When I lost my best friend a few weeks ago, I lost my soulmate. And when you lose your soulmate, a part of yourself dies with them as well. I don’t subscribe to the idea that your soulmate must necessarily be your life partner or significant other. I believe that your soulmate (and you may have more than one, though maybe not at the same time) is a person that somehow finds their way into your life to strengthen and uplift you and to give you the happiest memories of your lifetime.
My friend and I were not soulmates from the first day, although we did feel a sparkling connection from the very moment we met. As our friendship matured and we reached a deeper understanding for one another, our relationship developed. He used to always tell me “Sofie, you and I are so close. Our relationship is so precious to me and you’re one of the most important people in my life”. I felt the same way.
We always had two traditions around wintertime – one was “bye bye old year” which we celebrated the last week of December, and the other was “hello new year” which we celebrated during one of the first weeks of January. On these occasions, which we had vowed to celebrate together forever, we would get into deeper conversations about our lives, our pasts and futures, hopes and dreams.
One freezing night in January this year, we were out to celebrate the new year, and we were sharing a bottle of wine on the 33rd floor of Jongno Tower in downtown Seoul. Before that, we had enjoyed a seven-course dinner in a private room at a Michelin star restaurant in Insadong (usually we would eat way less fancy, but this was a celebration after all), and strolled over the grounds of the captivating Jogyesa temple (picture above).
I feel like I can remember every word of our conversation that night. As we were sipping our wine while enjoying the view over Seoul’s magnificent skyline we talked about our relationship and our special connection. He told me “Sofie, I believe there was a greater purpose with me going to study in Denmark when I did. I believe God wanted us to meet. I think he brought us together.” I agreed that it seemed too special to simply be a random encounter.
The truth is that he came into my life when I needed him the most. At that time, in the summer of 2015, I was still coming to terms with the passing of my beloved grandmother the previous winter. She was also a soulmate and kindred spirit and losing her had an incredible impact on my life. Consequently, in the months following her death, I was struggling to make sense of my life. That year, I had also just finished my Ph.D. dissertation and was facing a crisis at work too. What was my new goal? What was my new purpose in life? When all I had were questions as if from out of nowhere, he came into my life with all the answers.
We started out being language partners, teaching each other English and Korean (eventually I would also go on to teach him Danish in Seoul), and we met almost every day for an entire semester. If you go back and read my old blog posts of the summer/fall of 2015 and I write about my language partner, he’s the one I’m talking about. He brought purpose and goals, and joy of achievement back into my life when I most needed it. He developed from being just a teacher/language partner to becoming my best friend and my soulmate. Distance and time were of no consequence to us. We maintained our bond even when we were far away from each other through frequent text messages and phone calls. The conversation never ended.
That night in January on the 33rd floor of the Jongno Tower, he asked me, how I would define our relationship, stating that it felt deeper than friendship. He suggested that we were “super-friends”, which made me laugh because when he spoke in English he had the sweetest habit of adding super to everything for emphasis. Instead of awesome, things would be super-good, and my personal favorite, which I would continue to say to him just to tease him was “to be super-over-late”. Yes, that’s what it is if it’s past midnight. I ventured that since he believed that God had brought us together, we might, in fact, be soulmates. For fun, we looked up the definition on Urban Dictionary, found this explanation, and agreed that this was exactly what we were. Soulmates. We couldn’t have defined it better ourselves.
He then told me that he would always support me and cheer for me no matter what happened and that I could always count on him. While we had countless memorable evenings together, this one will forever stand out in my memory.
Contrary to what many may believe, a soulmate friendship is not always smooth sailing. Soulmates like us would constantly challenge each other and test each others’ boundaries. Even on such occasions where we would disagree and I may or may not have overreacted over some silly thing leading us into an argument, he would sometimes just stop in the middle of the argument, look at me and then laugh. Something that I at the time would find extremely provoking and rude. “Why the H… are you laughing when I’m so mad right now?”, I would say, to which he would answer “I’m just thinking about how much we’re learning about each other right now by having this argument. Isn’t it exciting?” He even made me see fights in a new and positive light because we did learn more about each other and our relationship deepened as a result of our disagreements.
No one is perfect, and he did have a bad habit of always being late for everything which would always annoy a time fascist like myself. I’m sure that me being a time fascist annoyed him in equal measure. Nonetheless, he was a genuinely good guy, a righteous guy, a true gentleman, a self-proclaimed troublemaker, and a lover of life and adventure and music. He was proud of being from Korea, he was proud of our friendship, and he repeatedly told me that he was proud of me.
I mourn the loss of him, while at the same time feeling so immensely blessed for having had him in my life. We were true soulmates. In fact, since that I’m starting to believe that we are not bodies that have souls but rather souls that have bodies, I believe that we are soulmates still. Love always conquers and transcends death, and my love for him will never fade.
On my last night in Seoul before going back to Denmark in July he gave me a big teddy bear as a parting gift. It was the Bandabi mascot bear from the Pyeongchang Olympics. I have secretly named the bear after my friend and hug it tightly several times every single day. “Take good care of it”, he told me when he gave it to me. Trust me, my friend, I am.
A song, I’ve heard a lot recently is “Dream” with Psy. Though we didn’t listen to Psy together all that much, this song about dealing with the loss of a friend just pulls at my heartstrings and makes me feel a little less alone in this overwhelming and all-consuming chaos. I included the version with English lyrics here.