Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Author:Michelle Zauner [Zauner, Michelle]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Published: 2021-04-20T00:00:00+00:00

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We hoped that my mother could recover and fly to Jeju in a week’s time. Nami had already booked our flights and reserved the rooms. But her condition continued to worsen. A week passed and she remained bedridden, plagued by horrible fever and shaking throughout the night. We canceled our trip to Jeju. A week later, we had to cancel our return tickets to Eugene.

Again I was my mother’s companion through the night. I’d arrive in the evenings around six and stay with her through the morning until my father came at noon. Then I’d take a cab, bleary-eyed, across the Hannam Bridge to Nami’s and fall into the guest bed, where I’d try to regain the sleep I’d lost overnight.

In the hospital I woke with her at all hours, her advocate. When she gasped in pain, I would ring the call button, and when the nurses never came fast enough, I’d screech and point to our room from the fluorescent hallways, babbling desperate pleas in convoluted Korean. I exiled the nurse who failed multiple times to find a vein, leaving a smattering of track marks on my mother’s arms. I crawled into the hospital bed and held her as we waited for the painkillers to kick in, whispering in the dark, “Any second, any second, just another minute and this will all go away. Gwaenchanh-a, Umma, gwaenchanh-a.”

The onslaught of her symptoms was like something out of a disaster movie. As soon as we’d gotten a handle on one, something deadlier would emerge. Her stomach bloated though she hardly ate. Edema plagued her legs and feet. Herpes completely took over her lips and the inside of her cheeks, covering her tongue in raised white blisters. The doctor gave us two different kinds of herbal mouthwash and a cream for her lips, a thick green ointment to help soothe her sores. The two of us kept up with the regimen religiously, hopeful we could remedy at least one of her ailments. Every two hours, I brought a cup for her to spit in and water to rinse, then a tissue to wipe her lips before applying the dark-green goop. She would ask if I thought the sores were getting better, opening her mouth for me to see. Her tongue looked rotten—like a sack of aging meat, as though a spider had cast it in a thick gray web.

“Absolutely,” I would say. “It’s already so much better than yesterday!”

Because she was hardly able to eat, they hooked her up to a milky bag that supplied most of the nutrients she needed to survive. When she could no longer get up to go to the bathroom, even with assistance, they inserted a catheter, and we began using a bedpan, which fell to me to empty. When she could no longer pass food, the nurses gave her enemas. They dressed her in a large diaper and when it released, liquid gushed from the top and out of the leg holes like soft silt.


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