MY RING: SANAE / Ayaka Noda

Please imagine that you are a chief Shinkansen attendant, and your team members are different every single time. Today, you see that one person in your team is wearing a ring, which they are not allowed to wear in your company except for engagement rings. She seems very young to be married. In addition to that, she is wearing a ring on her right ring finger. “It must be an accessory,” you think. You should point it out as her boss. “Are you married? If not, could you put off your ring, please? It’s against our company policies.”

“Um…, I’m sorry. This is a memento of my mom.”

Unexpected. Silence for a while. 

You might say, “I’m so sorry for asking that.” Then, “It’s ok,” she says. 

Sigh, you seem to be working eight more hours with her today, feeling guilty. You might glance at her again and think, “What a pitiful girl….”

Hello, readers. “The pitiful girl” seems to be me.

I lost my mom when I was nineteen years old, almost two years ago. When I say that, many people think that I had lived with a wan and weak mother for many years. However, I would like to mention that my mom was the opposite type of person. She was born in 1964 in Hokkaido. She said that she had been very active since her childhood. For example, since her house was in a very rural area, she walked 5km to her school every day. It seemed natural for my mom to be the anchor of a relay at sports festivals from the first grade of elementary school to the third grade of high school. Then, the active girl met my dad when she was fifteen years old at middle school. They started dating when they turned nineteen years old and married seven years later. After that, I was born in 1999.

We spent eighteen years together happily, just as a normal family. In the spring of 2018, I passed the exam for Sophia University and started a life in Tokyo, far away from my parents living in Sapporo.

Two months later, those lives were suddenly over. 

In early June, my mom felt pain around her stomach and went to the hospital. She was told that she had rectal cancer, stage Ⅳ. 

My mom strongly asked my dad not to tell me this because it had only been two months since I entered the university in Tokyo. She wanted me to enjoy upcoming events, such as my nineteenth birthday in July and volunteering in Cambodia in August. Therefore, on August 28th, one day after I came back from Cambodia, I learned the fact.     

Two months later, 

   ONLY two months later,

       On November 9th, 2018, she passed away.  

I want to tell you and my boss my true “stories” since then.

All of a sudden, my life was changed by a devil. I took a break from university and stayed home every day. I could barely eat and fell down many times because of malnutrition. I remember that I survived for three days only with PET bottled Pocari Sweat. I was struggling with aphonia every night since I cried too much. I went to a mental hospital and could not sleep without medicine. I did not want to meet anyone, and I even ignored any gentle messages from my friends. Once I went outside, everyone, everything seemed too bright for me being in sorrow. I did not want to live in the world which continued even though it lost my mom.      

I truly experienced these things, and I guess what you expected about my life after my mom’s death is like that. However, these situations did not last forever.

This is because I tried to change my life, not by a devil but by myself. I was asking myself, “Is my mom happy to see me being depressed because of her death?” She was struggling mentally and physically in this world, and why does she have to be sad and worried about me from heaven? In addition to that, I realized that I blamed her indirectly to think, “If only she didn’t die, I could live happily,” “If only she didn’t die, I could enjoy life as a normal freshman,” and “If only…” I thought it was the worst thing I could do for my beautiful, kind, and amazing mom.

At the same time, I found a very striking one-woman-show titled “I’m glad my mom died” by an American actress, Jennette McCurdy. I had been a big fan of her for more than ten years, but I did not know that she lost her mom when she was nineteen years old, the same age as me. “I’m glad my mom died.” I did not know the content since the show was not available in Japan. However, I felt that I knew what she meant. I thought, “This will be the way I live my life.”

From then, I tried to experience things I would never have done if my mom had not passed away. For example, from a philosophical perspective, I tried to live more passionately. I learned how important every single day is from my mom’s sudden death. Therefore, I decided not to hesitate to do what I would like to do, from small things, such as raising my hand in class and making a serious decision about my future. Then, as one of my action plans, I asked my dad to let me study abroad in the US for three months. If my mom did not die, I would never have studied abroad during my freshman year. Therefore, I felt that I would be able to take one step forward to affirm my mom’s death if I could experience new things, improve my English, and meet new people. In fact, I have done all of them. My English level was the B2 (Intermediate) level on the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages), and it improved to C2 (the most advanced) level at the end of the course. I am proud of myself since I believe that this is a great achievement as a student in the English department. I met many people who have different backgrounds and had a wonderful time with them. I will never forget the days I traveled around the US with new friends and saw indescribably beautiful scenery or talked about political problems between Korea and Japan with Korean girls, and promised that our friendship is forever no matter what happened between our countries. For me, the world became smaller than before. What is more, I fell in love with a respectful person with who I would like to live with the rest of my life. He is always by my side, understanding my sorrow. Therefore, I retrieved the days I feel truly happy and laugh out loud. We live together happily in Tokyo now. What I experienced and the people I met in the US are irreplaceable treasures for me. Do you remember? I was not able to experience such wonderful things if my mom had not passed away. 

If my mom had not died, I would never have been able to be an ambitious, powerful woman surrounded by loved ones. Therefore, I would like you and my boss to remember one thing. When you apologized to the pitiful girl, she, I, said, “It’s ok.”

“It’s ok. I’m glad my mom died.”

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