My excuse for not updating my blog: Moving back from Korea has been chaotic. Now onto regular updates.
On September 12 (oh look, exactly one month ago today!), only two days before Eric & I headed away from Korea and back towards North America, a few of the ladies I’d gotten to know really well at the church took us both out to lunch. Rose was one of them, and the other two were Korean ladies named (English names) Jane and Leah. (When I first met Leah she hadn’t picked an English name for herself and asked if I could recommend one. I suggested Leah, after my good college friend. When she asked me what the name meant I blanked for a second, then replied with “Good friend.”)
They drove us out to this fancy buffet place with dishes from all over Asia. It was pretty awesome. I basically filled up on sashimi and Eric, surprised that I’d never told them all about my semester abroad in Japan, filled them all in on my past Asian experiences. He took a bunch of photos for us too.
How cute is the face Rose is making at me in that middle picture?? So cute!! As we were going to the restaurant I caught Rose turning away from me to blink and brush away tears. It made my insides hurt to think of leaving her…
Jane and Leah were particularly interested in when Eric & I expected to have our own child, and as a gift they gave me a traditional Korean wallet that was suppose to signify “good fortune” in our future (more specifically good fortune for having children). Heh, oh Korean ladies and the things they talk about.
The very next day, Friday September 13, was our very last day at the church. As we’d originally predicted, the day was pretty anticlimactic. I don’t think most people at the church even had any idea that we were leaving. I met up with Rose & Leah at lunch though, and gave Rose a rose as a mini goodbye gift. I also delivered one of my drawings from the Coffee Mission art exhibit to her that she’d purchased. So sweet of her to buy one! I love this series of photos that Eric took after lunch.
I told Rose that I’d be leaving the church that evening at 5:00, and really wanted to be sure I got to say goodbye before we left. I lingered packing up and clearing out my stuff, and by 5:10 Rose still hadn’t shown up. Eric & I started searching the church, but the place was mostly dark and empty. Around 5:25 I was getting really upset and on the verge of tears, afraid I’d never see Rose again. Eric assured me we would not leave until we found her. Searching through some notes I found Leah’s phone number! I called her, asking if she knew anything. While I was talking with Leah I suddenly heard Eric in the hallway yelling and the sound of running footsteps. Rose burst into the room and grabbed me in a tight hug, crying and talking in a mixture of Chinese and Korean, every once in a while adding “Elizabeth. I love you.” in English. Eric stood to the side, wiping away his own tears.
After perhaps 15 minutes we finally said goodbye with promises to keep in touch, and Eric & I shuffled out the front door of the church and Rose said she was on her way home. Right before we left the church grounds though Leah called me back, asking if we could wait so she could come give us something. We sat on a bench by the parking lot, talking about Rose and trying not to feel sad. Before Leah had a chance to show up Rose came running out of the church again and basically pushed Eric off the bench so that she could sit next to me. Eric just laughed and took some more photos.
Leah soon showed up with her daughter and a case of seaweed as a goodbye gift for Eric (Eric had mentioned at lunch that day that he really loved the seaweed that you eat with rice in Korea). Then, as her gift to me, Leah asked if I liked hanbok, Korean traditional dress. She told me that she owned two and, if I wanted, would love to give me her old one. Eric took the seaweed home and I went with Rose, Leah, and Leah’s daughter to Leah’s apartment to retrieve the hanbok.
Leah’s Mom had made the hanbok by hand, back before Leah was married (her other hanbok she got for her wedding). I was amazed that she wanted to give it to me. Leah’s mom helped me put it on, and I wore it in the car back to my apartment so I could show Eric.
At my apartment I hugged both Rose & Leah one last time. There were tears again, and I found it difficult not to join in. Rose then told me one of the most touching things I think I’ve ever heard: She said that when she first met me, she hadn’t liked me at all. Having been raised in China her whole life, she had a stereotype in her mind of rich and arrogant Americans who didn’t care for anyone besides themselves. Rose told me that slowly getting to know me over the past 2 1/2 months had changed her opinion of Americans.
I miss her so much.