Culture

Hi Bye, Mama!: If death came tomorrow, would you be ready?

by Justine Ocampo // June 11, 2020, 2:52 pm

HI BYE MAMA FEATURE

WARNING: SPOILERS ABOUND.

Five months after COVID-19 first hit our shores, I see how the people around me are wanting their lives to go back to “normal”. While I myself would love to return to the ease and comforts of a pandemic-less life, it’s also led me to wonder whether I’ve all too quickly lost sight of what this season has taught me.

The panic and anxiety I felt at the onset of the coronavirus outbreak seem to have dissipated, and new cases have honestly become just numbers to me. It’s like I’ve become numb to the preciousness of life.

But the fact is that time just keeps moving forward, and death will always await us at the end of life. I was reminded about this when I watched the recently concluded Korean drama series Hi Bye, Mama!. 

Female protagonist Cha Yu-ri (played by Kim Tae-hee) gets a second chance of life. After dying in a car accident and being a ghost for five years, Yu-ri returns from the dead as an actual person (sounds incredulous I know, but stay with me) and the series follows her as she tries to find her place in a world that’s already moved on without her.

Hi Bye, Mama! not only explores the pain of losing someone you love, but also looks at the lingering regrets of those that have passed away. 

Faced with the fragility and fleeting nature of life, it led me to wonder… What kind of regrets would I have if I were to die tomorrow? What memories would I hold on to? Which moments in my life would I hope to change? Which ones would I long to re-live again?

WHAT ARE WE LEAVING BEHIND?

Hi Bye, Mama! begins with a meet-cute between Yu-ri and her husband. As they locked gazes for the first time, we hear a voiceover by Yu-ri saying, “Love approached us at an unexpected moment, pretending to be something ordinary.”

It may not be the first time you hear this, but it’s easy to take our loved ones for granted. Love really does approach us unexpectedly, making it easy to mistake it as normal. We overlook how precious it is to love and be loved by someone.

I ugly-cried when Yu-ri hugged her daughter for the first time after being brought back to life. That moment made me realise how love is often found in small everyday things, like the ability to hug our loved ones and be physically present for each other.

In a flashback, we see Yu-ri’s mother crying alone silently in Yu-ri’s room on what would have been her birthday. Ghost Yu-ri sits beside her mother and she tries to put her arms around her mother to console her.

Yu-ri’s voice narrates: “Perhaps the most beautiful thing we can feel in our lives is telling someone that we love them and thanking someone whom we’re grateful for.”

While reborn Yu-ri struggles to find her place in a world that has moved on without her, we see her befriending her daughter’s step-mother (who is a lonely figure ostracised by the other mothers at the children’s daycare), spending time with her mother, and helping her husband get over his operating theatre trauma (he works as a surgeon at the hospital in which Yu-ri died on the operating table).

Yu-ri made sure that she made her time count, and that whatever she did during her temporal return would help to express her love for them.

We may leave behind a monetary inheritance for our children, or other things like letters or photos to remember us by. But the memories made and the bonds formed in our time together are what will truly remain in our hearts. 

WHAT ARE WE CLINGING ONTO?

I also remember one scene where ghost Yu-ri was sitting in her friend’s restaurant looking longingly at a customer eating spicy rice cakes and fried chicken (and me sitting in front of my laptop, also yearning for a bite).

While I enjoy a good Korean BBQ buffet, the truth is that the material comforts on this earth pale in comparison to the treasures our Father has in store for us in heaven. 

Knowledge of our eternal inheritance should change the way we value our possessions and wealth. 

As Matthew 6:19-20 tells us: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

There are material things in life that we’d probably miss and have a hard time fully letting go of when we’re on our deathbeds. But what do all these mean in light of eternity?

LOOK FORWARD TO ETERNITY

A final thought that came to me from the show was how we can meet our loved ones once again in Heaven. There is that hope of being reunited with those who have believed in Christ because of His promise of eternal life.

The message of salvation is all the more necessary because without it, it could truly mean eternal separation from those we love. This should be a wake-up call for the urgency of our God-given mission – to spread the Gospel and make disciples of Christ!

In reality, we do not get a second shot at life. Just as the temporarily reborn Yu-ri was given a deadline, we know for certain that we will eventually have to face death.

What do we want to see at the end of our lives?

I know some people prefer not to think about death, but knowing the short time we have on earth, shouldn’t we live with the end in mind?

The goal isn’t to live a perfect life with no regrets either. To be honest, I’m not at all confident that I will be able to live my life to its fullest. But I think the point of life isn’t to live with knowing all the answers to life’s questions.

Let’s not wait for death to come knocking before we tie up all our loose ends. Instead, let’s live while looking forward to eternity. To live a life for Christ – treasuring His kingdom and loving others just as He loved us.

How are we currently living?

THINK + TALK

  1. Are there some things you should say or do for your loved ones before it’s too late?
  2. Are there any frayed relationships in your life that need to be worked on?
  3. Would you surrender your own pride and dignity to God, and ask Him to help you in reconciling with others?
About the author

Justine Ocampo

Justine doesn't wear a watch, but she's always just-ine time, just-ine case you were wondering.