This past month has been an amazing 31 days. I’ve asked people to share one of the most intimate parts of their identity, and have been humbled by their honesty and strength. As I’ve listened I’ve been surprised by how normal it is for people’s stories to be extraordinary. All of the stories have been about love. People have shared about loss, heartbreak, and challenges. A desire for connection, regret, and great sacrifice. So many stories of incredible strength, determination, and courage. I have heard stories that make me ask the question, “If I had been put in that situation, could I have pulled it off? Could I have had that much grace?”
I’ve been asked why I took on this project. I’ve answered it with slightly different answers, but it always comes down to my mom. Last July my sister called me at 3AM to tell me that my mom was in kidney failure. As I was still mostly asleep, I didn’t register what she was saying, but I heard her tone. Her fear cut through the haze of sleep and made me sit up. As the only doctor in the family, my sister is usually very level headed about medicine. When she called me, her older sister, she broke down and couldn’t stop crying. I didn’t know anything, but I told her it would all work out, and within 12 hours, we were on a flight to Korea.
My mom recently underwent a successful kidney transplant, and is recovering well. My dad was her donor. They are both doing well. I am thankful every day that my mom is with us, and that she is relatively healthy.
One of the stories that my mom always told me as a child was of her being a child and realizing that her parents would die someday. It was such a jarring experience for her, and she cried for several days. She could not imagine a world without her parents, and she couldn’t be consoled. It is what led her to her faith, and eventually she brought her siblings and parents to that faith. She lost her mother many years later to cancer. About a year after my grandmother’s death, I asked my mom how she felt about her mom. She told me, “I think about her all the time, every day. I miss her so much, and the pain doesn’t go away. I just wish I could see her. It just doesn’t seem real that she’s not here anymore.” It had been a year since her death, and my mom was not a child anymore, but her pain was still very real.
People’s relationships with their mothers are one of the most complicated of all their relationships. It is crucial to life, development, and growth. In good ways and bad, it makes us who we are, and affects how we act, and how we relate to others. We see traits of our mothers in ourselves and in our children.
Throughout the month I’ve heard stories of generations of women who have made choices that have impacted future generations in incredible ways. I’ve heard stories of unconventional mothers - sisters, step moms, grandmothers, fathers, and strangers, who have taken on the role of mother. Mothers who have taken on the roles of everyone. Thank you to all the individuals who have shared their stories, and those who have journeyed with them through this project.
Below are images with links to each story of 31 Stories of March.