Celebrating Mommy

The kids stayed home from school for over a week after their mom died (February 28 – March 11). We did things that would help us remember Mommy in a positive light and celebrate her. We had a great time. I know that might sound strange, especially since it was the week after her passing, but it makes sense for us on a couple of levels. First, the kids needed time away to mourn, but sitting around the house looking at each other (or better still, fighting with each other) wasn’t much use. Second, So Young was sick for so long that we have been dealing with her ever-increasing absence for a while. So during the week following her death, we weren’t in the middle of some kind of shock phase. We weren’t surprised she’s gone. Instead, we were deeply sad that what we thought was coming finally happened.

There is something about physically being at a significant place that helps you connect with a person who is gone. Visiting places that had significance for Mommy brought up memories, stories, and family history. The joy of talking about her life and our memories of her was interspersed with moments of sadness in realizing she is gone.

On Tuesday we went to GMU, which is where So Young and I were college sweethearts.


Wednesday was a snow day. I’m not sure what happened to Thursday. The good thing was that Prince William County schools were closed both days, so the kids technically didn’t miss school on those days.

On Friday, we visited the National Gallery of Art. We had great memories of that place from a “stay-cation” we took a couple years back. When we got there, Lindsay immediately asked if we could see the Pre-Raphaelite painting Ophelia by Millais, because she had recently studied it in school. It is a darkly beautiful painting that depicts the death of Hamlet’s potential wife, Ophelia. Well, the truth is that the National Gallery doesn’t have that painting, but on that day it did, because a Pre-Raphaelite exhibit was in town with that very painting and many such beautiful paintings by the Pre-Raphaelites. We essentially spent all of our time at the museum in that exhibit. I remember that So Young and I visited a Pre-Raphaelite exhibit in Delaware during college as part of an assignment for one of my classes.

Here are the girls under the statue of Mercury at the museum.

Art Gallery -- Mercury

There is this another area with a fountain in the museum, this one less heavily trafficked and therefore more peaceful. We fantasized that we lived there and it was part of our house.

Peaceful Fountain at Art Museum

We love the walkway to the West Building. We always have gelato and coffee at the cafe there, and then we start going back and forth on the walkway and goofing around until the security folks yell at us. Here are the girls on the walkway on Friday.

Passageway Now

And here I am on the same walkway with So Young in September 2011. (Important: That is not my purse. It is a pink bag. Dads carry strange things.)

West Building Passageway

On Saturday, we drove to Reston and stayed at the Hyatt for one night. We left late Sunday afternoon. So Young grew up in Reston, we met at the Reston Regional Library there (where we worked), and our courtship took place at the town center. So Young had even worked at the Hyatt for a while. It was where we stayed on our wedding night.

I had never noticed that the figure on the Reston Town Center fountain is also Mercury.

Reston Mercury

The girls proved to be adept at shopping.

Shopping in Reston

Here is a picture of So Young with Shannon at a similar outing (just the two of them) last year.

Shopping at Town Center

On Saturday night, the girls and I watched a late night movie at the movie theater where So Young and I went on our first date. We didn’t watch the same movie, because they aren’t playing The Crying Game there at the moment for some reason. (Don’t ask me why that was the first movie we watched together…) We watched the new Oz movie instead, which traumatized Audrey a little.

We enjoyed the breakfast buffet at the Hyatt on Sunday. Breakfast was Mommy’s favorite meal, and she especially loved the buffet at the Hyatt. Things have changed, however, because they closed the Market Street Grill (where So Young and I had dinner the night we got engaged), so we ate in a different area they have set up.


We goofed around in the pool on Saturday and at the gym on Sunday. Here is Shannon at the gym during the trip.


And here is So Young goofing around at the same gym last year.

SY Also Goofing Around

We also went ice skating. It was the last day of skating for the season. This was a really hard shot to take given our ice skating skills.

Ice Skating

For lunch, we ate at the restaurant at which So Young and I had our first date (Uno’s) and ate some of the same food.  (Again, please no questions about why you would take a girl there on a first date…) We had coffee, shopped, and walked around looking at the cute dogs that people were walking everywhere, which made us miss our dog, kind of like how So Young and I missed the kids after being away from home for a day or so.

We picked up Reyna from Nanna’s house and drove back home.

Driving Home with Reyna


12 Responses

  1. Yes, James, this was a great way to spend the week. I love how you guys recreated the photos! And cool tidbits about Mercury and the Raphael. Thanks for sharing!

  2. So gentle & loaded w/ sweetness, James. Are the girls able to also follow in their parents’ wrt journaling (for their eyes only)?

    Still with you all in prayer,


  3. What a lovely way to celebrate So Young with the girls. I love all the pictures and thank you for sharing how you are all doing. Thinking of you.

  4. Thanks, James, for your beautiful tribute to the memories of So Young. Your girls are very blessed to have you, nurturing and loving them. Many blessings of continued strength and comfort.
    Young & Eddie Chung

  5. What a great way for you all to celebrate Ruby’s life! Thanks for this post, it’s uplifting and happy, just like Ruby. The girls are gorgeous.

  6. And the race continues… It is so very fitting that you took the girls back to the start of So Young and your life ‘race’. Now you, James, will continue this journey with the three girls. Thank you for journaling this very bittersweet moment of your new marathon.

    I continue to pray for you and your family.


  7. What a great set of memories to have and to share with all of us, James. God bless, and you all continue to be in my prayers!

  8. It is so comforting to know that you all are finding peace in our faithful God, and exercising creative and joyful ways to remember SoYoung. And also set a good example for all of us to follow…So nice to see you in those beautiful photos!!!

    From Colorado with love,
    Grace and Grant

  9. Very awesome how you and the girls are celebrating SY’s life by doing some of the things she loved to do. I also love how you put this article together and the pictures you took are great. Keep up with the great writing.

  10. Thank you for sharing all of this with us. What a beautiful family!

  11. James, I hope that you will continue to share your life and progress. It is an honor to share in the marathon that you each run.

  12. This was so beautiful. I was delighted to get your text. But….where’s that marathon you promised you and the girls were going to run? You said you were doing Ruby’s favourite things!

    As for the Uno’s…..hey, you were in college. It’s forgivable. Also, when you’ve got the woman right, the venue doesn’t much matter. And you so very much got the woman right.

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