S/ - - BEAUTY -

Day, 2003, Korea. An email ar­rives, sent from my friend Conor’s ac­count. Sub­ject line: Sad news. Conor and I have been cor­re­spond­ing while he’s in hospital re­cov­er­ing from brain cancer surgery, and as soon as I see that sub­ject line, I know he’s gone. The mes­sage comes from an aunt who had ac­cess to his ac­count in case of the worst. I tell my­self I’ll an­swer her tonight. I spend an hour cry­ing, then join my work­mates for Christ­mas, try­ing to con­tain my misery. I don’t re­ply that night, or the next, or the next. Even­tu­ally, so much time passes that it seems too late, and I never tell Conor’s fam­ily, whom I’ve never met, what he meant to me.

When I rank my re­grets, this is the most se­ri­ous; heed­ing Dr. Roese’s ad­vice, I ad­dress it first. I write to Conor’s par­ents, shar­ing my mem­o­ries of him and apol­o­giz­ing for the long de­lay.

Pri­vately, I try to un­der­stand my past in­ac­tion, link­ing my ex­pe­ri­ence with Conor’s death to other times my post-mortem be­hav­iour has dis­ap­pointed. I never want to lose a loved one again, but I will, and re­flect­ing helps me re­al­ize that my re­ac­tion to death is a ten­dency I need to work on.

Once my let­ter is sent, I ar­range cof­fee dates, place phone calls and write emails; tack­ling the trans­gres­sions that still feel raw, and ad­dress­ing my most per­sis­tent re­grets, large and small.

To my relief, I dis­cover that most have been for­given, for­got­ten, or un­der­stood. Like John be­fore me, I’ve been hoard­ing trou­bling feel­ings that my so-called vic­tims have long re­leased.

De­cem­ber5,2015,Toronto. A let­ter, a kind and for­giv­ing let­ter, ar­rives from Conor’s mom. She closes it by para­phras­ing a poem from Thich Nhat Hanh:

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