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He was growing weak before my eyes. I knew the ending was near, but admitting it was hard to do. Staring at him as he struggled to breath made my heart crumble and shatter into pieces. Whatever action I made would not have helped him, so I stayed put, watching it all play out.

Mother weeped in the corner of the hospital room, digging herself far into my father's arms as she sought comfort. Her sobs came out breathless, as she had been crying for days. The tears were drying up, but the pain still remained. She too, was not able to do anything.

My father could only hug her. Saying words would not have helped because she did not want to hear. His eyes were tired and the long comfort strokes on mother's back became shorter. He laid his head on hers and sat in silence, often glancing my way or to my brother.

We were all impatient. Sitting in the hospital for days left us with a heavy burden. We wanted this to be all over, but nothing seemed to be happening; although, that could be taken as a good thing.

"Papa," I whispered, reaching out for my grandfather's hands and grasping it tightly. "You have to get better, okay? I don't want to leave here without you."

I was use to the empty response. He breathed heavily as he attempted to reply, but instead he lightly squeezed my hand. I sighed, pulling his hand closer to me and hugging it to my chest.

"You will be alright. Just keep fighting."

Cancer. Cancer is what streamed through my family's blood line. Mother had breast cancer for four years, but won against it and has been well for ten years. Her sister had lung cancer and unfortunately, passed away. Grandma was diagnosed with liver cancer and died before I was born.

Now, Papa, who also has cancer, stared back at me with scared eyes. He was fighting for his life with everything he had, but the doctor insisted he was too weak. My grandfather knew the strange line of different cancers had affected him somehow, and believed it was a dead curse. He refused to think any of this was possible.

It was strange to everyone. Cancer being heredity usually happens to be the same type. Our family was cursed of any sort of cancer, and now we suffer once more.

"Lilla, come here," my dad's brother called from the doorway. He shot a glance to my father, who in return closed his eyes and turned away.

I gently placed my grandfather's hand down, patting it a few times before leaving the room to follow my uncle. He closed the door behind me, leading me over to the vacant waiting room. After sitting me down, he took a deep breath.

"Lilla, there is something you should know."

I frowned. "What is it?"

What could it possibly be this time?

I watched my uncle pull out a piece of paper, unfolding it quickly before handing it to me. "This, this is your grandpa's will. He wrote a message for you in it."

"Why are you looking at his will?" I questioned, a bit of irritation slipping through my voice. "He's not dead."

He nodded. "It was in his pocket when the nurse changed him. Just read the message, ok?"

My eyes maneuvered from my uncle to the crinkled paper. I squinted to read the small lettering. "This is not English," I say aloud. "Why did he write in Korean?"

Although there was no response, I continued with the reading. Papa had given me Korean language lessons since I was young. I was able to read his message slightly easier than others because I was taught the older version, which Papa usually used.

'Love is but a small friend you seek.'

"What does this mean?" I look to my uncle in confusion. "A friend I seek? I don't know anyone."

He sighed. "You do Lilla, but you were just a tiny baby when you met him." His eyes glossed over as the memory came to his mind. "Your grandpa loved that kid."

Shaking my head, I stood up. "What does that even mean? What does this kid have to do with papa dying?!"

"Grandpa wants you to get married, Lil. He wants to see you be well-off before he passes away."

My mind couldn't comprehend the words he was telling me. "What? Marriage? I'm fifteen!"

Uncle's hand went to his forehead as he rubbed his face. "I know, hon, but this is what he wants."

"What did mother say? Surely she didn't agree to this!" I argued, not finding it in myself to stay calm in this situation. It was an atrocious request that would burden me for the rest of my life. I didn't want to believe that was to happen.

He could have requested my success, or future happiness, but marriage? Now?

"Your mom has agreed to it. Since it is her father, she has allowed the marriage."

I threw my hands in the air out of frustration. "This is ridiculous! I haven't even had my first crush yet! I am in highschool, for goodness sake. How can I get married?"

My uncle slightly smiled at my vexation. "Don't worry hon, you know how to cook, clean, look pretty, and still be as sassy as always." He took the paper from me. "Besides, your grandpa is giving you his riches and your husband has a decent job."


"In the end, you will have yourself being financially supported for the rest of your life, and you have a husband at your side. You are good to go for the rest of your life, Lil."

I pouted. "But I don't want any of that now. I want to find a boyfriend like normal people my age."

My uncles laughed, slapping his large hand on my back, causing me to push forward. "You aren't normal in the slightest. You have a crazy family who runs by the old traditional Korean ways, and you fathers side, who are all white people."

I scrunched my nose. "Why does it have to be me? What about Chang-Seong? He is twenty!"

"Your brother is not the most wanted bachelor out there. Girls seem to avoid him," he joked, trying to lift the heavy atmosphere. "Besides, he would have to marry a guy. I'm sure he would prefer a female."

I nodded. "Yes, he would."

"Listen, Lilla. This guy isn't a bad dude. Your grandpa likes him a lot and wants to see you guys together. Please, for grandpa, marry the him."

I didn't answer, but he knew I had given up. We both walked back into the hospital room and sat quietly next to the bed. I grabbed Papa's hand again, but this time, my mind was somewhere else.


가슴은 뛰고 있어
여전히 널 보고 있어
자꾸만 숨이 막혀서

아직은 멀리에서
너를 지켜보고 싶어
내가 또 왜 이러는지

My heart is racing
I’m still looking at you
Because I keep running out of breath

I’m still watching over you
From far away
Why am I being like this?

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