(Photo by Unsplash)
(Photo by Unsplash)

In 2003, best-selling author Mitch Albom wrote a book entitled "The Five People You Meet in Heaven.” There are many people I hope to meet in heaven: Family members, dear friends, a couple of famous people — Abraham Lincoln and Jane Austen, perhaps. The one person I absolutely must meet is someone I have never met on earth, and most likely never will. I know little about her. I do know that she is shy and lovely. And I know her name — Kyeong Sook Kim. 

Kyeong Sook was a teenager from the Gyeong­sang Province of South Korea. On Oct. 6, 1988, she gave birth to a tiny baby girl. She named her Soo Jin Lee. Soo Jin was born four weeks early and weighed just 3.8 pounds. Kyeong Sook wasn’t married and had no way to make a living. In a society where illegitimacy carried a strong negative stigma, there was no way for the 19-year-old college student to raise a baby alone. And because of those unfortunate facts, Kyeong Sook became my angel. My superhero. She gave Soo Jin to me. And by so doing, she gave me a life. A meaningful life of great purpose and even greater joy.

Kyeong Sook didn’t have to carry Soo Jin. She didn’t have to deliver her. She didn’t have to surrender her to Eastern Child Welfare and she didn’t have to give her to me. But she did. And because of those great physical and emotional sacrifices, she didn’t just give me a beautiful daughter. She gave my grandchildren a wonderful mother. She gave dozens of people a loyal and caring friend. 

I wish I could speak to girls like Kyeong Sook – pregnant, alone, afraid and confused. I’d like to take their hands and look them in the eyes and tell them our story. I would tell them every beautiful thing that has happened to the world because of one young woman’s courage. But I can’t. Because no words do it justice. 

Kyeong Sook Kim will most likely outlive me. But I will surely meet her in heaven. And I won’t need words to tell her how I feel. She’ll just know.