Just over a year ago, my friend Bernie passed away from a rare autoimmune condition. My heart still aches as I remember him.
He was a brash, young freshman when I was a sophomore and yet we ended up rooming together the following year. I still remember like it was yesterday when he came knocking on my door at 1 in the morning on the day of the following year’s dorm room lottery. To make a long story short, Bernie was distraught because of the way the rooming situation with his friends was unfolding for the following year. It looked like Bernie was going to be the odd man out and in need of a roommate. Without giving it much thought, I told Bernie that he could room with me if things didn’t work out rooming-wise with his friends. At that, Bernie’s spirit soared.
The following year, we literally and figuratively made beautiful music together. His Aiwa stereo system doubled as the Next House karaoke system, with friends coming at all hours to grab the mic. More importantly, it was also remarkable to see Bernie mature in faith and in character. The joy of the Lord WAS his strength and he had such a way of encouraging people wherever he went with his smile, laughter, and thoughtfulness.
Singing a duet in the halls of Next House (photo courtesy of Unhyi):
Serenading the masses with “Earth Angel” as part of a campus fundraiser:
It was pleasure to see Bernie take on greater roles of leadership and responsibility for others at MIT Korean Christian Fellowship and at CCFC. He had come such a long way from his brash ways as a freshman.
One of my earliest memories of Bernie is of him sharing at one of our Wednesday night KCF meetings. It was still early in the fall of his freshman year, and he had only recently started attending our weekly meetings. At this particular gathering, he asked to share a few words and to dedicate a song. What he had to share was that, because of the friendships with people in our community of faith, he wanted to become a better man–and that was the chorus line from the song he played for us.
Let me just say, Bernie, I am so proud of the man you became. And I am a better man for having had you share in my life.