Archive | May 2019

Special Day

Seeker of the Extraordinary

Today is my Special Day.

It’s the first one without the people who gave me a reason to have this day. I’m not sure how special it’s really going to be.

When I was a kid, it was like having another birthday. I honestly don’t remember if we had cake and presents, but it was a well-honored day in my house because it was the day I became my parents daughter. It was the day they became parents for the first time and I was saved from a life in a country that didn’t value women. I don’t know what kind of life I would’ve had if I’d have stayed but as an orphan, I can’t imagine it would’ve been worthwhile.

So I owe them everything.

Tomorrow will be the first day I don’t have one of them to thank. My dad died in 2014 and my mom, in March.

They adopted me when I was two, picking me out from pictures and choosing me from all the others.

I’ve struggled for more than a decade to understand who and why my birth parents would abandon me. I was a toddler and unable to care for myself but somehow I survived. There are far more questions than answers, and the people who have the answers left me on the side of the road.

Me at age two in a Korean Orphanage.

As I grew up, I never thought much about that early struggle to survive. Strangely, I didn’t consider it at all.

My new mom and I in my new home. Day One.

Then I had children and it changed me.

It made me realize that as a mother, there are things I would never do. Abandoning my children was one of them.

Because of that, I began to write.

I’d always been a writer, but when my youngest was two, I was facing personal trauma that was too much to bear. As I looked at him in the crib, I realized that he was the same age I was when I wandered the streets hungry and alone. Something inside of me changed forever so I turned to the one thing that had always given me solace and I wrote a book.

 http://a.co/fCMD9Lo

As Eva’s story poured out of me, so did the pain. My story became Eva’s story, and I realized that there had always been a part of me missing. I’d always felt it but never knew what it was.

Her abandonment story wasn’t quite my own, her story riddled with poor choices and addiction while mine remains a mystery.

Her broken leg was my broken arm and her shattered heart was a reflection of my own, calling out for a mother who no longer wanted her. Left in fear as darkness.

Writing brought healing and so did the laughter of my boys and their tiny voices and endless hugs. With them, I had purpose and I understood why I had survived when nobody cared if I would.

So on my first Special Day without the parents who raised me, I’ll think of them with nothing but gratefulness in my heart. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have this life, or my children, or the freedom to love and create.

I am so thankful for all of this and this makes every day special, for me.

These two make every day special 💙💙

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Orphan

I recently became an orphan for the second time in my life.

My mom passed away nearly two months ago, my father in 2014, and my first set of parents were lost to me for reasons I have no memory of. Compared to most my age, they are gone far too early.

It’s strange to lose that thread; that intimate connection to your early life. Even though I didn’t come to them until I was about three, they were all I’d ever known.

While I should’ve anticipated the losses, they were unexpected. I learned a long time ago to always brace for the unknown, but I had forgotten, lulled by a false sense of security that she was never going to die. And when she did, I wasn’t ready.

(But seriously, how can you ever be truly ready to lose someone you love? No matter how plagued with health issues or illness, can you ever come to terms with letting go? I don’t think so.)

So I’ve had the unsavory task of going through her house and belongings. Deciding what to keep and what to give away, what to sell, what to discard has left me feeling dirty. Even though there’s no other choice it feels invasive and wrong to go through every space of someone else’s entire life.

Although I didn’t find anything earth-shattering or life-changing, I did find a lot of photos of people I didn’t recognize and knick-knacks I didn’t know the story behind. I found stripes to my dad’s navy uniform and their wedding rings that had gone unworn for many years (I’m wearing them now) and other small treasures long-forgotten, but remembered from my childhood.

I was shocked to find so many of her precious memories haphazardly left behind in tattered old cardboard boxes without any rhyme or reason. There were faded, worn, photo albums but many pictures lay In boxes without labels, tags, left unloved and untouched for many years.

As much as I would like to say that I was surprised, that was who she was. Preserving memories and protecting the past was not in her DNA. It was one of the things that frustrated me about her the most. As much as I loved her, our relationship was complicated and often messy. The cardboard boxes full of haphazard memories upset me more than I expected.

I realize that relationships between mothers and daughters are often sloppy and complicated. Especially in recent years, we often struggled to find a common ground and our stubbornness often got in the way.

So as most writers do, I put our relationship on paper. I write about that strange relationship between mothers and daughters because that’s all I’ve ever known. There have been many good memories, as well as many sad ones. The bad ones inspire stories and in those stories I’ve been able to exorcise Demons and quiet nightmares. Like me, my characters face mothers who didn’t always preserve and protect their past.

I never realized it until I became a mother, a fierce protector of my own children, that I needed to purge the anger and resentment that I had toward the mother who buried her previous memories in damp, unkept cardboard boxes.

Complicated and messay.

But I did love her very much and always will, the good memories, also weaving their way through my stories. Her memory always with me. As much as I’ve learned about what not to do, there were things she was great at that I need to do better. She taught me that none of us are perfect.

So, I will continue to sift through her belongings, sort though pictures of people I don’t recognize and blindly give away things that may or may not have been important to her. And as I do so, the only thing I will hold onto is the knowledge that no matter what, she loved me.

And no matter what, perfect or imperfect, I still loved her.

Seven Weeks

It’s been seven weeks since I last saw you.

Seven weeks since they told me there was no hope and you would be gone and I didn’t believe it.

It just didn’t seem possible.

It couldn’t be real.

But it was.

And before I was ready, you were gone.

It’s been seven weeks since I held your hand and listened to your last breaths. You couldn’t even open your eyes and see me. You couldn’t talk, you could barely breathe, and I don’t even know if you knew I was there.

But I was.

We were all there. The ones you loved the most who loved you in return.

Waiting.

Holding our breath.

Crying.

Hoping.

Wishing there could be a miracle … but there wasn’t. Not this time. The miracles had already been spent and you were living on borrowed time until suddenly you weren’t.

You were supposed to live until you were one hundred. You were stubborn and resilient and you’d been through so much worse.

This wasn’t the time. Not this time.

But then it was.

The last time I talked to you, you apologized for being a pain in the butt and I told you that you weren’t. I told you I loved you and you did the same and I thought the next time I would see you again, I would be driving you home.

But you’d never go home again. You’d never see your house, or pet your dog, or sit in your chair, or put your puzzles together.

It was over without warning.

I never got to say goodbye. I didn’t get to look at you and tell you how much you meant to me. I hadn’t done that in so long. Our relationship had gotten messy over the years as mothers and daughters often do. But I still loved you because you were the only mother I ever knew, and you saved me.

I remembered the time years before when I cried because I didn’t know what I would do without you. Then I hardened my heart because I thought I would have to.

Then you asked for so much more than I could give and I grew tired, and angry and finally, sad. But there was always love.

It’s been seven weeks and it hasn’t been the same without you and I know that it never will be again.

But you’ll always live in that space in my heart where only a mother belongs, because that’s where there is always love.