YK’s 365 Release: Day 13

My mother has, over the past 10 years or so, been gradually sending my sister and me bits of our history in the form of old photographs, VHS tapes, crafts we made, and other school/home projects. These she’s been sending from where my parents live, Korea, to wherever we have been living at the time.

She is doing this because, as she bluntly puts it, “we are getting old and we won’t be around for much longer.” Whenever she says or does things that are seated in this thought, a wave of grief briefly passes over me. But as with all of my mother’s life’s lessons, she is unapologetically straightforward, “I’m going to die soon, so you should take your things back.”

Recently I gave her a piece of my art, and I mailed it to Korea. When she received it, she said, “well, you’ll be getting it back soon.” Meaning, “I’m going to die soon, so you’ll be getting it back anyway.” If it were not true, it would be disturbing to me. But because I know that we all die, it is instead a reminder.

The bluntness of my mother’s position about death has taught me to grow up never fearing death. I am not afraid to die and I know it will happen for all of us. If anything, this has taught me to value the present moment always, and to embrace happiness without inhibition. I am always happy because I want to live a happy life. Life is as brief as the breath we breathe in, and I live each moment acutely aware of this. So I always seize the moment. I hold nothing back.

There is no lesson more palpable than reality, and there was never an illusion for me that my mom would live forever. She has aged gracefully, nobly, and with dignity. I have never met anyone stronger than she. She gave us her happiness, so we could be blissfully happy.

Since there are three daughters, the items she has been sending to us are equally distributed. I get 2 bowls from a set, Euny gets 2, and Kate gets 2. I get 1/3 of our baby photos, Euny and Kate also get 1/3 each, and so on. So in a way, we only have a complete set of something if we are together. This is something she has strategically planned, I’m certain of it. As we have all grown older, she has emphasized the importance of a strong relationship between us.  She says, again without a hint of emotion, “Since we won’t be around for much longer, you guys have to be close to each other.”

My sisters and I are indeed very close. When we each left for college, we left Korea and we left our parent’s home. Since then we have never lived in the same city simultaneously. This has, however, not hindered us being able to build close-knit relationships between us.

In distributing our things to us, our mother is contemporaneously letting go, leaving legacy and binding us together forever. What a spectacular thing she has done for us.

This brings me to my release for the day 13 of my 365 Release.

I have a pair of matching desk/floor lamps, inexpensive IKEA ones that are useful for multiple situations. I have held onto them because you can never have too many lighting options. I also disdain ceiling lighting and would rather have 4 floor lamps over one ceiling lamp. Light flooding up to me is more infinite and magical than the other way around. Again, I digress.

I am attached to these only because they are an additional source of radiance, and I am a daughter of the sunlight.

These I am releasing to two siblings, one lamp to each, to emulate what my mother has done for my sisters and me. To remind us of our bond and that, though we are complete as individuals in this universe, we are always connected inevitably. May I always be aware that life is brief. May I always remember I am connected to you, may I never take that bond for granted, and may I always be there unconditionally.

[I created the 365 Release Project to practice non-attachment, letting go and change by giving away 1 thing a day for 1 year. The background, vision and guidelines to the 365 RELEASE project are here. The running list of everything I have released is here.]

4 responses to “YK’s 365 Release: Day 13”

  1. richard says:

    omg, for a minute i thought you were gonna say that you were going to release your part of the “set” that your mom has handed down to you!! then i saw the picture of the lamps again and was like whew

    love this entry as i do all of your thoughtful and beautiful entries. and its enlightening to know that its not only Jamaican moms that remind their kids every chance they get that “they aren’t going to be around much longer”. My mom has been saying this for well over a decade and has outlived my dad. my mom is uber-nurturing, i imagine she regrets that she won’t be able to console me/us for her own demise. i am thankful for all she has blessed us with, would love a couple more decades with her, but indeed she has prepared us well for the inevitable reality. Sending her a gift now in continued celebration of her, ain’t waiting for her birthday! 🙂

  2. YK Hong says:

    it is indeed an invaluable lesson about embracing life in this moment.

    no way i’m not giving up any sets!


  3. […] repugnance toward overhead lighting and preference for floor lamps (see Days 13 and 49) continues with today’s […]

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