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Looking for Don – Evocations

March 23, 2012

One of my dearest friends wrote and called me several times in the course of reading Looking for Don: A Meditation. She had been concerned about my bottomless, persistent grief. She is an artist, and her responses moved me so deeply that, with her permission, I want to share with you readers.

# 1

Dearest Dai Sil,

I just want to tell you that I started on Looking For Don. Trouble is I just can’t find the right words to express my feelings.  Maybe I could say he is up there like the shimmering rays of sun radiating down on you, and us, too? Don already reached 하늘 (sky) and you are still on 땅 (earth) yet the love between the two of you forever binds you even across the greatest chasm, never to separate the 어깨동무 (shoulder friends) and soul mates!

Your love and incredible pain made Looking For Don a profound work of art!

Looking For Don is a masterpiece!

Thank you for letting us share the innermost feelings of your heart.

Love, W


Dear Dai Sil

I did not want your book to end. So I could not read it for a few days but today I finished it. Dai Sil, it is the greatest love story, ever! There are so many unforgettable passages.

Even as he lay in the ICU, Don was concerned about you. Have you eaten?

There is also the story about the special cap you had brought for him from Korea, the one with the natural persimmon dye. He loved it so much that he wouldn’t take it off except for sleeping. Then one day the wind carried it off, that precious cap he treasured so much. Too weak to chase it, all he could do was just watch helplessly as it rolled farther and farther away until . . . .

There are lighter moments such as your returning home from shopping and claiming that you had saved so much money by buying something on sale. Don humors you with chuckles–ha ha.

Your landscapes, even those of Don’s beautiful Iowan corn fields, though they are very beautiful works of art, because they are similar in style to others, I am not as powerfully moved by them as the portraits of Don. His portraits are very exceptional. Intensely powerful! You see, when I see them, I feel the hot tears and the excruciating passion with which you created them, and the effort you put in to capture the very soul of your beloved Don. His mischievous grin, the exact color of his eyes, and the mustache that must have tickled you no end . . . . The force of your ardor in those portraits almost brings Don back to life. When the two of you looked out of Don’s window that first winter and saw the ice particles floating on the river, you were reminded of Monet’s Water Lilies. That’s when you lovers gave birth to ice lilies. I can feel the thrill you must have felt that day, standing by the window with Don–à la 어깨동무(shoulder friends)–looking down at the mighty and freezing Hudson River.

Yes, Looking For Don is definitely the greatest and truest love story.

Love, W


Hi Dai Sil,

I feel but can’t express how I feel about Looking For Don. You touched on something very close to redefining the meaning of death as humans understand it. I feel your relentless quest may have led you to a dimension beyond normal (mortal’s) experiences. You may have made it possible for Don to find his steps half way back on that final bridge in order to enable you to meet him at the midpoint where you could almost touch each other.

As much as you wanted Don to be with you to the end of your days, he had his dilemma. Even as he was ready (after endless suffering) to take the ultimate cure for his failing body, he was too torn to take that option because he knew how that would have affected you. Oh, how he loved you, his wife, best friend and soul mate–the one he loved more than his own flesh and blood!

You are one special pair of lovers!

Love, W


Dear Dai Sil,

Hi, again. It looks beautiful and sunny but the temperature is only in the upper 30’s.

Yes, all your portraits of Don have very special power and intensity. Every ounce of your love, devotion, sweat and blood are visible in each of your brush strokes. And there are countless in each of your many, many paintings of your soul mate.

Professor P . . .  [was] one of my most respected and beloved teachers, ever. He invited us to his house once and showed us some of his prized souvenirs from China such as many original Shang and Zhou bronze vessels and mirrors, for example. They were breathless treasures encrusted with rich, turquoise patina.

But there was something far more special. He had traveled to many temples and caves in all part of China in search of art works of the past. Of course much of that related to Buddhist paintings and sculptures as Buddhism was first introduced from India and its art changed gradually through time in style.

During one of his visits to a temple somewhere (I forgot where), the head monk of that temple had presented him with a very special gift: a bound, hand-calligraphed religious text on rice paper.

The color of the ink was brownish. The monk had written the entire text in his own blood!!!

Now, after over half a century later, I get exactly the same feeling when I think of your brush strokes on Don’s paintings.

Love, W


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