I miss you, 보고싶다 (bogoshipda), jeg savner dig, tu mi manchi, ich vermisse dich, 会いたい (aitai),  tu me manques… No matter which language you say it in, these words are almost as powerful as I love you. After all, if you didn’t love someone would you truly miss them?

I just got off the phone with my husband who’s already back in Europe waiting for me to join him in a few weeks. One of the first things I said was “jeg savner dig” (I miss you, yes I always speak to my husband in Danish). Even though his job requires him to travel frequently, and we’re used to being apart, it’s somehow different this time around. This time, he has left Korea for good and I’m departing later this month.

I’ve read that one thing that truly separates humans from animals is our sense of anticipation. We can look forward to and fear future events in ways that are impossible for animals. Oh, how I wish we couldn’t. Because looking forward to something is often the first step toward disappointment, and worrying about the outcome of future events is the worst possible use of the imagination.

I’ve spent the weekend with my husband partly packing down most of our belongings and partly consumed in melancholic thoughts about how we would never live together in our Seoul apartment anymore, and how I would now have to close the apartment door behind me for the last time alone. While it was my own decision to stay for the summer semester, knowing that my husband couldn’t stay here with me, I have had several moments during the past few days where I have come close to regretting that decision. (Having the stomach flu during the heaviest of monsoon rains did not lift my mood either.) I’m not saying that staying alone in Korea is a mistake but if it is, then as my favorite Buddhist zen monk, Haemin Sunim so eloquently puts it: “Life teaches us through errors. When we accept the lesson from our mistake with humility and gratitude, we grow that much more.”

For someone who loves to travel, explore, learn, and uproot and challenge myself, I actually don’t handle change all that well although I like to say that “the only thing constant is change”. While I’m usually quick to embrace the change after it occurs, I find the anticipation of impending change very unsettling. On one hand I’m sad about soon having to leave Korea and on the other hand, I want to leave immediately and go home to my husband, family, and friends. Oddly enough, being closer to my departure for Denmark makes me miss Denmark even more.

It’s also in uncertain times like these that I miss my dear grandmother the most. It’s been 3.5 years since she passed, but not a day goes by without me wishing that I could speak to her again. She would always have an eye-opening perspective whenever I shared my worries and concerns. And she would listen to me for hours. Having led a long life, she was such a wise woman – educated in the tough school of life with much of her wisdom born of pain. But despite having faced hardship in her life she had such a positive mindset, a refined sense of humor and the most explosive laughter. Her soothing voice and calm advice would always help me back on track when I felt like I was losing my way. Over the past years, I’ve made my peace with her not being here anymore, and know in my heart that she is now my guarding angel. But I still miss her.

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