There was a strong refusal to believe it, to accept that something so dire could end what I deemed to be perfect. It was astonishing that a seemingly happy and cheerful person could be suffering so deeply. It had to be a hoax. Like a story unfolding in front of my eyes, a work of fiction. The image of him – vibrant and full of cheer, living what seemed to be his dream, working hard to achieve success, perfection and good results, the will he demonstrated to reach whereas most people would have given up – I cannot reconcile it with his end, presented as lonely, unhappy and burdened.
It went against the entire belief I had built up of SHINee being perfect, an exception in the messy world of entertainment. Of SHINee lasting beautifully, always together – unmarred by any scandal. Onew’s unfortunate incident was but a blip that would have been quickly erased, and they would come out together again, wholesome and vibrant as ever. But this, how do they, and I recover from this? How do I reconcile with the idea, that the perfection I imagined has been amputated by underlying sadness, loneliness, and hopelessness? A rare perfection that bloomed in my life has been marred. This is not the SHINee I knew. This is not the SHINee I imagined. And SHINee will never be the same again. They may triumph again – in the public eye – but can an essential part that has disappeared be erased from everyone’s memory? It will always be there, a phantom pain – as he himself wrote – in their hearts, in our hearts. The what ifs and only ifs shall thump forever.
And what of Onew, already dealing with his own issues; of Key, the sassy fashionista; of Minho, the boy seemingly untouched by life’s ugly side, the sun who lights up those around him; and Taemin, the shy youngster who looked up to his hyung? His sister and mother? What guilt and grief would they be going through? If only I could ease it all for them. If only I could protect them from the sorrow within and hysterical attention without. I hope it will only make them stronger and grow even closer as nothing ever did. I hope they will be spared from the spiral of regret that is natural for us to descend into. If only I could ensure that life would be a bed of roses for them henceforth. I hope you all go forward washed of all guilt, blame and regrets. That moving on, you all carry only fond memories of a beloved one, thankful for being part of that beautiful life. For sharing laughter and tears, though it may seem to not have been enough.
As more details emerge, Jonghyun-ah, I ponder about the burdens you had to face – not alone, but lonely from within. That no external adulation and cheer could wipe out. If only you were spared from it all. If only… if only… I can think of a thousand things. Your despair, the dark depths you struggled against for so long. If I could provide you with some magic cure that would light up your heart, your mind, your soul. That you would be at peace, alive, full of life and anticipation. It wouldn’t matter if eventually, you chose to leave the public eye because you would be content with what you are. But where are you now? Assure me that you are at peace, free from all that oppressed you. Tell me you are happy now, Jonghyun-ah.
You not only did well, you excelled. You gave happiness to the world whilst struggling enormously yourself. You exhibited immense courage and will in doing so, for so long. Anyone weaker would have collapsed in the first instance. Thank you, Jonghyun-ah, sharing your beautiful self with us, for showering us with your smiles, that enabled us to smile. Be at peace, Jonghyun-ah. I’m grateful to have been a part of your journey and for knowing you.