i've never seen her before. i don't know what she looks
like. i don't know what kind of a person she is. i only
know her name. carla.
i was 4 years old. i was sitting on my parents bed,
watching tv with mom and dad and my two sisters. as if on
cue, i turned and saw a tear drop from my mother's eye. my
older sister screamed. there was blood on the sheets.
dad got up and lifted mom off the bed. 'get out of the
way!' i remember him shouting. somebody called my uncle,
and pretty soon, they were gone.
'baby,' my 2 year old sister mumbled.
'we're going to have another sister,' my older sister said
with stars in her eyes.
the next day dad came back alone. the three of us ran to
him as soon as we saw him coming up the stairs.
'where's carla?' i asked.
dad knelt before his three daughters and his eyes sparkled
with tears. 'she's in heaven,' he said softly.
'when can we go and see her?' my older sister asked.
he didn't reply. instead, he hugged us all and started to
days later our family sat on a ferry and threw ashes down
into the bay. it was the last we saw of carla.
she was born dead. when blood spilled onto the sheets that
night, mom's placenta broke and it only took two minutes
before carla died of suffocation.
mom never looked at her. she didn't want to see her dead
daughter. dad had seen her and held her in his arms.
grandma saw her as well and i remember her exclaiming that
she was a beautiful baby with long fingers and toes.
as for me, i never saw her. my sisters never saw her either.
a few years ago, mom bought a painting. it was a painting
of four girls: two whispering to each other, and the third
pulling the hand of the fourth girl. nobody could see the
face of the fourth girl. fireworks exploded in the
background. a couple watched the show with their arms
around each other.
mom hung the painting above our piano. 'your grandma said
carla had very long fingers. if she was alive, she would be
very good in playing the piano.'
a few weeks ago, our family went out to a korean restaurant
for dinner with friends. on the way back home, mom
said, 'carla is fourteen years old now.'
we were all quiet for a moment. dad broke the silence, his
voice breaking as well, 'she's watching over us right now.
she's looking at us, looking at her three older sisters,
and her little brother.'
my eight-year-old brother bounced up and down. 'i wanna see
her!' he exclaimed.
mom sighed, her voice wistful. 'she's an angel.'