To the people of South Korea,
I am writing this using the most personal and public medium I know.
I am a bystander to your grief. I see your tears at the bus terminal; your shock as more negligence unfolds. I cannot tell you that it’s alright, because it isn’t. I cannot promise that everything will get better with time, because I’m not convinced of the translation.
For the most fleeting of moments, I am living in your country. I am teaching your children. Children who bring laughter to my day. Children who went on field trips last week, and are now home and back to the daily grind of exam preparation, solemnly aware of their good fortune.
Last night, in Gwangju, I had dinner with a large group of expatriates. We were celebrating the success of an event we had organised; attempting, in part, to bridge the gap between the Korean and Foreign community through a mutual love of the arts. We were high on success and relief. Yet with time, we began to take advantage of the present company, discussing the tragedy that has befallen this nation. Many, myself included, were hesitant to take part in the conversation – unsure of anything useful to say. However, sometimes vocalising your grief, your confusion, even your anger, or your blind hope for a miracle, is use enough.
And so it is, that I write to you. Hoping to express my condolences to the loved ones of the deceased or missing; passing on the words that were once passed to me:
All is well
by Canon H. Scott Holland
Death is just an open door,
I have only slipped away
into the next room
I am I, and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other,
that we still are.
Call me by my old familiar name,
speak to me in the easy way
which you always used.
Put no difference in your tone,
wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Let my home be ever the household word
that it always was,
let it be spoken without effect,
without the trace of a shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was;
there is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you, for an interval,
somewhere very near,
Safe and Secure,
All is well.
May you find comfort and strength in this dark time.