“We are no longer looking for a cure.”
I’ve been quiet for a long time about one of the strongest people I know — my dad.
In Hong Kong, my sister texts me that my dad is in the hospital. I didn’t get the details but instead counted down to the days when I’d see him next. The first evening of my return, I visit the hospital and he stands to hug me. His cheeks are hollow, eyes huge.
We talk about the sights I’ve seen, how he’s been counting down and knows the date today: December 19th, the day I fly home. “I lit a lantern for you in Taipei,” I say. “It turned out to be a four-hour round trip. We wanted to go hiking but it was raining, so we came right back.”
“It was worth it,” he says. “I felt better the next day.”
We walk into the TV room without a TV, and I hear from the resident doctor for the first time, about the cancer. It is in his heart. They are no longer concerned about the strokes; the cancer is travelling to his stomach, blood, and brain.
“We want to give you end-of-life care,” the resident doctor says. “To make sure you’re as comfortable as possible.”
“If at all possible,” he says. “I want to continue chemo.”
“The chemo wasn’t working,” she says. “And you’re too weak.”
“I don’t want to give up,” he says.
“Can I see the scans?” I say.
He is adamant and energetic and so much of the person he was, the man his coworkers called the King, the man who solved my problems. I was gone for little more than three months — you cannot tell me that he is now approaching the end of him life, when he is gesturing in front of me.
How is this the image of someone who will soon pass on? Motioning with my balled-up tissues towards the door, I rise. “If it happens,” my mother says, “we’re okay if you watch over us from another world.”
I ask myself whether I should’ve stayed in Vancouver, or flown home early without knowing the entire story. But then my dad would’ve hated that I didn’t finish what I started.