In Memory of Ian
Those of you who have followed my blog for any length of time surely remember a recurring character, one whom I affectionately call Devil Oppa. Devil Oppa aka Ian is someone I was blessed to meet my first month in Korea at a bar crawl for foreigners. He was one of the Korean leaders recruited to make sure all the drunk 외국인 (foreigners) didn't get lost going from bar to bar. We hit it off, and exchanged info, quickly becoming friends. Ian, Josh, Stevie and I loved going out together.
Over the years, first Josh and then Stevie left, but I stayed, still hanging out with Ian. When my friends asked why I called him 악마 오빠 aka "Devil Oppa", I told them because he was always making fun of me, and we would always argue and trash talk each other. I think they didn't believe me 100% until they met him in person, and realized I wasn't over exaggerating ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ but it was all in good fun. Once, when I asked him why he always gave me such a hard time, he told me it was because he is my real brother, and it's a big brother's duty to make fun of his little sister. Throughout the coarse of our friendships and interactions with each other, that was something I truly felt. He always tried to look out for me, and cared about me as a big brother would.
Ian had a hard time after university finding a good job, and worked very hard whenever he could find work. He did a lot of volunteering when he was unemployed, once even dragging me along with him to help feed the elderly at Haeundae Station. Of course he wanted to spend time with his little sis, but I'm sure he relished the attention he got from bringing a ::gasp:: foreigner along with him, and the opportunity to show off his English ability ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ Even though he kept himself busy, I worried about him. He really longed to settle down and start a family, but his love life, like mine, wasn't super poppin', and the last girl he dated in recent memory was a dud. He eventually started working for his dad, and was really busy.
The summer of 2016 when Joshers visited for the first time since 2011, we went to meet Ian's fiancé. They hadn't been a couple very long and were already engaged, so we were a bit suspicious (hey, lil sisters gotta be protective, too), but after spending the evening with them, we were both relieved to see that she was the perfect match for him. They had a real connection, and they both really loved each other. A few months afterward, they had their wedding, the biggest I've ever seen in Korea. About a year later, they welcomed their first child, my second nephew in Korea: 성준. I met him for the first time in person in February, and immediately took to him. Usually when I meet babies in Korea, they are a bit wary of me, maybe because they've never seen anyone like be before. But 성중 loved me, wanted to sit and play with me almost the entire time I was over. He has his father's spirit. The next time I visited, Ian told me a secret: that they were expecting another child. He was a bit worried about his wife 혜지, as she already had her hands full with 성준, but was determined to help out as much as he could when the second little one arrives. I was so proud of the life he had built for himself, and that he had accomplished his dream of having a beautiful family.
About two weeks ago, I got a call from my ex my old followers will remember as Dimples. I hadn't spoken to or seen him in several years. Even though there was no bad blood between us, I was confused as to why he was calling me, but answered the phone. Dimples broke the news to me that Ian had passed away. I kept saying no, but he kept saying, "Yes, 누나, he's gone". I broke down in tears and he told me to check a message I had on Kakao he would call me back. I got off the phone, looked through my recent Kakao messages, and saw one from Ian that had been sent within the last hour. It was some sort of automated message, the kind I would normally ignore, but when I looked closely I saw his parent's and 혜지's names, along with the dates and times of visitation for Ian's funeral. I lost it.
I promised my parents I would come home this past spring, but in the end went back on my promise, telling them I needed one more year to spend with loved ones here, accomplish my unfinished goals, and tie everything up with a bow. One of my goals was to put more effort into my blog and Youtube channel, showcasing the city I had grown to love so much, and all the people here who made my time here worthwhile. I was looking forward to recording spending time with Ian and his beautiful family, but I've missed my chance. I really wanted you guys to meet him, but now he's gone. Above all, more than me wanting him to still be here, his wife and kids are still here, mourning his loss. There are two little babies who will have to grow up without the memory of their father, and that is what angers, upsets, and frustrates me the most. Even writing that part has brought tears to my eyes, as I sit here writing this in a study room. Why was he taken from them? Their life together had only just begun.
While I was on the phone with my older sister Siobhan, in a taxi with Sagal to the funeral, bawling my eyes out, I told her the same thing. I told her how upset I was that he was taken away from 혜지, 성준, and his unborn baby, right when he had finally accomplished his dream of building a family. Siobhan told me that I should be happy for him, that he accomplished his dream while he was still here. Even though it was for a short time, he still had it, and that was what matters. She was right. And he will live on, in our memories, and in those babies.
In the end, I am just thankful to have had him in my life for the past 8 years, to have seen all he has overcome and accomplished. I'm also thankful that I was here when it happened, that I could grieve here with those who also feel your absence, and had the opportunity to attend your funeral, see you smiling face on that alter, and say goodbye.
Big Brother Ian: You traveled all over the world, meeting new people, experiencing new things, and touched so many lives. We are all so fortunate to have known you during your time here on Earth. I promise to take care of 혜지, my nephew, and the new baby who is on the way to the best of my ability. I promise to tell them how much of a bright, kind, and influential person you were to so many. I promise to tell them how well you could sing Brian McKnight songs, show them all of the pictures and videos I have of you, and tell them how much you loved them. I promise to do my best to love and support them as much as I can, because you're not here to do so. I know you're looking down on all of us, and I just want you to know that I love you, and I will always miss and remember you.
I'll see you again