Sounds Like Alan


This is a special post, in memory of my cousin Alan. He was suffering from depression and decided to end his life earlier this year at the early age of 22. His brother has been running a blog in memory of this wonderful boy, and I wanted to share his final post.

Dear Alan,

I don’t presume to understand the universe well enough to know if you can see these words, or feel their meaning. But I am typing them anyway, just like I keep talking to you, not knowing if you can hear my words.

Life has been tough since you’ve been gone. The world bears the scar of your departure, a deep gash that does not heal quickly. Mostly, it is filled with sadness, longing for better days, and questions. There is also anger — how could you do this to us? And guilt — if I had only… I should have… Why didn’t I….

I can’t speak for everyone, but for myself, I know that there are other more complicated emotions. There is the sense of drive — the obligation to find purpose in the pain. There is the relief that your suffering is over, and that our worry about those middle of the night calls and texts is fading away. There is the guilt of wanting you back knowing that it is only for the selfish reason of what I got from your presence. There is the gratitude for having had you in my life that tempers the sense of loss. There are the smiles that come, more and more, mixed in between the sobs, from fond remembrances.

I remember trying to explain our relationship to others. They didn’t seem to get it. They compared us to other siblings, and couldn’t see why I felt so much more responsibility for you than most. I didn’t just love you as a brother, and yet you weren’t quite a son. You were my companion — my soulmate. We traveled this life together for 22 years, and when you left, I felt like part of me did, too.

This blog has given me an outlet to work through some of these emotions. I write because I am afraid of forgetting. I write because I want to share you with the world. I write because I don’t know what else to do, what else to hold onto when I know I can’t hold onto you.


These performances we have on video — they are so imperfect. They aren’t even your best performances. I wish we had your Revolutionary etude from your senior recital. I wish we had the flawless transcendent performances that I remember. Even more, I wish I could have a recording somehow of the time you played for me in that practice room at Lawrence before your recital. That I could relive that realization of how far you had come.

I know in the Buddhist tradition, I may not see you again until my next life. But I am sure I will see parts of you before then. You have enriched our lives so much, shone a light upon us that will always be felt. Fleeting glimpses of that light, I am sure, will be seen still, even as its source has gone away.

I wish I could do justice to your soul, but I only ever saw the parts facing me, and even my recollection of those parts is imperfect. I hope these entries have helped others — helped them say good bye to a deeply loved friend — helped them know the beauty of a man who hid it well — helped them understand a single facet of a story about pain and love, regret and release.

If you can see these words, Alan, please know that I still love you, that I will always love you. I wish you would have stuck around. Now, it is left to us to find a way to keep ourselves, and hope that you have found your peace.

Love, Hyung

Alan, you will be missed.

Thank you.