last sunday, my uncle died of colon cancer. we were close, in a way, because he was my patient too. we sat down numerous times after the diagnosis to talk about his plans and goals. through this dialogue, we became very close friends. we walked a very delicate path. he was looking for answers. i was holding his hand.
when western medicine couldn’t give him a satisfactory answer, he turned to alternative and complementary medicine in china. it is because of our closeness that even if all my training couldn’t help him, he would still take the time to ask me what i thought of the processes he would need to undergo in china.
i answered him honestly. even when i didn’t know the answer or understand the process. he appreciated that.
when things weren’t going so well, i talked less and less with him, as he spent most hours just trying to get strong to go back home. we asked his children to fly to his bedside soonest. when they arrived, he insisted on transferring out of the ICU and greeting them with a happy face.
this must have cost him much energy. his wife became confused. how is it that he was so bad that he could hardly breathe a day ago, now manages to smile today? he must have saved up all this energy for this day, for his sons, for their memories of him later on.
he lasted 7 months after diagnosis. he passed away in a foreign country, but surrounded by his family.
that day he died, i was awakened by a mental and spiritual nudge. there was no reason for me to wake up at 6:35AM. it was like my dreams were bumped off by a subtle tap on the shoulder. wake up, it said. i have a message for you.
so i woke. and i waited. and i listened. and i prayed.
we found out later on that he had passed on at that time. maybe it was his way of saying thank you and goodbye.
i’d like to think that there is a heaven. that he is there now, free from pain. i’d like to think that there are internet terminals there too. and he’s reading my thoughts as i type them. wouldn’t that be great?
right now, i grieve. because i had lost a friend.