16 July 2017


A week ago, I collected lots of Puerto Rican music to remind me of my father.

His loss permeates my soul. He was my anchor in much of my life as a person of color. His love and caring sustained me in my darkest moments … because he understood my sorrows. He gently told me his stories of discrimination and then brushed them off. That is how he survived, and I learned to do the same.

Since his death, I feel so very lost. I need him now. His love surrounded me when I struggled with my role as a mother. He reminded me how very proud he was of me. As much as anyone else said it, I needed him or my mother to say it. As an adoptee, the love and approval from our elders is everything. In most cases, the only people who fill that space are our adoptive parents.

I have searched for the other parents … my original family and my foster family. They hold the key to many of my beginnings. They are unknowns in the crowded subway system in Seoul. In Seoul, I felt their presence in the biological resemblance that surrounded me.

In Wisconsin, I am left to create a space of safety and love. That is our home. So, a few days ago, as I listened to salsa music and did my cleaning, my daughter stopped me to take my picture in the old way … with a Polaroid camera.

There he was. My father was dancing with me as a light. I posted it, and some explained that it must have been a light somewhere or that the camera had something on the lens. But no other photograph she took that night had the same light.

Self-doubt is a terrible thing. But it sank in … the idea that there was a perfectly good explanation for the light.

Then, one of my favorite authors, Sherman Alexie, released a letter about his own loss and his encounters with his late mother. Well, now, I know my father is with me still, and we salsa through the house at all hours!