious effort to relate to Umma. With my first-grade level Korean language skills, I’ve tried to share who I am; hoping to give her a glimpse into me as an adult.

As I’ve opened up to her over the years, Umma has been my biggest cheerleader. With the passing of my Dad, she and I have grown even closer… having each gone through our grieving processes, but somehow coming to a silent understanding of the loss we’ve experienced.

As I faced the room full of leaders who would be spending two days learning about their leadership styles, I shared with them my apprehension about heading home to see my Mom. It was in that moment, in front of a room full of colleagues that I realized that thinking about my Mom triggers the feelings of loss over my Dad.

When I see Umma in person, I am painfully aware of the empty space next to her that my Dad once stood in. I’m still not used to seeing her alone. I’ve only known my Mom with my Dad: they were a unit for many decades.

At the end of the two-day workshop, I made my way to the Sacramento International Airport late at night. While driving home, I took a wrong turn and ended up on a dark two-lane road for more than seven miles. Even with the high beams on, it was hard for me to see the road. I was nervous about the road and it was when I finally made it onto the highway that my palms stopped sweating.

Thirty minutes later, I eased onto the driveway of my Aunt’s house. When I shut off the engine, I saw my Mom slowly making her way toward my rental car. I felt my hands loosen up on the steering wheel. I was so relieved to see her, bundled up in her coat. She was alone and she was walking toward me. There was just the crisp, night air next to her.

I know that my Dad will never walk out of a house to greet me. What I know is that I have this time with Umma. She is here now and I’m grateful for her presence.

Umma and the Golden Gate Bridge.

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Categories: Other Trips

3 replies »

  1. Dear Yon, Thank you for sharing this writing. I could not stop crying while I was reading it. You feel the pain because you miss his presence so much. It must be really hard but I hope that your embracing and sharing the pain with your mom helps.

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