“It’s like I’ll take a one-way plane ticket and I’m never coming back,” my father told us tearfully last weekend.
We’ve just found out that his stage II pancreatic cancer metastasized to stage IVB.
There is no stage V.
Throughout the years, I gave comfort and words of assurance to friends who witnessed their mother, father or even siblings battle cancer. But it’s only now that I’ve come to know how it really feels like. It’s different when you see your own dad lose weight and drink glasses of gooey, pale yellow Prosure every day as if his life depended on it (and it does), only to puke it out until he has nothing left to puke. I constantly had to remind myself that the man before me is the same handsome man who topped his Geology board exams at age 20 — a man I am proud to call my father.
It turns out it is so easy to take life’s small hours for granted. In the course of our daily lives, especially when we’ve just started with our career or when we’re reveling at the peak of it, it is almost too easy to get wrapped up in our own little worlds that we fail to realize that all we’ve ever wanted are what we’ve had all along.
Take the time to tell your parents and loved ones how you feel. Kiss them when you can. Hold their hands. Show your appreciation. Apologize when you’re wrong. Stay home on a Friday night and have dinner with them.
Most of all, tell them you love them.
Don’t wait for the moment when you have but a few months or days or hours left to let them know you’re glad they became a part of your life.
Because you’ll never know just when that one-way plane ticket will be booked.
You can only pray that you’ll have the chance to tell them everything you need to say before it’s too late — before they’ve taken flight from a place where they’ll never come back.