I’ll Be Right There

This passage from Kyung-sook Shin’s novel I’ll Be Right There has got me reflecting on my own life today; I’ve had these thoughts so many times over the past few years. (This paragraph is from near the end of the book, although it doesn’t really spoil anything, in case you care about that sort of thing.)

“I’ll never forget what I saw that day. I think that’s why I never married. The memory has faded, but it never goes away. That’s why I am not going to tell you two to get over the things you have gone through. You should think about them and think about them and think about them some more. Think about them until you can’t think anymore. Don’t stop questioning the unjust and puzzling. Maybe if I had gotten there by the date written in her letter, I could have saved her. But then again, maybe her death was already planned, and all she wanted was for me to find her. Human beings are imperfect. We are complicated, indefinable by any wise saying or moral. The guilt, wondering what I’d done wrong, will follow me my whole life like my own shadow. The more you love someone, the stronger that feeling is. But if we cannot despair over the things we’ve lost, then what does it all mean?”

 (Adding to the odd feelings, I and the person this reminded me of had both read Shin’s other novel available in English translation–Please Look After Mom, also wonderful–shortly before her passing.)