We sat around the small wooden table in her home eating, listening, and smiling at all the faces that sat around the little room. I was taking it all in, her home, the assortment of food, and their wonderful faces. She has changed and was now sitting there in front of me, as an older sister who has matured over the years. I wanted to know her past, her dreams, the stories from her life. Who was this man sitting so peacefully at her side comforting her. He seems like a gentle man. I want to know how long they have been married. What had happened to her child? Does she have more children? Finally, I wanted to know desperately, why was I adopted. In the mist of all my thoughts, my heart told me nothing was more important than the time we were sharing sitting around this table.
But I was impatient. I needed to hear the answers to my questions in fear that I may never hear them. I leaned over to Louie, our Tour Guide, and asked him to translate. He advises me that it was too soon and improper to ask such personal questions. I thought about what he had said but requested only moments later to at least ask why I was adopted. I would wait to hear her story that followed after our separation but I could not wait any longer for that one question I had lived with for so long. Once he spoke to her, she paused then looked at me. A thousand thoughts rushed through my mind as if to win her answer. My heart was ready. I looked at her and smiled. Giving her the look that reassured her that her little sister, KyungMee, was strong and able to hear her words.
Louie turns to us and begins her story. He tells us that we were all very happy even when times had seemed at it's worst. She explains to him that we were comfortable for the most part and that she had to work very hard to raise all of us. Back then, she was maybe only 20 years old. But times did become rough not just for us but for many in Korea. It was the late '70s and there was no work. She tells him, she tried to keep us together but did not know how. That she was young and afraid. She had to make very grown up decisions and did what she thought was best at the time.
My heart sank. My thoughts were matched with an answer. An answer that was most likely to win. An answer that tells me to feel grateful. My eyes fill up with tears and I try to hold back from crying, to remain composed. I tell myself, I am ready to forgive her - I had already forgiven her. Then, she tells Louie to explain what had happened and of her guilt. Louie, shares with us that soon after she had placed us for adoption, things got better. That we only were 'very poor' for that short period prior to the adoption. My sister now cries. I cry too. I forgive her. I understand her guilt. How heavy it must have been all those years. I wonder how our past, her guilt, and her dreams had played into her life. I would wait longer to hear her history.
5 years ago