When a loved one's dying, don't try to be a doctor

This is my biggest regret.

When Mom told me about an 8cm tumor on Dad’s spinal cord, I automatically assumed there would be a way out of this nightmare.

Why be pessimistic this time? Dad had already undergone surgeries and chemo to fend off his cancer. The spinal tumor seemed worse, but some of the best doctors in the country were looking into the case.

After a week of discussions, the doctors concluded a dissection was the most reasonable solution. I was scared, but I tried my best not to doubt whatever the doctors had to say.

Even after days of googling, I didn’t feel entitled to make suggestions for my father’s critical condition. Like rooting for Korea in World Cup, I just crossed my fingers and put my trust in the hospital’s procedures.

Because I was too focused on the disease, I missed so many chances to have a real conversation with him. I should have asked about his view on death, what he wished to leave behind, and what he wanted to do before the big surgery. Instead, I pushed down my feelings to be rational about the situation.

Looking back, I talked to my father like he was my patient. Even when Dad’s condition was clearly getting worse every single day, I prayed for a miracle to stop his pain. I was good at denying reality.

Dad’s last days deserved more respect than that of a dying patient. I emptied the urine, massaged his legs, and fed him pills but never asked him how he wanted to spend the last days of his life.

When Dad showed clear signs of dying, I didn’t budge to stop a doctor from injecting additional drugs. I was staring at the scene like I was watching a play. I didn’t protect Dad’s dignity in the last moments.

No human would want to die as a patient. I held his cold hands to finally face my failure to be his son when he needed one.