Sorry Mom

Today, it has been one year from my mom’s passing away. It was a terrible battle, and we decided as a family that when she flatlined, we wouldn’t resuscitate her. She’d suffered too much already.

I wasn’t even able to be with her for very long. I was wrapping up my master’s degree and setting up base camp (i.e. my apartment) for when I started working. I was only there for her for a couple of days, and we weren’t even able to talk.

We e-mailed each other pretty much every day of my first 2 years here in Tokyo. You can imagine that after a while it’s pretty much the same old, but we kept in touch all the same. We learned that she had lung cancer in the middle of my second year of my master’s degree, just when I had to get serious with my research.

It broke me. It made me question what the hell am I still doing, dragging my feet and waiting for the proverbial jackpot. I wanted to believe that I would blaze through the rest of my thesis, secure a job, and get back to spend more time with her before the end, and hold on to hope for some miracle.

But, in reality, I was already mourning. When we found out, it was already Stage IV, and my spirit was crushed. I trudged my way through my thesis. I secured one job offer. I backed myself into a corner in so many ways.

They say that you should be careful what you wish for. I always wished for a more interesting life, but didn’t realize that it would be granted to me in spades of tragedy and pain.

When I got back to see her, she didn’t seem happy to see me, but I can’t blame her because she was pumped with painkillers. I wasn’t able to feel any pride for my accomplishments because a) it was half-assed, and b) because sadness had become the predominant emotion for me, for us.

When she passed away, we took a couple of weeks to get affairs in order. Then I flew back here to Tokyo to prepare myself for a life even more alone. I would no longer be able to meet the few friends I had from grad school. I had to leave my siblings and dad at such a painful time. I knew so little despite heading into the workforce. I was in a land that considered me a foreigner but expected me to act like a local (you can’t really play the gaijin card here in Japan if you’re Oriental). And most of all, I had lost one of the handful of people on this planet who loved me, and whom I loved.

I started working at a small IT company. It wasn’t bad. The pay was okay, if under-par. There were very few of us in the office, but I got along okay with everyone (we didn’t do anything together outside of work though). I was somewhat intellectually stimulated.

But I was broken. The wheels looked like they were turning, but the engine was all sorts of messed up. Things got worse at work. I was bored, frustrated, and spent the loneliest Christmas season of my life so far all alone. I had a minor breakdown. I spend Christmas Day curled up in bed, sobbing intermittently. I ate and slept to distract myself from the emptiness that I felt.

I got back to work after the holidays, and my heart was out of it. An earlier version of me, or maybe a less-destabilized version of me, would most likely not have quit his job without something lined up. But I was still broken. I quit at the end of January.

I’ve been looking for a new job ever since, but probably not as hard as I should have been. Because I am still broken. I tilt at windmills, escape into worlds that I make or are made by others, imagine utopias and how I would manage the world or at least my own company if I ever had the chance. I write because I seek comfort from being able to create at least something, and keep track of my views in an unhealthy way — it is therapy, cheap and dirty.

My applications get rejected, my interviews go well but I get rejected anyway for being too philosophical or academic and not realistic enough. I don’t yet have the skills to incarnate my visions. Worse, I don’t have the emotional fortitude or industrial maturity to strike out on my own.

Sorry Mom.

I don’t know what you would have thought about my current predicament, because you would probably have talked me out of quitting before securing my next job.

Sorry for being a bum.

Sorry for being half-assed all these 28.67 years.

Sorry for letting my heart get ahead of my brain, after I had rediscovered that I could still feel, if only badly.

Sorry for not being a better big brother to my siblings.

Sorry for not being a warmer son, and now we can’t talk.

Sorry for not even believing that this will reach you.

Sorry for still being broken.

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