In June of 1990, great news arrived early morning when Mrs. Lee announced a new addition to the family.
"It's so surreal," Mrs. Lee said.
Suho, at 11, promised that he would be the best brother to his younger sibling.
During those times, the family was already settled with Suho in middle school and his college financially secured.
They have a business that’s thriving on the first floor of their house. Haneul Lee was busy with his schedule and often stayed in Seoul.
Everything was going perfect until, in September of 1990, the news shocked the entire family.
Mrs. Lee was in her second term with their baby, still working and trying to balance being a mom, a spouse, and a businesswoman.
Haneul’s manager called her out of the blue asking her to go to Seoul immediately.
Mrs. Lee wasn’t the type who would abandon everything all of a sudden.
The next thing Suho knew was his aunt, Mrs. Lee’s younger sister, moved to their house and his mom packed a few clothes to Seoul.
He didn’t understand what was happening nor did anyone try to explain it to him. He was in the last year of middle school and had been looking forward to junior high where he’ll be officially called a teen.
The immediate change in his family, although bothered him, was nothing he really wanted to dive into.
Reasoning out that if it was utterly serious then his parents should have talked it out with him.
It was a month after when autumn foliage had swept the entire landscape that Suho was finally summoned to Seoul.
His aunt was quiet the entire three-hour drive from Daegu to Seoul.
His father’s manager even picked them up personally, handing Suho a new plane his father bought from his recent trip.
He was excited to finally see his father and mother after one month and having to ditch class at that. But he was not prepared for what he saw when he arrived in Seoul.
“Your father has pancreatic cancer and he’s at stage 4,” his mother, Mrs. Lee, said upon his arrival at the hospital where his father was confined.
"It spread out so fast and they weren’t able to detect it before it blew up. They said there’s less than 50% of him surviving.”
“But we have decided to do everything for him. Even if it’s fighting for the 10% chance for his survival,” Suho’s mom whimpered.
At that point, he had to be admitted, go through chemotherapy, and several surgeries to add years to his life.
“We won’t give in without a fight,” his mom added.
At that moment, Suho felt his knees weakened, his heart stopped, and water-filled his eyes.
He clutched at his chest trying to pull out the heavyweight on his chest, fighting hard to keep himself from crying. “A man doesn’t cry,” was what his old man said and he wanted to stand by it.
But the reality of his father’s sickness hit him on the face real hard, he can barely breathe.
And that there was nothing he could do, nor nothing that he could change.
Mrs. Lee stayed with the doctor while Suho left with his aunt to see his dad.
Haneul was placed in a special chamber in the Intensive Care Unit where only a handful of people were allowed to enter.
Suho watched behind the huge glass window that showed the entirety of his father’s room. He held onto his aunt’s hands, clutching it tightly as he stepped closer to the room.
At the sight of his father lying lifeless on bed and tubes connected from everywhere, Suho felt his world caving in.
Tears started to fall, his knees weakened, and fell right on the floor.
He placed his head in between his knees and allowed all his welled-up emotions flow freely.
Nothing mattered at that point for him.
For he can’t bear to see the superhero of his life, lying hopeless and helpless on the hospital bed.
“Here, drink this.” a soft voice interrupted him in his sorrow.
Suho looked up, beaming in front of him was a young girl with an angelic face and a smile handing him one banana milk. Suho took the milk and she dashed off in a blink of an eye.
He felt a wave of peace for that brief moment.
“Suho, let’s go to your dad.” his aunt suggested.
As he stood up, he saw a herd of doctors and nurses running towards the ICU. Everyone was clamoring around his dad.
Suho’s heart sank, his stomach churned.
The next thing Suho knew, he was lying on the hospital bed with his mom seated next to him.
He studied her face.
Despite the dark circles under her eyes and dry skin, he can still see her charm and beauty. His eyes led to the window where he could see a long line of trees in the garden next to a body of water.
No longer were the leaves green.
They have transformed to oranges and browns.
When the wind blew, some of the leaves flew away with it, as if letting nature take its course. The wind didn’t seem to mind even if the trees went bare leaving no trace of life behind.
It was a truth he can’t run from but would rather live in a lie that’ll shelter his heart.
It was the last time Suho saw his father.
In November, they had to fly him to America to gamble every chance they have to add years to his life.
Suho was left in the care of his aunt.
And his friends pitched in to offer him company every so often.
Haneul Lee was brought back home, worse than before.
They told him to expect the worst but still hope for the best.
He didn’t understand any of what they said.
The only thing he knew was winter had enveloped his heart leaving it frozen and dull.
In the middle of the harsh winter, Murphy's Law took effect.
Suho was called to the principal's office, Mr. Kang. He was a self-devout fan of his father who claimed to have mentored him in his younger years.
And was utterly devastated at the news of the legend contracting cancer at such a young age. Haneul Lee was only 36 years old.
Suho stepped in, his face emotionless but palms clutched to a fist.
He knew what was coming but couldn’t bear to hear it from anyone.
Mr. Kang stood next to him, held his shoulders, and pulled him in his arms crying.
That was all it took for Suho to finally confirm what could have been his worst nightmare.
And he can’t take it.
For him, it was just a lie and he was dreaming.
HIS FATHER WAS STILL ALIVE.
Amidst the slippery white blanket of snow on the street, Suho pedaled his bicycle twice as hard in his life, running away from Mr. Kang, from the news, and all the lies he tried to hold on to.
He screeched to a halt in front of their house, skidding at the pavement, and ran inside the dark empty house.
His eyes blinded with tears, he locked himself inside his father’s office, clutching at the first basketball jersey his father wore, memorabilia.
“No, No... it’s not true,” whispering between tears.
His aunt and friends came over knocking at the door.
They could hear his whimper but no one would answer back. At lunchtime, they left food outside the door where all that they could hear was a video playing inside.
Behind the closed doors, Suho created a world of his own away from the harsh reality of the outside world.
He was on a marathon spree of all the videos his father took ever since he was born.
His soothing voice behind the video made him believe he’s still there and was only sleeping somewhere like he always does.
He replayed the video where he and his father made dozens of paper planes with the names of the places he visited while he was gone, hanging them in the ceiling.
All those enough to calm down his weary soul shutting up everything else.
Later that afternoon, the news broke off to the rest of the country.
The entire village flooded their house with sympathy, leaving flowers and lighting candles next to their house.
It was late at night when Suho finally came out of the room, all pale and aghast.
His friends and aunt had been waiting for him outside, two of them already sleeping on the couch. He saw the news on TV of fans and reporters standing outside of the mourning site.
Even the pile of flowers in front of their house. His face blanks but his eyes full of despair and longing. He went straight to the hospital as expected from the chief mourner.
At the funeral site, Suho stood next to his mom, wearing a black suit with a hemp armband, acknowledging everyone who paid tribute.
Oblivious to the vast crowd that was waiting to pay homage to his father.
For Suho, none of those mattered.
After a few weeks, he knew the famous basketball legend will be forgotten but not for the family he has left behind.
On his grave, Suho promised to continue his legacy, even without his mom's approval.
The world stopped at that moment.
When everyone was gone, all that was left was Mrs. Lee and Suho.
He looked intently at his mom for the first time since the last time he saw his dad in the hospital.
With an 8-month old baby in her stomach, Suho going to middle school, business to handle plus her husband passing away, Mrs. Lee was at her breaking point.
At the height of winter, January 1991 turned out to be the coldest month in Daegu with as little sunshine to brighten up the day. It was a perfect excuse for Suho to crop up inside their house, watching his father’s video day and night nonstop. On some occasions, he would play the cassette tape his father would send him on his international trips. Listening to his father’s voice made Suho believe that he was on a trip somewhere taking his time to come home. Mrs. Lee on the other hand had no choice but to pick herself up again. Not known to Suho, she had collapsed on multiple occasions at the hospital due to stress and fatigue, putting the baby at risk. Her husband begged her to take care of herself and the baby as it would be his final gift for her. And she doesn’t have the heart to break that promise despite how challenging things were without her spouse. She couldn’t dissuade Suho either from playing cassette tape or videos even if it tore her heart apart because she kn
January of 1996 Daegu, South Korea It had been almost a year since Joo Ho left. Kwanghee was the only left to ensure that Suho kept his part of the bargain. For that one entire year, Suho worked double to finally make his dream come true. With his friend Kwanghee' 's coaxing, he can finally fulfill his promise to his dad on his grave. Taking that route meant working day in and out to develop his muscles, flexibility, and stamina. Transforming from the slinky kid to a well-built soon-to-be athlete. Suho ever thought it would require so much hard work that he often went home dead tired. Thud. The door and walls shook, pictures and paintings tilted with every bang as if a giant was passing by. "Suho, wake up, it's already noon," her mother Ji Hyo Kwang, better known as Mrs. Lee, called out, pounding against his door. "You are going to be late again!" Suho can see his mother in his mind with her curly hair and grumpy face. Wearing her usual ensemble -- gray blouse a
It was the first day of January 1996, the sky was brighter, and the nights were longer. The cloud loomed over the clear sky, and the sun was shining behind the clouds. Suho's feeling a different surge of energy he couldn't explain. Almost as if a dream is about to come true. He cycled, resembling a raging bull through the crowd of students, turning away from the deserted streets to the busy road. Cycling alone makes you a perfect target for onlookers waiting to beat the hell out of you. Finally, when the coast was clear, he slowed down. His bicycle screeched to a halt at the sight of a large moving van parked outside the house. Boxes were scattered on the road blocking any vehicle from passing through the one-way street. The men in the moving van's uniform carried the containers to the vacant house once occupied by Suho's friend, Joo ho. And he wondered if he could befriend the new occupants too. "Oppa, Oppa," a cute voice from a little girl cut through the stillnes
March 1996 Daegu, South Korea "Where's your brother?" Mrs. Lee fixed her gaze on Naeun, who was seated across the table. She shrugged her shoulders in response, concentrating on her favorite pancake in her hand. Mrs. Lee surveyed the second floor, from the kitchen to the living room in one sweep, with her brown almond-shaped eyes, looking for the suspect. Marching in full force, her brown skirt trailing behind her, she unbolted the door to Suho's room, which was surprisingly empty and clean. No trace of a human being existed. "Where could he be?" crossing her arms, brows wrinkled. Suho, Mrs. Lee noticed, had been acting weird for the last few weeks. "Is he possessed? Should I bring him to a shaman?" Sprinting towards the antic cabinet in the living room looking for a pamphlet. "No. Maybe the gods have heard my plea." Mrs. Lee looked up, spread her arms to the heavens, clasping her hands in sincere gratitude. Heaven knows how long she'd prayed for her son to snap out
Unlike Suho and the other students, Hana would sit in silence and try to get the best seat in the house -- middle, in front of the teacher -- which kids avoid. During breaks, when students chatter, play or escape to a convenience store, the new girl buried herself in the books. Her voice is precious as a diamond, a rare commodity. Her effort to distance herself from others was futile. As boys would hover around her like bees trying to score nectar from the most beautiful flower in the garden. At night when the classes were over, she'd often walk the streets from the center to her house. Suho would pedal his bicycle tortoise-like, matching her pace. Sometimes she'd take the bus, and he'd follow the bus until the next bus stop. Days passed into weeks. The excitement and agitation crept through every vein in Suho's body. Downcasted at the thought of not seeing Hana every day to melodramatic anticipation of the new school year's promise. Suho wasn't after the academic com
"I am not fine. I know I said I was, but I'm not." Suho stared at the glass windowpane next to his study table. On his windowsill was an array of potted ornamental plants from his mom's garden. From Aloe Vera, Peace Lily, Lavender, and English Ivy, which Mrs. Lee explained how they cleansed the air he breathed. But none of those were creating any difference for him at that moment. All framed with a lace curtain, no one will guess the room was his. And no one could tell what he's going through either. That wasn't cool at all. Of all the people who could see me that day, why has it to be her? Cursing in between breaths. Across the street, he has a clear view of his neighbor's window, covered with a cerulean curtain. At night, the bright light in the room gave a silhouette of the enigmatic figure, dancing under the moonlight in the soothing song of The Swan Lake. In the morning, the curtains were drawn, and the owner grooved to the hit music of the 90s. Ace of Spade, MJ,
"Naeun, Naeun," he barked in between the door gap. "Come here for a second." “Look at these pictures, unnie! This was Oppa when he was my age.” Nauen giggled as they browsed through old albums in the living room. “Oh! This is in Luneta Park, I’ve been there multiple times.” “Really?” Mrs. Lee asked. “Suho liked going to that park.” “Look, imo! This is me!” showing the picture of a small behind their family picture, holding a toy plane. “So, you’re the little girl Suho was talking about when he was younger. He kept looking for you whenever we went there.” “Me too. Cause I wanted to give him back his toy. It seems precious to him.” “It is. His father gave that to him.” “What a small world.” Hana left around 10 in the evening, carrying several Tupperware of food that Mrs. Lee packed for her. Suho watched the window across his room lit up. That’s when he knew she was home safe and sound. Filled with inspiration, he took out his sketchbook and began drawing what transpired that evening. Sketching Hana in full details as she smiled, played with Naeun
Twin Flames Chapter 11 - A glimpse
“Look at these pictures, unnie! This was Oppa when he was my age.” Nauen giggled as they browsed through old albums in the living room. “Oh! This is in Luneta Park, I’ve been there multiple times.” “Really?” Mrs. Lee asked. “Suho liked going to that park.” “Look, imo! This is me!” showing the picture of a small behind their family picture, holding a toy plane. “So, you’re the little girl Suho was talking about when he was younger. He kept looking for you whenever we went there.” “Me too. Cause I wanted to give him back his toy. It seems precious to him.” “It is. His father gave that to him.” “What a small world.” Hana left around 10 in the evening, carrying several Tupperware of food that Mrs. Lee packed for her. Suho watched the window across his room lit up. That’s when he knew she was home safe and sound. Filled with inspiration, he took out his sketchbook and began drawing what transpired that evening. Sketching Hana in full details as she smiled, played with Naeun