[I originally posted this article on facebook, but wanted to also share it on my blog, so that it has a more permanent space]
“Never say goodbye because saying goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.”
May 7, 2013: Four years ago, my brother took his life. May 7 is one of the hardest days every year because the memories hit me like a brick. Seeing his lifeless body, re-living the funeral service, and remembering some of the last times we had spoken. I have to try my hardest to hold back tears, and sometimes I fail…even now.
So in honor of my brother, I took a day to go somewhere beautiful and to reflect on the good memories. I hopped on a train down to the southern coast of England where nearly 15 miles of magnificent white seaside cliffs awaited me. It was everything it should be, a quiet peaceful day, and clouds that finally lifted towards the end of the hike.
In some of our last phone conversations, I remember him asking me a lot of questions about college. He was thinking about studying engineering, and had mentioned wanting to apply to Carnegie Mellon. He asked me about the application process, scholarships, and college life. He sounded excited and motivated. That was the thing about Ryu. When he made up his mind about wanting something, he got it. He became a varsity cross country runner (got his letterman jacket and everything) as a freshman, was an extremely talented violinist, and a gifted student. He was creative and persistent. These phone calls lasted a couple weeks, and it’s something I will cherish forever.
I know he was suffering, but I don’t know exactly what it was that made him pull the trigger – and we will never know. I can only hope that his last days were filled with peace.
If I learned anything from this experience, it was to cherish life. And to realize that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to, as long as you are alive. It has made me strong and fearless. It has pushed me to be open to new people and experiences, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. It has made me realize that growth is one of the most difficult, yet most essential aspects of life.
One thing I am afraid of is that I’ll forget. That these memories of my brother will start to fade, and that he will just become a person we talk about. It’s still hard to accept that we won’t be making any new memories with him, and that the moments we can remember now are what will keep him alive in our hearts.
So Ryu – I promise that I will never forget you. And that this isn’t a goodbye, but a ‘see you later’.