Dong Hoon’s mother lamented the imposed schedule dictating when she could visit the hospital and how long she might sit by her son’s side. She was persistently dissatisfied and threatened to go whenever she wished.

„Omma, no one is stopping you from visiting Hyung whenever you like,” Gi Hoon assured her, „but we had to organize a schedule because at times the room was overcrowded, and at other times, no one was there to stay with him.”

„Why are you upset if I want to go outside the assigned times?” she challenged boldly.

„Because it’s a waste of your energy and time. You also need to rest and you always have plenty to do at home, with Jeong Hui…” His voice trailed off uncertainly as he checked what his mother might insist on next.

„Really? I can?” she asked, her eyes piercing into his.

„Yes, you can!”

„Then I’m going to see Dong Hoon! Right now!”

„Ommmma!” Gi Hoon lost his patience. „I don’t have time to drive you, and I don’t want you to struggle with the subway and buses.”

„I’ll manage,” she declared firmly, slipping into her shoes and grabbing a bag of food. „I’m leaving.”


„Ommmma!” Gi Hoon capitulated, imagining her squeezed in the subway during rush hour. „Alright, I’ll call the studio and tell them I’ll be a bit late. I’ll drive you.”

Indeed, all three brothers cared deeply not only for their mother’s health but also for her safety. Now, the youngest had no choice but to yield, as he would otherwise be consumed with worry about her.

He helped his mother into the car and asked her to wait a moment while he made a phone call. He stepped away to a safe distance and dialed his sister-in-law’s number. When she answered, he immediately asked:

„Who’s with Hyung right now?”

„Your elder Hyung,” came the reply. „Why do you ask?”

„Because Mom insists on visiting him outside her shift, and I’ve already got her in the car. I just wanted to make sure Lee Ji An isn’t there.”

„She’s not. She usually sits with him at night. I relieved her this morning, and your brother took over from me, so you’re clear to go,” she confirmed.

„OK. Good. I’ll drive her there now. Thanks! Goodbye!” He hung up and returned to the car.

Traffic in Seoul was increasingly congested, making their journey take much longer.

„I told you it was a bad idea,” Gi Hoon muttered under his breath.

„When you have your own children, maybe you’ll understand me a bit,” his mother overheard and added with a twist of disapproval as she turned to gaze out the window, „Although fathers don’t worry about their children quite as much…”

Finally arriving at the hospital, it was challenging to find parking. Gi Hoon grumbled under his breath but eventually squeezed the car into a spot, and they made their way to Dong Hoon’s room.

Sang Hoon was quite surprised to see them. He gave his younger brother a meaningful look, who could only roll his eyes and spread his hands in helpless resignation.

„Omma!” the eldest brother approached her warmly. „You shouldn’t have troubled yourself at this hour…”

„How can you say it’s unnecessary?” the elderly lady protested. „A mother’s place is by her child’s side, especially when he is sick! You have a daughter, don’t you understand?” She coldly brushed him off and moved closer to her middle son.

Dong Hoon had just awakened, alerted by his mother’s indignant voice. He greeted her with a hoarse voice, „Good morning, omma!”

„Don’t talk!” she scolded. „The doctor says you shouldn’t speak much yet.”

Dong Hoon resigned himself. Speaking was indeed difficult and caused him considerable pain, as his airways were severely burned, and it was still too early for him to speak normally. He was also advised to refrain from talking too much.

Meanwhile, his mother settled into a chair and gently held Dong Hoon’s hand. Gi Hoon informed them that he was leaving and left the task of driving his mother back to his elder brother. Sang Hoon, somewhat flustered, sat on the sofa and nervously began eating the lunch their mother had brought. Sounds of Seoul’s rush hour filtered into the room. Dong Hoon closed his eyes and fell asleep again. Sleep continued to be a true blessing for him, a respite from the past and the challenges ahead, shortening the wait for Ji An, whom he missed more each day.

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