Monday, 17 October 2005

October 17th 2005

After seven months and many adventures and
non-adventures here in Canada, I'm going back to
Korea.

I will arrive on Friday in the afternoon, and start
the business of getting my life there moving. It's
been an interesting seven months, and I've learned a
lot, but now it's time to begin a new stage.

At this point, so many things have happened in the
last seven months, that to write about them all right
now would result in a novella-sized e-mail, so I'll
save that for the novel, when it comes, and for now,
I'll point out the three most powerful moments of my
spring and summer.

The most powerful moment, the one that will stay with
me the longest and most vividly, was the moment when
Mom stopped breathing. The whole family was there --
the parents and four kids, as a group of six for the
last time. We were singing a song about heaven while
Mom's breathing got shorter and shallower, sometimes
stopping and starting again, with a horrific gurgle
getting louder and louder as she wheezed. Mom's eyes
opened wide and looked up at the ceiling (or heaven,
if you will), and while we sang a song of praise to
God: "Then sings my soul, my saviour God, to thee: how
great thou art!" Mom took her last breath. That song
will never be the same for me: we sang it again at
Mom's memorial in Ontario and I was right back at
Mom's deathbed, as vivid as if it had just happened.
It was, other than a cousin's car accident that mostly
felt surreal, and a ninety-year-old step-grandfather
two time zones away, the first time death came even
close to my family, and it couldn't have made its
entrance more forceful.

The second moment was my brother's wedding -- the high
point is a toss-up between two things: the first was
the moment when the door at the back of the chapel
opened and Dan's new bride stepped into view for the
first time, sending tears spurting to my, Dan's, and
my Dad's eyes (and probably a lot of other people, but
I didn't notice them). Seeing a growing love reach
the point of such a commitment was thrilling, and
balanced the ending of mom's life with the beginning
of my brother's marriage. The second high mark was at
the wedding reception when, as the best man, I had the
honour of making a toast to Dan and Caryn. The
opportunity to give my thoughts at that moment, on my
brother's special day, was a great honour, and I hope
I did them justice.

The third moment was delivering Mom's eulogy at her
funeral, and again at her memorial. Again, the chance
to add my words to commemorate such an important
moment in such a woman's life was a great honour, and
I did my best to offer up words of both love and
truth, with sincerity, and without sentimentality.

I will send another e-mail with the text of the toast
for my brother, and the eulogy for my mother. For the
rest of the story of my summer, I'll let you know
what's coming in a later e-mail.

On Thursday I will leave Canada, and arrive in Korea
on Friday. My amazing girlfriend Exgirfriendoseyo has supported
me and waited for me faithfully for seven whole
months, and I don't know if I could have survived this
year without her. My great friend Matt is waiting
there for me as well, and he, too, has been a solid
rock of loyalty and friendship during this time.
Thanks go to everyone who prayed for me and my family,
thanks to the extended family in Ontario -- seeing you
was also a huge blessing, and a great comfort. Thanks
especially to Cheryl and Zeke and Melissa, Brent and
Ayden, and to the folks at the solid grounds bible
study in Agassiz: your friendships added a bit of
normalcy and fun to a ridiculously intense summer.
Bless you. Now before this starts sounding like an
acceptance speech. . .

The next e-mail is the text of the eulogy and my
groom's toast from Dan's wedding; read it if you want,
trash it if you're not interested, but they were
important moments in my life.

Thanks to everyone on this list, and for the e-mails
and phone calls you've sent.

And I'll be back to bore you with details of my new
life in Korea soon enough.

Rob