“It’s a brain aneurysm.”
Jihye clenched her jaw and nervously darted her eyes back and forth, avoiding the doctor’s despondent gaze. A brain aneurysm? It sounds horrible. She looked down at her knees and tried to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Headaches, pounding, head-splitting pains, migraines…
Her mother sat beside her in silence. “What’s that?” she whispered.
Her doctor glanced at the reports one more time and nodded in confirmation. “A brain aneurysm… There’s a vessel in your brain that’s filling with blood. Sometimes it ruptures, and sometimes it doesn’t. It could be fatal for some people.”
“Am I going to be okay?”
Mrs. Kim placed a hand on her daughter’s thigh. “Dr. Oh, is my daughter going to live?” She scoffed skeptically. “Are you sure? Tell me something that makes sense. Why would my healthy Jihye suddenly be suffering from a fatal illness?”
Dr. Oh sighed heavily and looked up. “I’m sorry.”
Jihye stared at the man quietly. “Surgery… How about surgery?”
“I’m sorry, Jihye. It’s very dangerous to operate on. Your chances of surviving are really slim—the surgery itself could leave you brain-dead. There’s nothing we can do to prevent it. Some people can live with it and in some cases, they can’t.” He held onto the scans and shook his head. “It’s in a hard position for us to operate on… I can’t consent to surgery…”
“What are we going to do?”
“Painkillers,” Dr. Oh said. “They’ll ease the pain until…” He frowned uncomfortably. In all his years of being a doctor, breaking the truth to his patients was always heart-wrenching.
“Can you tell me how long I have?”
“It’s not certain. It could be six months. Those six months may turn into four months; it may turn into a year. It depends on the person. Don’t do anything intense, and don’t do anything that makes you stressed out.”
Jihye eyed the cup of pens that sat on the desk next to her doctor’s nameplate. She was in a daze. “What’s going to happen to me?” she mumbled.
“Are you telling my daughter to sit still until she dies?!”
Jihye sat on a bench next to her sobbing mother and thought about her best friend, Hanbin. “Mom…what are we going to do about Hanbin?”
Mrs. Kim angrily slapped her daughter’s arm. “You idiot! You’re dying…and he’s all you can think about?”
A tear slid down her cheek as she nodded. “Mom… Honestly speaking, Hanbin is my soul mate,” Jihye whimpered. “He’s always wanted to know what colors looked like.” Her lips trembled as she looked down at her lap. “He’s always wondered who he would end up with. He’s always wanted to know what the ocean looked like, and why everyone thought it was so breathtaking. Hanbin doesn’t even know what he looks like…he’s unsure of his own appearance.”
Mrs. Kim looked at her daughter with a painful expression. Her throat burned and her heart pounded out of her chest. She was horrified—how could this be? How could she outlive her own child? “Hanbin?”
Jihye nodded and turned away. “Hanbin’s my love; we’re supposed to be together. He’s supposed to see the world in color, but now…I don’t think I can promise him that anymore.”
My name is Jihye, Kim Jihye—and I’m dying. I know this is not how you’d expect most people to introduce themselves, but my time on this beautiful planet is limited.
My favorite color is blue and I consider myself lucky for knowing what that looks like. I live in an unfortunate world where one only begins to see colors when they meet their soul mate—and not everyone gets to escape the blacks and the grays. There’s a twist to it, though, since fate is not that forgiving. Despite knowing who you will spend the rest of your life with, that person may not know who you are to them. It may take days, weeks, months, years…or even a lifetime. It is all up to the person who sees color to let the other know.
My soul mate’s name is Hanbin. He’s my best friend, and we’ve known each other since we were 4 years old. We’re 22 now, and he still has yet to truly see the world.
There are two types of people: those who tell, and those who don’t. Many of us choose to tell the other person the moment we start seeing colors. It makes everything faster, I guess. I want Hanbin to know that we’re lovers; I want him to know that I love him and that he makes me happy. I want him to know that I’m grateful for everything he’s ever done for me and that I don’t hate him for all the times we fought and disagreed.
I want him to know that I will always look out for him and have his back, just as he does for me.
You must be wondering—why don’t you just tell him?
Because if I told Hanbin, he would feel obligated to love me; he would feel bad and stick by my side, even if he didn’t care to.
Those who tell are impatient; they don’t want to wait. They don’t want to sit idly and watch their lover love someone else.
Those who don’t tell are full of will; they can take on whatever fate throws at them. They can easily understand that eventually, they will be happy.
I’m not going to tell Hanbin a thing.
With a few words from my doctor, my life became a race against time, but I want Hanbin to realize on his own that we’re more than friends, even if I may not live to see it.