The Student Movement

Last Word

Knock Knock

Gio Lee

Photo by Gio Lee

Knock Knock.

A small pause. Gio, calm down.

Knock Knock.

The bed creaks. Whew.

With hands shaking and legs trembling, I creep through the door. There—Grandma’s lying on the bed. She jumps after seeing me in delight.
After a moment of silence, I finally speak.

“Hey Grandma. I’m back. How are you? I feel like it’s been forever since I’ve been with you. ”

Unable to see Grandma after four years, I pour out topic after topic. Even though Grandma is able to listen to my words, she stutters—unable to speak. As I was about to start a conversation with her, loud footsteps approach the room.

“Hello, I forgot to ask you to sign in for us before you came into your grandmother’s room.” The nurse waits as I write down information on a sheet with other names and dates on it as well. She thanks me and says, “Your grandma has been doing much better. She still can’t quite talk and move a lot, but she’s been in gleeful spirits after hearing you were coming from the U.S.”

She finally leaves and it’s just me and my grandma again. Grandma tries hard to write something on a post-it-note but her fingers begin to stiffen from writing too much. I would never know if this was my last moment with her. So I tried to reminisce about all the times we had together, like when she took care of me in Korea while my parents were at work, or how she taught me Korean in the U.S. to always remember our culture, or the stories she told about my dad’s childhood.

Grandma was just like my mom.
She taught me my first words.
She taught me my first steps.
She taught me how to love.

Tears trickle down my face and splash on my grandma’s hand as I keep remembering how this could be our last time.

“I’m sorry,” I say. She nods her head with disagreement as tears drip from her face knowing this could be our last encounter.

After two hours pass, the nurse comes back into the room saying, “Sorry, I’m going to need to change your grandmother’s IV.” That’s when I realize it’s time to go. I pray for Grandma before I leave and raise my body to leave the room.

Just as I was about to open the door, my grandma grasps my hand. I mutter, “Grandma, is something wrong?”

She shakes her head and pushes herself on me to say something.

She creeps near me to lean in while her mouth stutters to say the last words I ever heard from her, “Saranghae.” (I love you).

Tears stream down my face as I hug Grandma one last time. People stare as I carry my body and cover my face with my two drenched hands. Soon enough, I arrive at the subway station to go home.

The subway announcement comes on saying, “Seoul Station. Seoul Station.” I leave my seat, get off, and trudge along the sidewalk to arrive home. I head straight to my bed, drowning thoughts about Grandma in my sleep.

​I wake up the next day with an alarm near the telephone.

Ring Ring.

“We are sorry to tell you that Mrs. Lee has just passed away; we will still have her at the hospital and it would be great if you could come as soon as possible.”

The call stays on with a repetitive beep.

I quickly put on my dad’s slippers, and run in my pajamas to the subway station to take me to the hospital. Once I arrive, I catch my breath and walk slowly trying to remain calm.

Knock Knock.

A small pause. Gio, calm down.

Knock Knock.

The bed is still.

Just a long silence.


The Student Movement is the official student newspaper of Andrews University. Opinions expressed in the Student Movement are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors, Andrews University or the Seventh-day Adventist church.