With a background in social science, I’ve spent most of my adult life focusing on the things that can be measured and scientifically proven. I’ve left very little room in my mind for the unexplainable. I was never so arrogant as to say that if you can’t prove something scientifically then it can’t be true. I just never paid too much attention to all the mysteries and unanswered questions in life. Until now.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve come to learn that it’s when life really throws us a curveball, shakes us to our core and brings us to our knees that we start paying attention to that previously unexplored side of things. When you lose a loved one you cannot help but wonder where they have gone, whether or not they are still somehow present, and if there’s any way for you to meet them again.
This is where I’ve come to increasingly embrace what I can’t explain. Just because I cannot explain something does not mean that it can’t exist. I also cannot explain astrophysics but that does not mean that I’m in denial of its existence or importance. Consequently, I’ve decided to allow for a little mystery in my life and embrace the unexplainable in my efforts to find healing.
On the day that my friend passed away, I shared an update on Instagram explaining how completely heartbroken I was along with a series of pictures of the two of us together. One of my readers, who also follows me on social media, recognized our picture from an article she had seen on a Korean blog or news outlet of some sort and sent me a link to the article asking if it wasn’t my friend in that article. At first, I had no idea what she meant, but as I copied the link into my browser, a blog entry in Korean appeared. It was clearly written by my friend and told the (wildly exaggerated as per usual) story about how we met in Denmark several years ago and how he taught me Korean.
As I scrolled down the text in Korean, my name “Sofie” stood out at least 10 times among all the Korean letters. The article concluded that we still have a unique friendship to this day and that he is proud to be Korean and loves Korea because it gave him the opportunity to make unforgettable memories. Obviously, this article first had me crying a river because it was so clear to me that this was truly his writing. I could feel him in every sentence. The strange thing is that the article was published online within minutes of him drawing his final breath. It wasn’t written on a personal blog of his but on some site where Koreans can contribute stories about extraordinary experiences abroad that are then selected for publication. He must clearly have sent it to the outlet several weeks in advance.
This experience felt nothing short of a love-filled greeting from heaven. If one of my readers had not stumbled upon this and also seen my post on Instagram and sent me the link, there is zero chance that I would ever have seen it. But I DID see it, and his affectionate description of our story and his repeated mentioning of my name was a tremendous comfort. I want to believe that he wanted me to see this and find consolation and reassurance in his words, and through some mysterious way, he made sure that I did.
In a similar way, I sometimes feel his presence in ways that I cannot quite define. One episode happened in Denmark around a month ago, while I was absentmindedly browsing a bookstore in an attempt to calm the uproar in my heart at the time. Blankly gazing at a whole shelf of books, one title caught my eye “Du gør mig glad” – you make me happy. My friend did not know a lot of Danish but I taught him some, and this was one of the sentences he knew how to say. When I saw this title – I heard it in my head with his voice, cute accent and everything, and suddenly felt warm and relaxed. Skeptics may say that this is just a coincidence and all just a trick of my mind, to which I’ll say that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I want to believe that he is somehow still there.
As a new year’s present to myself and as a tribute to my friend and our unique relationship, I had booked an appointment in a jewelry cafe in Hongdae on January 1. Making your own rings is a huge hit among young Korean couples but I had something else in mind. I wanted to make a bracelet and a ring with engravings that would symbolize our friendship and help me feel that he will always be with me.
I chose the design of a matching ring and bracelet in silver and spent two hours crafting, hammering and polishing before they were taken in for engraving. On the ring, it says 인연 – a special connection or fateful meeting – a term he always used about our relationship. The bracelet says 행복하자 – Be happy – and also has the Korean flag and a heart. He used to always tell me 행복하자 if I was ever troubled by something, and he was so proud to be Korean. In fact, the biggest compliment he ever gave me was “Wow, Sofie – you’re SO Korean!!” That was the biggest praise he could give me. He also used to send me the Korean flag emoji in text messages for no apparent reason, so whenever I see this flag I’m reminded of him.
I’m happy that I took the time to create something meaningful that gives me a sense of having him close to me. I still feel that I’m “under reconstruction” but being back in Korea helps tremendously, and every day I am one small step closer to healing.
Happy new year everyone! Kiss the ones you love~