Let all Roads lead to her
We had to do this. At least give it a try. I shook my head looking at my husband, telling him how crazy it was...a goose chase that I told myself I would never do. My hands pressed against the cool glass window as I peered past the rain drops that steadily hit the other side. My eyes fixed onto the traffic weaving in and out of the circular intersection. My mind slipped away from the conversation that took place up in the front seats of our Tour Guides van. My thoughts raced along side these cars to study their faces but they were moving too fast. They followed a steady stream of lights that signaled the roads that led them to their destinations .
Bridges, underpasses, subways, and brightly lit buildings lined up the streets. People talking on cell phones, carrying bags of laundry, food, or holding hands, were dashing from block to block. Who were they? What were their stories. Could they be her? Could they be my family? Impossible! Yet, I had to believe. What were the chances of finding a phone number in my Birth file and yet, Louie our Tour Guide, managed to find it in the mix of all those forms that created my past. I looked at the people, the buildings, and the cars. I watched for any signs that remained from my childhood.
We drove tracing unlimited possibilities and many streets that I could not recall. Louie repeated the question again, " ..was this building tall? What kind of flags hung on this building...how many?" I shook my head and closed my eyes to visualize the building, the cars, and the roads that led us to her. I saw myself in my first taxi ride. It was a yellow taxi. My eldest sister was sitting in the front. I was in the back. I could see myself looking out the window watching the buildings pass by as the driver drove to our destination. Then, it came to me. It is an image that repeated itself throughout my life and in my dreams. I tell him, " This building was tall? It was white..no grey? It had Flags from all over the world? There was a circular drive that went around the building. I know if I saw it, I would recognize it. I think it was an important building." He continued to drive but nothing familiar passed.
As we headed towards a new tourist site, I noticed the flags waving from the corner of my eyes! "Wait! There! That building...please stop." There, sitting in the middle of tall towering buildings that circled it, was the one from my dreams. Louie tells me that this was a very special building. That it has been there for many years. I tell my husband how this must be a dream. Anything is possible. As we stare up at the building, I tell Louie my story.
Our Last Goodbyes
The magnificent building sat waving it's flags with pride. My eyes did not leave the flags as we drove around the circle. The ride seemed long but my mind focused on the flags we had just passed. The taxi stopped, my sister paid the driver, and we stepped off to see in front of us a very tall house with many beautiful flowers. We followed the pathway that led us to it's great big door. Once inside, my eyes focused on the many plants that sat in small and large ceramic bowls that seemed to invite you into their first room. It was my first time seeing a house with more than one floor. The rooms seemed endless, filled with decorative seats and tables of every size. Decorations and mirrors hung upon the walls. Long drapes sloped against the large windows that looked out into a garden. I was very excited. The lady at the house smiled and told me to look around and to take a tour. My sister gave me a look as I ran off into the other rooms. I felt very giddy inside and imagined what it would be like to live there. I opened another door and saw a large porcelain bowl sitting inside. What was that? I knew it was something very rich people had in their homes. How lucky. Instead of running out to an outhouse or using their little porcelain bowl at night, they were able to use their big white porcelain seat that sat in it's very own room. As I left and shut the door to the the porcelain seat, my sister approached, leaving the lady behind in the adjacent room.
My sister took my hands and looked into my eyes and said these words to me, " KyungMee. I will be back. You must help your new Mother. Be a good little KyungMee. Listen to her. Be good and study hard. I will come back for you soon." I began to cry. My sister turned and walked out through the big front doors. The tears ran down my face blurring my vision. I could no longer see my sister.
From here, my memories jump. It leaps forward to only recollect a longing to go home. It holds pieces to a story that tells me I fulfilled my promise. I worked hard, helped to clean her clothes, helped her with the household chores, and assisted her to cook her meals. And in the end, I am happy, my sister returns to take me home.
Farewell, Awni KyungOk
It is years later, once we have reunited with my surviving siblings that I learn my sister, KyungOk, held onto a very special memory. She tells me in a letter that she remembers going to a rich person's home and all three of us sisters cried together. She tells me, that I give to her a ring and tell her to wear it. I tell her to remember me when we are apart. She tells me in her letter that day was the last time we ever saw each other again. She tells me that she revisited that day many times, wondering if her sister, KyungMee, was older than her, and thought how her sister, KyungMee, cared for her so much to give her that special ring.
She grew up not knowing why she had to live with her Foster Parent. She grew up wondering where we were and what we looked like. She forgot our faces, our ages, and her past. She soon thought her eldest sister must have died. She wondered where her brothers had gone. She wondered where her sister, KyungMee, lived. She carried in her, these questions, and her longing to find her siblings.
It is here, at this juncture, where our eldest sister, KyungSook, puts the pieces together. She explains to us that I had first gone to live with my First Foster Mother. But being so young, I could not keep up with all the chores alone. My First Foster Mother needed someone who could do everything without much assistance since she was not well. She had no one there to help her and needed someone to be there for her until her son had returned from the military.
My stay with her did not last long. My eldest sister returned as she promised, bringing with her my sister, KyungOk. Here, we meet to only say goodbye. This is now my sister's journey. From here, it is her memory. I forget ever leaving her behind. I forget our farewell. I forget the ring I had given to her. I do not remember our last hug together, all three of us..together.
In the end, she disappeared from my visions without explanations or endings. Only a few warm memories stayed attached throughout my life. Little did I know that my ending with First Foster Mother was the beginning to her new life.
5 years ago