Someday We Will Meet Again
“언젠가는 우리 다시 만나리”
Morrow Willis died in 2015 after a battle with cancer. He was a 2011 ETA in Mokpo, Jeollanam-do. The photo re-printed here is one of many he contributed to Infusion.
There isn’t much to do in Mokpo, so on weekends we would often find ourselves at the Mokpo Dancing Fountain near “new downtown.” The show was more or less the same every time: there would be about five songs with choreographed fountain movements and colors.
We each had favorites but there was unanimous consent that the best one was a ballad by Shin Moon Hee (“Moony”). The finale of the song is particularly epic. It’s kind of like if you combined the endings of “The Star Spangled Banner” and Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” (seriously, YouTube it).
One Friday night, Morrow got really into it. He stood up at the end and, somewhere between comical histrionics and genuine inspiration, performed the final chorus. As the Koreans around us looked on in confusion, he arched his back, clenched his fists, opened his mouth to the night sky, and dramatically lip-synced the finale.
I often look back on our time together and I cry but, when the person you lost was Morrow, it’s impossible not to look back and laugh as well.
“Don’t mess with the best.” For Morrow and myself, this was the dictum that steered the better portion of our winter break. The statement seems narcissistic, immature, and idiotic—and we would completely agree. But we didn’t care. It was our life force that winter, our guiding compass during a season of uncertainties and dilemmas.
This phrase convinced Morrow to grow mutton chops. It justified every one of our 3 a.m. fried chicken deliveries. It was the first, middle, and final points of all our arguments with the other housemates. It was the impetus for every action. Of course at times it drove us to our physiological and psychological limits, but there was no stopping us. Ever. Because the best are those who live life to the fullest.
This was what Morrow taught me and embodied in his life. This is the lesson that is manifested in the lives of those he impacted. So here’s to you Morrow, the best of all. Cheers brother.
(Samuel Izumi Han)
“Christiana, look up.”
Morrow chuckles- a short-second breath which escapes his mouth when he smiles. He puts his camera in his lap and locks eyes on David who is sharing a story about one of his students.
I glance at the camera, knowing I won’t be able to ‘inspect-then-delete’ the undoubtedly not-Facebook-ready photo. But Morrow wasn’t looking for the model shot. He looked for the moment shot. The shot that created a memory: for him, for the group.
And when he took your photo, you didn’t care if it made it to Facebook. That moment, with those people, that’s what mattered. The time he spent with you mattered to him. And the time that mattered to you was the time with him.
Three years after Morrow and I were roommates in Jungwon University and teaching buddies in Mokpo, I had the privilege of flying down to Austin, Texas to visit him and the rest of our “Mokpo Mafia.” Morrow was the same wonderful guy, spending the whole day to show me around his favorite Austin haunts in spite of his chemo-sickness.
Seeing him again brought back memories of our final dinner in Mokpo, when Morrow asked us to share annoying yet endearing traits about one another. We went around the table, six of us revealing secret annoyances in turn. Not intending to shame our friends, we shared only those uniquely annoying quirks which won us over – those which defined us as imperfect individuals, loved despite, and even for, our shortcomings.
Morrow’s camera, that omnipresent, endearing annoyance, transformed my experience of Korea from one of vague recollections to one brimming with vivid memories. More than a camera, it was us he had strapped around his neck as he traveled to every corner of Korea.
That was my dear Morrow. Thoughtful and loving, a true friend with an eye for the present and a mind for the future. I’ve not forgotten the trait of mine he found so endearingly annoying… my inability to tell short stories. Well pal, I hope that this long story does you justice. Thank you for the good times, 형 , and for sharing the photos that help me remember them.
Henry Lyford, Samuel Izumi Han, Christiana Bay, and Daniel Lambert were all 2011-2012 ETAs.
 hyeong, older brother