Crying in H Mart

Excerpts from the book of Michelle Zauner

Left with her in the woods, I was overwhelmed by her time and attention, a devotion that I learned could both be an auspicious privilege and have smothering consequences. My mother was a homemaker. Making a home had been her livelihood since I was born, and while she was vigilant and protective, she wasn’t what you would call coddling.

It was hard to decipher what he was reading aloud. From what I gathered it was a list of ten commitments, but there were so many words I had never heard before, I couldn’t help but let out a laugh when, nearing the end, he intoned “what procellous awesomeness does not in you abound.”

I picked what I thought to be the most tasteful, a bronze headstone with ivy embossed along the edges. On it we arranged to record her name, birth and death days, and lovely mother, wife, and best friend.

Lovely was an adjective my mother adored. She’d told me once if pressed to describe me in a single word, lovely would be the one she’d choose. She felt it encompassed an ideal beauty and ardor. It felt a fitting epitaph. To be a loving mother was to be known for a service, but to be a lovely mother was to possess a charm all your own.

We took her remains to the gravesite. The procession was private, just two cars full of the family staying with us. Her plot was under a tree nestled high on the cemetery’s sloping hill. I looked down at the headstone.

“Dad, it says ‘loving…’ ” I whispered.