In the spring of 2020, my parents were planning a road trip from Toronto, Canada to visit me and my family in Virginia. Then COVID-19 suddenly halted their plans, putting an indefinite pause to our reunion. Now, it’s been almost two and a half years since we’ve seen them; we’re still eagerly anticipating their visit.
During this in-between time, phone calls and texts serve as substitutes for face-to-face interactions. Memories of my parents have moved to the forefront of remembrance and reminiscing, including those of my mom and dad praying.
My Parent’s Prayers
After twelve plus hours of being on their feet, preparing meals at their local eatery or punching the cash register at a one-stop convenience store, my mom would prepare one of her go-to, from scratch meals: a Korean stew, a pot of steaming rice, and an assortment of staple side dishes. My dad’s footsteps would echo past the wooden hallway, down into the basement. He would find a spot on the carpet.
Without restraint, a roar started from within his chest then reverberated down into his stomach. On his exhale, he cried aloud, “Lord!” “Lord!” “Lord!” in Korean. His pleas of utter dependence were balanced with moments of silence. He made room for tears to express his gratitude and grief. And as his voice carried through the air vents leading up into my room, I laid over the edge of my bed, leaned in with my ear inches away from the ground. I just listened.
My mom on the other hand, was less pronounced. I would call out for her, “Umma” and find her in the walk-in closet with her back facing the open doorframe. She didn’t budge and break focus; she continued. The top of her foot and knees kissed the ground as her body rocked rhythmically back and forth.
Each word bled into the next and created a harmonious alto hum. If you paid close attention, you could hear the distinct groans, desires, and thanksgivings. Rather than retracing my steps back into the hallway, I lingered. I listened for my name.
It’s been a long time since my dad’s booming crescendos and mom’s soft murmurs contributed to my daily concert of background noise, but it doesn’t take much imagination to hear them once again. And when they tell me, “I’m praying for you and your family,” I can see them praying for me as they did when I was a child…