My Great Regret: I Didn’t Even Have a Chance to Say, “Goodbye”


Yesterday at 7:15 AM, on a frigid and dreary morning, I woke up to the ringing of my cellphone.

Who the heck is calling me this early? On a Sunday?

The caller ID showed my aunt’s name.

Oh shoot! This can’t be good.


“Hey Alex, this is your aunt.”

“How are you doing?”

*pause* “Did you know grandpa died?”


“Yeah, he passed away 15 minutes ago.”

At this point, I did not know what to do or what to say. I mustered, “At least he was not on chemotherapy. So he did not die in pain.”

My Plan Was Dashed into a Million Pieces

Just 2 weeks ago, I found out that my grandfather had stage 4 pancreatic cancer (which is a really advanced stage). The doctors said he had 3 more months to live. When my father first found out about the cancer, he asked me if grandpa should get chemotherapy. With chemotherapy, he could live for up to a year. I said that it was not a good idea because chemotherapy has lots of side effects. It would just prolong the agony. So my grandfather was hook up to tubes that drip-fed painkillers instead.

During May, I will have two weeks off. So originally, I planned to fly out to Taiwan to be with him during his last moments. But with that phone call, my plan was dashed into a million pieces.

I didn’t even get a chance to say, “goodbye.”

I didn’t cry. I didn’t get angry. I prayed to God and asked Him to take care of my grandpa. Now, I can only hope that he is in a better place.

I blame medical school. Why does it have to take so much of my time? I don’t even want to be a doctor anymore. If I knew that he was going to die so suddenly, I would have gladly taken a leave of absence (possibly for good), and spent it with him.

My only consolation is that I made an effort to speak to him every week over Skype. I wanted him to know that I cared.

When Was the Last Time You Reached Out to Someone You Love?

So I ask you to put down your work and pick up the phone. Call someone you love and say, “Hi.” You may never get the opportunity again. Death comes like a thief in the night. You will never know with it will come for your loved ones … or even you.

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