When I first lost my mother 9 years ago, I found it very difficult to be around her side of the family. It was not that I did not want to be around them. It was that they were a reminder of what I had just lost. Seeing their faces, which so closely resembled hers & hearing them speak the language that I heard from her lips a million times felt like a stabbing pain in my heart.
As time went on, I found that surrounding myself with them brought me more comfort than pain. This was also true of random asian women that I would see on the street. Whenever I saw one that had her same hair, the same tightness of her cheek, or her laugh, I knew it was a sign from my mother that she was still there.
Last year an extraordinary thing happened that convinced me that this was true. My aunt (my mother’s sister) came for a rare visit from Wisconsin. While she was here we set up a dinner date with her, my father, my sister and my aunt that she was staying with during her stay. We all met at a Vietnamese restaurant that my sister had recommended. While we were waiting for our meals and catching up, I glanced up and noticed a woman the next table over. This woman looked startlingly like my sweet mama. She was talking with her husband using mannerisms so familiar to me, the way she clicked her chopsticks, the pursing of the lips as she listened to her husband speak. I softly shared with my family what I saw across the way. They all slowly turned to look at my mother’s doppelganger. My sister spoke first “I want to hug her”, and then my father exclaimed “Holy Crap!”. My aunt did not say anything, she didn’t need to. As I looked at my aunt’s tear filled eyes, I already knew what she was thinking. Discretion went right out the window as we all sat quietly staring at this stranger. I am certain this lady knew that we were watching her but none of us cared. Mom made a guest appearance at our dinner that evening & we all wanted to drink her in.
She visits me often in the form of cute little Asian mamas everywhere. So to all you sweet adorable Vietnamese ladies out there, if a stranger suddenly throws their arms around you in a strong embrace, it is probably just me & I just need a hug from my mommy.