In Another Time
by Julie Young
"In all of us is a hunger, marrow deep, to know our heritage, to know who we are, and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning, no matter what our attainments in life, there is a most disquieting loneliness." - Alex Haley
I have a brother. Well, actually, I have many brothers. There is my Korean brother from my birth family. There are my three brothers from my Cardona family. And there are, at least, four brothers I have been blessed with just through life and its circumstances. Terry, Ameer, Andre and Joe, are most certainly my brothers. I trust each of them the way one hopes to be able to trust - utterly, completely, wholly. I know that they would give me the shirt off their backs if I asked them to. I am thankful for my brothers.
But, one brother in particular, my youngest brother, is so much like me but I don’t think he knows it. I’m not sure if he will ever read this column because I am not sure where he is living, whether, or how he is surviving. If you do read this, dear brother, I pray for your forgiveness if it makes you unhappy. I pray that you will see that this is my love letter to you.
I wonder what he remembers before getting on that big, scary, steel bird to take his trip across the seas to America. My brother has never searched for his Korean family. One time he told me that he would be too afraid to find out if they were dead. Heartbreaking.
So much about my brother’s life has been heartbreaking. Beyond being abandoned by his birth parents and sent away from his country, as if there is any “beyond” that; he lived through other traumas including an accident that would leave him legally blind in one eye and our parents divorce. He never finished college. The only child, out of our six siblings, not to.
I know many people would say, he’s in his thirties now, he’s got to move on from all of that. But see, that’s where the huge disconnect happens. The permanent damage that has been done to him has seemingly paralyzed him in ways that some may never understand. But I understand it. It could have been me. I don’t know why it wasn’t really. Just lucky, I guess. This lack of understanding, empathy and compassion, I am willing to bet comes at him from many different angles in his life.
The other day I was speaking with someone who was a bit surprised to learn that, even when an adopted person is adopted into a great, loving family; he or she can still have adoption related trauma. Some of us are able to muster up the courage to search for our past, for our foundation. While some others, because the excruciating pain is just too much to take head on, instead allow it to slowly eat away at us.
I think about my brother often. I am certainly at fault for having lost contact with him. He disconnected himself from our family but I should have never allowed the chasm between the two of us. Because we are the same. He may think we are not. He probably thinks of me as successful and himself as not. But at the core, we are the same.
I wish for my brother all of the things that one would wish for a loved one. He has a heart of gold, which I am sure just makes things harder for him. I hope that he has some authentic love and friendship in his life. And, I hope that he is able to feed that marrow deep hunger that Alex Haley speaks of. I cry thinking of the loneliness that he must feel.
I remember one sleepless late night, when my twins were just a few months old, I was rocking my son endlessly, wishing he would go to sleep. It took seemingly forever for him to do so. While I was rocking my boy, I thought of my brother. I wondered whether his mother, or anyone else, ever patiently rocked him and soothed him at night. Whether he was ever able to experience the love that I was giving to my son that night. I wondered about his mother too. And the tears streamed down my face. The tears streamed down my face because I want my brother to know that he is loved.
He may never be able to hear his Korean mom tell him that from the moment she gave him up she regretted it, as I was able to. Or to feel her hug again. But I want my brother to know, that even though the hand he has been dealt in this lifetime has been unfairly tough, I believe wholeheartedly that we were meant to be brother and sister. I have done a poor job as your Noo-na and I am so very sorry. I wish you could see the sadness in my tears right now. I love you with all my heart. Perhaps, somehow, in another time and space, you will call me Noo-na and I will take care of you the way I was supposed to.