Dedicated to Enoch Cho ˚ Mom felt uneasy in her stomach, so she pushed the yearly doctor checkup to next week. When mom got diagnosed with gastrointestinal cancer, she wasn’t fazed by the fact that she had cancer, but was startled by the restrictions that came with it. “YOU CRAZY! An Asian must eat rice!” She immediately left and had an appointment with a Korean doctor, explaining to me that the other one was too “American.” “Miss, you just can’t take in carbohydrates,” the doctor said, exhausted. She left, exclaiming that the doctor was full of “Western” ideas. Two months, they told me. It was the ride back home at a red light when my mom said quietly, “I’m not dying without seeing my son off married.” Two Months Later. “Let go! I must go to church!” My mom was now confined to the hospital day and night. It was Sunday, and she wasn’t allowed to go to church. She turned to me. “Son, take me let’s go!” Five nurses had to hold her down and she was still unwieldy. So on that night, I gave up and called the pastor, and in a few words of explanation, my mother and I had service in the hospital room. A Week Later. I was back in the room coming from home with a copy of “Wicked” when I see that a doctor is standing in front of mom’s bed. I walked toward her as the doctor spoke slowly, distinguishing every word. In a coma, he said. I looked at my mom, braindead and bald all over. March 1 It was my birthday and I was sitting in the hospital room, staring at the creamblue wall. She probably not going to come back, they told me. I shook my head off the idea and reached for the book on the table. I began to read. It was night, and I stood to get ready to leave for home. “Son.” I whipped around to face my mother, the luster of her eyes visible. She told me how she was walking in a tunnel, with a bright light at the end. God was calling her, she
explained, but she pleaded to say goodbye to her son. After she closed her mouth, everything was quiet, or it felt quiet to me. “Happy Birthday son, I’m sorry I can’t make you some miyukgook for your birthday.” And then she was gone, the most influential person in my life. A strong mother who filled the role of a father, too. I sat again and reached for “Wicked.” I began to read, but I realized my face was planted on the pages, and they were wet.