Many of our warmest moments recently have been spent getting to know better Dragon’s friends and hearing about their time with Dragon. These teenagers have had to deal with losing someone their same age at an early time in their lives, and in a sudden, shocking way. It’s a lot for anyone to deal with, mortality and the fragility of life. Many of these friends spoke at Dragon’s funeral or memorial. Their eulogies were heartwarming and uplifting, shining moments in an otherwise terrible time. We sometimes characterize teenagers as a quiet, unresponsive group, known more for their one word answers (“How was school today?” “Fine.”) than their open sharing.  But these young men and women spoke from the hearts, and their emotions spoke volumes.  Their grief and honesty brought out their eloquence.

Many of Dragon’s friends also contributed to a memory book.  They drew pictures, sent photos, and wrote letters to Dragon.  They shared memories of when they first met Dragon, of days with Dragon at camp, of biology class and waterpolo workouts.  When we go to Forest Lawn to visit Dragon’s grave, we bring the memory book with us and read these letters to Dragon. For comfort, I have turned to these memories many times.

Other friends have reached out to us in the months following, via text or email or Instagram.  The stories start, “Dear Mr. and Mrs. Kim… My family and I were out of town in August when we heard, so I wasn’t able to attend the funeral, but I wanted to share with you how I knew your son.” Or, “I was going through my computer to make space and found some photos from awhile back that I took of Dragon…”  I cherish each of these precious notes and photos.  They are puzzle pieces of a son I thought I knew everything about, treasures shared by friends who loved him.  If you’ve been tempted to write one, please do.  Daniel and I hang on every word.

Over the next few blogs, I’ll share a few of the letters, all of which I’ve received permission from the author to share.  Some make me laugh, some make me cry.  Some make me lament the life Dragon should have lead, some make me realize what a wonderful life Dragon already lived. They all tell as much about the writer as they do about my son.

Here is a text from Dragon’s friend and classmate at OCSA and Newsong church, Kara Lee.

Dear Mrs. Kim,

Entering the logo contest was such an honor to be apart of, and the fact that I even made it to the top 10 was so exciting for me, so thanks for that opportunity! I was going through my computer to make space and found some photos from awhile back that I took of Dragon and Xandra, and I though you might like to have them. I don’t know if you know, but Dragon was in my math class and we became friends that way. We had a friendship connection due to the fact that we were both asian and we both had a great senses of humor ????. Our friendship was based off of jokes, mainly about my horrible Korean, his love life, or my sad math skills. Even with my discontent for math, I loved going to class because Dragon was always there to laugh at my stupid jokes. Not only was he funny and sarcastic with me, he was also my teacher. He is so good at math and I am so thankful for him. I remember sometimes we would come to class and he’d be finishing his math homework from last night that I slaved over for hours, and he’d get a perfect score and I was no match for his greatness. He was the shining star in our math class, I’m pretty sure he even taught our teacher a few things.

I think about these memories and you guys very often. Your son was an inspiration to many people. He taught me how to have a kind heart, how to lend a hand to people in need, and how to be a friend. I miss joking around with him and running into him on the stairs (literally running into him), but I know that he’s safe and happy and I know that I’ll see him again soon! My love goes to your family and I hope you know that you raised an amazing, talented, driven, funny son that has touched so many lives, mine included. I’m excited to see your family at Newsong, and hope to grow closer with you guys!

All my love, Kara