Flowers For My Life: Episode 15
I was a little hesitant to watch the last two episodes of Flowers For My Life, because I felt I had to prepare myself adequately for the sadness. Also, I wasn’t sure I was ready to say goodbye to such a wonderful, superlative drama. But I needn’t have worried; I’ve seen the end of the series, and (no Episode 16 spoilers here) I can say it doesn’t sink into tragedy or melodrama. In fact, it takes an upturn.
I cried, of course, but it was a satisfying cry, and not out of sadness but poignance. To me, Episode 15 was as close to perfectly satisfying as you can get, with the exception of Episode 16 which was even better.
(Random) SONG OF THE DAY
Mot (못) – “Heaven Song.” Mot is not a band everyone will like. They’re a little weird, a little eclectic, a little off the beaten path. But Mot might be just the thing for people who like moody, dissonant music. This is one of their less-weird songs. [ Download ]
EPISODE 15 RECAP
Ho Sang’s anger at Hana finally subsides and he invites her along to Seoul to visit his mother. Hana happily goes along, although she worries that his mother won’t like her. But once there, she’s put at ease at the warm reception.
They go to a cafe because Ho Sang can’t go home for fear of running into anyone who knew him before he officially “died.” His mother says he’ll be able to visit home as much as he wants once she moves — she’s planning to go where no one knows them so Ho Sang can come by more often. Hearing that Hana already knows all about Ho Sang’s situation, his mother breathes in relief, “Thank you. I know he’s my son, but it’s not easy to date someone like him knowing his entire story.”
Ho Sang assures his mother not to worry because he’s happy — he’s finally found work he enjoys, he has Hana, and her parents treat him well. However, Ho Sang falters and has to excuse himself when his mother expresses relief over having her own son take care of her funeral — what a relief that he’ll be there to guide her to her next life. He thinks: “Mom, I’m sorry, I don’t think I can prepare your funeral. But I’ll go first and meet you when you arrive, so you’re not lonely or scared when you leave this earth.”
Ho Sang’s mother asks Hana if she wants to marry Ho Sang, and Hana answers yes. Taking her hand, Ho Sang’s mother asks her to take good care of Ho Sang: “My son doesn’t have anything, but he’s a kind person. He might not be able to treat you to luxury, be he won’t pain your heart. So please, even in times of difficulty, don’t turn your back on him and be by his side.” Hana promises.
Ho Sang asks his mother to treat Hana well if she ever comes to visit alone, without him. His mother can’t see why Hana would ever visit without Ho Sang, and Ho Sang says, “Still, Hana will come to see you” and asks her to treat her well. His mother says of course, she’d be happy to, as long as Hana doesn’t find it uncomfortable.
They meet Ho Sang’s older brothers for lunch, and the mood is convivial as his brothers regale Hana with tales of Ho Sang’s misspent youth. Ho Sang’s embarrassed and tries to stop them, but Hana enjoys hearing the stories. (Once in middle school, he liked a girl who worked in a video store, and accidentally returned the wrong tape — an X-rated video he’d borrowed from a friend — and got into so much trouble.) His mom tells them to stop before they make Ho Sang cry, which embarrasses him further; his mother counters, “You’re a famous crybaby.”
Back in Chun Cheon, Eun Tak tries to cheer up Pil Gu’s depression over Madam Gong’s recent death. Pil Gu despondently tells Eun Tak he’d only ever given his heart to two women — Eun Tak’s mother and Madam Gong — but both women have passed on before him. Eun Tak insists on having a drink with his father, and they share alcohol and sing songs in Madam Gong’s empty tearoom.
Hana brings up the subject of marriage with her mother. She wants to marry Ho Sang, not because she feels sorry for him but because she wants to be happy: “Marriage is for people who love each other. While he’s with us, I want to have the wedding, go on a honeymoon, do it all. We don’t know how much time we have, but I want to live like we’ll be together for the rest of our lives, since my heart will be with him for the rest of mine.” After Ho Sang dies, if she isn’t his wife, she won’t have the right to prepare his memorial services, or to take care of his family. Her mother is vehemently opposed, and says that is completely out of the question. It’s hard enough for her parents to watch her now.
Ho Sang overhears the conversation, but when Hana’s mother apologizes for hurting his feelings, he tells her that he understands, and that he isn’t hurt.
Ho Sang tells Hana, rather out of the blue, “To me, you’re the most valuable person in the world. You said I should become more like you, so I’m going to say start saying these cheesy things everyday.” Looking at her happy face, he tells her another one: “Yoon Ho Sang only loves Na Hana.” (윤호상은 나하나 만 사랑한다.)
And just as I’m tearing up, I laugh out loud, because Ho Sang stops short and comments on the same thing I’m laughing at. Remember how I said “Na Hana” means “me alone” or “only me”? His declaration of love also means: “I, Yoon Ho Sang, only love myself.”
Ho Sang: “You only love me too, right?”
Ho Sang: “Then we have nothing more to ask for, right?”
The rival funeral business owners arrive (uninvited) to have coffee with Hana’s father and Pil Gu. They feel like traitors going to a different tearoom, so they have nowhere else to go. They sit and reminisce about their times with Madam Gong, and though it’s a teeny scene, I appreciate the sentiment that Madam Gong is bringing these two opposing parties together in her death — the message being that people don’t stop being important after they die.
Ho Sang wants to prepare funeral clothes for his mother as one last son-ly duty, and asks Eun Tak if the old saying is true that if you prepare the funeral clothes for your parents, they’ll die soon. Eun Tak mentions another proverb that says if you prepare them in a leap year, they’re supposed to live a long life. Ho Sang deflates when Eun Tak says the next leap year is next year, knowing he won’t be around then.
Eun Tak tells him, “You can do it next year,” and Ho Sang answers, “Remind me again next year. You know how forgetful I am… Or maybe you can do it instead. It’s fine whether the son or his friend handles it. If my mom lives a long time thanks to you, I’ll treat you later.”
Thinking of her mother’s words, Hana asks Nam Kyung if she’s ever regretted being engaged to her now-deceased fiance, and Nam Kyung truthfully answers yes. His family worried a lot about her, and she felt she was a burden to them. His mother had a hard time meeting her because whenever she saw Nam Kyung, she’d want to see her son, so Nam Kyung stopped herself from seeing them even though she wanted to.
Hana’s disappointed, not having considered that she’d become a burden as Ho Sang’s widow. She’d wanted to convince everyone to the marriage, but hearing Nam Kyung now, she thinks she’ll have to give up that idea. Nam Kyung admits she didn’t speak to her own mother for six months after her mother said it was a relief that Nam Kyung hadn’t actually married him. “But I think I can understand my mother now. I was lost in Kang Jae’s past, but she was thinking of my future.”
But, she admits to Hana conspiratorially, she’s never gone to a wedding since. She’d see other women wearing wedding dresses and feel jealous and angry. Nam Kyung: “Isn’t it childish?” Hana: “I can understand perfectly.”
And so, the two ladies stand in front of a bridal shop and jeer playfully, “It’s not pretty at all. Look at that design. I’m never wearing anything like that! Bah!”
A customer arrives with an unusual request — a spirit wedding. That is to say, her older sister and boyfriend had wanted to be married, but because of fierce parental opposition, they left home and were living together. Before they could be married, they died together in an accident, and now the younger sister would like to fulfill her sister’s wish (despite both sets of parents being against a spirit wedding). Hana remarks how sad it is that two people who couldn’t be married in real life would be denied a spirit wedding, but Ho Sang says: “I don’t see it that way. They might not have had the ceremony, but they lived loving each other. Isn’t that enough?” Thinking of her own life, Hana answers, “Yes, that’s enough.”
Apparently spirit weddings are sometimes carried out by Buddhist priests or shamans, but there are no particular rules, and Ho Sang, Eun Tak, and Hana are up to the task.
Although Ho Sang isn’t bothered, Hana feels a little strange preparing someone else’s wedding: “It’s like I’m hungry, but I have to set someone else’s dinner table.” Ho Sang: “In a phrase, you’ve gotten hungrier, right?” Ho Sang apologizes for not being able to give her what she wants, but tells her, “Still, I’m truly happy and thankful you’d still want to marry a guy like me… But let’s marry in the next lifetime. When we can grow old and gray together, till we’re tired of each other, let’s marry then.”
Hana assures her mother she’s given up the idea of marrying Ho Sang, which is a relief to her mother. Her mother wonders what kind of fate Hana and Ho Sang have, and Hana answers that it’s a good fate, like her parents have together. Hana says fate is something you’re supposed to accumulate; having built up their connection thus far, in their next lifetimes, their fate will allow them to be together for a long, long time.
Mom: “Aren’t you scared of him leaving?”
Hana: “I am. But I have people around me. If it weren’t for Ho Sang, I wouldn�t have realized what a strong support you and Dad are, or how comforting friends can be. But I know that now. Ho Sang has left me with so much, I know I won’t ever be lonely.”
Hana’s mother muses that Hana’s become mature, but strangely, it hurts her. “You don’t just mature for nothing. You have to struggle and hurt to mature.” It’s the idea that wisdom comes at a price, and although I’m not a mother, I have a feeling this is something all mothers can identify with.
At the spirit wedding, Hana and Ho Sang take the symbolic place of the bride and groom, with Eun Tak presiding. To the wedding party, it seems as though they’re merely filling in to play a role, but it means much more to Hana and Ho Sang. Although they’re unable to have a wedding themselves, they know they are being married in spirit alongside the spirit couple.
Ho Sang even cracks a few jokes, and Eun Tak asks, “The groom is laughing quite a lot. Are you that happy to be getting married?” Ho Sang quips, “Yes, I’m so happy I’m going crazy. The bride is beautiful.”
In the absence of a real honeymoon, Eun Tak sends the couple around the block for a honeymoon walk. Hana urges Ho Sang to walk with more energy, and they playfully march along. Hana thinks: “That day, our hearts were married. Without a wedding dress or congratulations, only the two of us knew. People watching us march through the street might have thought we were playing around, but it was our eternal promise to walk along into each other’s hearts.”
Although Ho Sang’s pains are growing worse, he continues to act happy around the family, and the family continues to treat him as normal. He works, cleans, and even gets scolded by Hana’s father, just as he did before. “I wanted to slip into sadness, but it’s not an easy task to preserve daily joys from inside sorrow.”
However, one night, he has a nightmare — and it really is kind of creepy. Whoever came up with the sequence does a wonderful job combining lighting, music, and filming to create an eerie ambiance.
Ho Sang finds himself in a dim corridor, lit only by the eerie glow of funeral lanterns. Running up and down the hallway, he shouts for help and bangs on the walls. There’s no way out, no doors, and nowhere to go.
Ho Sang sees the writing and the black ribbons on the funeral lanterns, and utters the chilling line, “Do I have to go now? It’s not time yet.”
He yells out, “Save me! Help! Someone save me!” and hears Hana’s echoey voice calling out his name…
…bringing him back to consciousness. Ho Sang sits up in relief and tells Hana, “Thank you for waking me.”