The Holes in My Heart | Teen Ink

The Holes in My Heart MAG

July 30, 2008
By Anonymous

As a child in Cambodia, life was difficult. It went from bad to worse when my mother got sick. As usual, my father left us and went someplace else. I hardly ever saw him. I loved my ­father and maybe I still do. He wasn’t a nice man, though. He used to hit us, especially my mom. I never knew what we did wrong. Maybe the alcohol took over his mind.

One time after he left, I overheard people talking about how he had fallen in love and gotten married all over again. I never saw him after that.

Meanwhile, my poor mother’s heart was slowly melting. She was paralyzed because my dad hit her so much. She couldn’t move half of her body. So, at the age of six, I took care of her and my two brothers and sister. We had no money and lived in a very rural area without electricity and water. I had to cook, clean, beg for rice, and be the mother of the family. I rarely went to school.

I think my mom had seen me suffer enough. I’d had enough too! So, to make things easier, my mom sent my sister and one of my brothers to live with relatives in another village. People in Cambodia often take care of relatives’ children. I missed them but knew they were being cared for. I was the oldest, so I stayed; my mother needed me to take care of her and my baby brother, Long.

For a while it was just Long, my mother, and I. But then my brother, who was less than a year old, was very sick and skinny. One day I came home and Long wasn’t there. My mom said she had given him away to someone who said they could take care of him. He wasn’t coming back.

I was sad and confused but didn’t ask too many questions. I knew it must have been difficult for her, and we had no money for food or doctors to help Long. We didn’t know where he had gone, but my mom trusted the stranger who took him away, and hoped – we both hoped – that he would be safe and healthy.

My mom and I went on with our lives. We loved each other very much, but we suffered silently day ­after day. We were still struggling with hardly any money or food, and we missed Long terribly but ­never talked about him.

One afternoon, about a year after Long left, we ­received some good news. A man from the city came to our village and told us that a family in the United States had adopted my baby brother. He showed us pictures. My brother, now named Shane, was smiling, wearing nice clothes, and looking very healthy. Even though we missed him and life was hard for us, my mom and I were so happy to know that my brother was okay.

My peace did not last long. One night I had a horrible dream that my mom left me. I was crying and I couldn’t stop. I cried for such a long time that I woke my mother. I told her what I had dreamt. She said that she would never leave me.

Weeks passed, and then my nightmare came true. My mother died of a stroke. I blame my dad because of the injuries he gave her. Thinking about it now, I hate him.

I wish I could have done something. But when I saw my mother collapse, time passed so quickly I didn’t know what to do. I was only eight! The day my mother died, I didn’t cry because I didn’t know what death was. I did cry when they buried her. I knew at that moment that I would never see her again.

After my mother died, one of my aunts took me in. She was very poor, just like my mother. She was mean, and I think she was mad that she had to take care of me, but I had nowhere else to go.

One day the man who had brought the pictures of my baby brother came to visit again. It had taken him a long time to find us because I had moved. He was sad to hear that my mother had died. Then he gave me new clothes, a doll, and more pictures of my brother. My aunt asked him if the family who adopted my brother would want to adopt me too. The man turned to me and asked if I wanted to go live with my brother in the United States. Even though I didn’t know what to expect, I said yes. He said he would find out if it was possible. I waited for what seemed like forever. I started to think that maybe the American family did not want me.

But that wasn’t the case.

About a year later, the Americans who had adopted my brother finally came for me. As I now know, there is a lot of paperwork involved with adoption. They had to get permission from my family, the Cambodian government, and the United States government before they could come to get me.

The first time I saw my new parents was in a hotel lobby. I told the translator that they had long noses. I didn’t know I was being rude; I just wasn’t used to seeing Caucasian people. I was really nervous around them. I think they were nervous too. I didn’t smile until we went to the hotel room and my new mom showed me the clothes she had brought me. My face lit up fast! We didn’t talk much because I didn’t know how to speak English, but she made flash cards with pictures to help us communicate.

The day we left Cambodia I was filled with emotions. I was eager, worried, upset, and confused because I didn’t know where we were going and I had never been on a plane before. All I remember about my trip was that I threw up for most of the 21-hour flight. It was like the plane was a gigantic sickening machine. It felt as though the trip would never end.

When we landed in the United States I was so ­happy. After we waited in a bunch of lines, we walked out of the airport. The air was a lot colder than in Cambodia. In the distance, I saw a strange man waving at us. He looked excited and happy. I ­also saw a little boy next to him. I knew immediately it was my brother. I didn’t act excited to see him ­because I was still feeling so sick from the plane, but I was really thrilled.

My new grandpa drove us to my new home. In the car I looked out the window and saw strange yet beautiful houses. I kept peeking at my brother. He was now three years old and looked so clean and healthy compared to the last time I had seen him. At that moment I knew that I was going to be happy again.

And that is where I am now. The nightmares have ended because of two wonderful people who adopted my brother Shane and me. Adjusting to life in the United States wasn’t easy, but getting adopted is the most beautiful feeling. Even though we are not related by blood, I knew from that first day that my dad and mom cared about me very much. They filled up all the holes in my heart.

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This article has 182 comments.

on Mar. 18 2012 at 2:30 am
VivinaIsabelina, Hampton, Virginia
0 articles 0 photos 3 comments
FINALLY! I'm a daughter of a Cambodian. 3rd generation! My grandma & mom had to leave during the Khmer Rouge. My grandpa & aunt & uncle were murdered & starved. It's nice to know that there's another Khmer out there who knows what it's like to live hard & stay strong.

on Feb. 3 2012 at 2:02 pm
collegegirladventures GOLD, Mequon, Wisconsin
10 articles 8 photos 307 comments

Favorite Quote:
A poet's work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it going to sleep.

~Salman Rushdie

Wow!!! Beautiful story and sweet ending!! I'm glad the family wanted to adopt you and that you were able to live with Shane. Please wrote more! :)

Lit.rox BRONZE said...
on Feb. 3 2012 at 4:14 am
Lit.rox BRONZE, Kandy, Other
4 articles 0 photos 28 comments
wow! lovely story...happy that it ended well and hope it would continue to be good...wat about the others in the family?

on Jan. 17 2012 at 6:50 pm
iHEARTtraveling, Greenwood, South Carolina
0 articles 0 photos 12 comments

Favorite Quote:
God will not look you over for medals, degrees, or diplomas, but for scars.
-Elbert Hubbard

Oh my god. This is the most amazing and intriguing story I've ever read. What about your other brothers and sisters? And how long did it take you to learn English? :)))

Lacie101 said...
on Jan. 12 2012 at 3:29 pm
i really liked it. great story. i loved how it really true

on Jan. 12 2012 at 2:26 pm
And I hope you die in a hole alone

on Jan. 12 2012 at 9:07 am
hobo12321 PLATINUM, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
20 articles 11 photos 62 comments

Favorite Quote:
none, there's too many, although the one about the grapefruit is good. Any by Douglas Adams

i'd like to know too!

on Jan. 12 2012 at 9:06 am
hobo12321 PLATINUM, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
20 articles 11 photos 62 comments

Favorite Quote:
none, there's too many, although the one about the grapefruit is good. Any by Douglas Adams

You have an amazing life, and it's so great that u've been able to share it with others!

on Dec. 21 2011 at 7:54 am
TayTayWrites BRONZE, Johannesburg, Other
1 article 1 photo 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
"This message is for all those people who tried to break me, you failed at your only ambition, I pity you".

Amazing story :) Everyone deserves to be happy :)

ninja17 SILVER said...
on Dec. 5 2011 at 8:39 pm
ninja17 SILVER, Las Cruces, New Mexico
6 articles 0 photos 35 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Sometimes we tend to be in despair when the person we love leaves us, but the truth is, it's not our loss, but theirs, for they left the only person who wouldn't give up on them."

I literally cried while reading this. Absolutely heart touching. Amazing work :) 5 stars!  I'm happy for you :) Miracles work in mysterious ways.

Cheer2013 said...
on Dec. 2 2011 at 12:12 pm
Cheer2013, Deshler, Nebraska
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
dont let someone's opinion become your reality

wow this story was very touching. im happy everything turned out good for you :)

on Nov. 29 2011 at 6:25 pm
chocolateheartz BRONZE, Bronx,NY, New York
1 article 0 photos 6 comments
such a moving story

on Nov. 29 2011 at 3:58 pm
livelife22 GOLD, Orlando, Florida
15 articles 9 photos 11 comments

Favorite Quote:
Love me or hate me, both are in my favor. If you love me I will always be in your heart, if you hate me I will always be on your mind. ~William Shakespeare

this was absoloutley amazing im happy that things turned out better for u :) 

check out some of my work pleez?

on Nov. 29 2011 at 11:09 am
MarissaWhitecloud SILVER, Oskaloosa, Iowa
7 articles 0 photos 84 comments
Great story. I'm glad that things got better for you. I hope you live a happy life.

Mia.bliss said...
on Nov. 29 2011 at 8:33 am
Mia.bliss, Faridabad, Other
0 articles 0 photos 5 comments

Favorite Quote:
Courage is not the absence of fear, rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear; the brave may not live forever but the cautious don't live at all!

Wish you a lovely life ahead! keep writing.............................

on Nov. 21 2011 at 6:07 am
It's such a interesting real story i love it.It made me cry.Hats off 2 you.You r a good writer and express your feeling well.God Bless You

mAll1654 said...
on Nov. 7 2011 at 6:05 pm
Wow I could never imagine that

on Nov. 7 2011 at 3:40 pm
LifesIllusion BRONZE, Cicero, Indiana
4 articles 0 photos 127 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Don't let your fears slow you down. Instead, chase them down and beat them."

This is a beautiful piece. It made me get teary which is hard to do. I'm so glad everything worked out well for you. You mentioned your other brother and sister moved away to another village. Do you have contact with them?

on Nov. 7 2011 at 9:36 am
A.PaigeTurner, San Antonio, Texas
0 articles 0 photos 125 comments

Favorite Quote:
You think that everybody hates you. You should really stop that.- A Good Friend

I don't even feel worthy to comment on this.  I'm glad everything turned out good for you, though.  If you'll excuse me, I gotta go tell my parents I love them.

OceanFey GOLD said...
on Oct. 16 2011 at 7:33 pm
OceanFey GOLD, North Potomac, Maryland
12 articles 1 photo 36 comments

Favorite Quote:
It is easy to hate and it is difficult to love. This is how the whole scheme of things works. All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get. - Confucius

This is a very touching and beautifully written story. It made me cry and it has that inexplicable flow of emotion.