I’ve deliberately created an exaggerated/fictitious version of myself through Land of Gazillion Adoptees. This persona, dear reader, is the “personality” with whom you engage. This persona is the “personality” most adoptees believe me to be. This persona is the “personality” that I use to shield my true self from the rest of the adoption community. This persona is the “personality” posting on my ridiculously rampant, “over sharing” Facebook wall. This persona ISN’T the “personality” that posted the following status update late last night:
I’ve had other adoptees tell me that I’ve at least been able to reconnect with my mother’s side of the family. That I’m lucky. Perhaps I am, but sometimes late at night I look at pics like this of my son, my mother’s older sister, and two of my cousins standing/kneeling in front of my mother’s grave and wish for something else. I wish for an alternative universe in which my son doesn’t say, “When I was in Korea I saw papa’s mama in the grass…”
Recently I’ve been forced to address my mother’s death. There was the conversation I had with another adoptee, who asked for me to give her a short version of my story. Upon hearing me casually gloss over the part about my mother passing away, she exclaimed, “Your mother is dead?! (Pause) Oh, my gosh Kevin…” There was the startled and very uncomfortable look from my wife’s and my financial planner, who asked about both of our family medical histories. And there was Katie Leo and Sun Mee Chomet’s incredible The Origin(s) Project: Memoirs In Motion.
The play peeled away the bandage, the one that has covered my grief and loss for almost three decades. It allowed my grief and loss to breathe again, to freely exist out in the open. It reminded me that it’s healthy and necessary to explore our personal tragedies. It reinforced within me the notion that, even though we adoptees have drastically different life experiences, there are commonalities that have the power to bring all of us together.
Exploring my mother’s death more openly is a good thing. Coming closer to terms with my mother’s tragic story, which is the integral background for my life, will serve me well moving forward. The process will better prepare me to deal with the simultaneous joy, sadness, exuberance, anger, and bittersweet emotions I will most certainly have as I watch my son sit in front of my mother’s grave again this coming September.