It seems situations like this comes when least expected: Late Friday night in January, my father contacted me saying that my mom caught a type of pneumonia and was rushed to the hospital and was in critical condition. This was the first time my mom was taken into a hospital for emergency reasons.
I found the quickest plane flying from Boston to Tokyo and headed back for 10 days.
So much was going through my mind these couple of days and the most natural way to stay calm for me was to sketch. Here's an early morning sketch waiting for my Plane at Boston airport.
2 connecting flights, 4 trains and 24 hours later, I was at my mothers hospital in Tokyo.
She was conscious and recognized me right away.
I held her hands and she gripped my hands back.
She could not talk though since a large volume of air was being circulated into her lungs since she could no longer breath on her own.
She wore a respirator mask that I recognized right away - It was a mask I designed at a company I used to work before. I also noticed that the size selected for her was too large for her and easily slid down her face. I later asked for a smaller mask which the doctors were able to get from a separate hospital which fit her better.
My dad had been staying at the hospital with my mom sleeping on the floor.
I joined him since there was space for another small camping type bed.
Each day he typed my mom's vital status into his ipad and emailed it out to my uncle who is a doctor, and my brother who lived 3 hours away in Kyoto.
Each evening, my uncle (my mothers younger brother) came to visit for a few hours.
My mother could not talk but was able to nod and also write a little bit on a piece of paper to communicate.
Watching my uncle was impressive: he always smiled, massaged my mother and only talked about things that were positive.
My mom liked to talk.
Growing up, my mom did 90% of the talking in my household of my dad, my brother and I.
It felt very strange that she could not say a word.
Each morning at the hospital, I went to the restaurant in the basement to eat. They had a 'western' style breakfast and a 'Japanese' style breakfast. I tried both but preferred the 'western' style with the thick toast, scrambled eggs, and salad.
10 days with my mom flew by quickly.
Here's my last sketch done of her before heading back to the airport.
The green 'Daruma' doll in the sketch was something I found in her room.
Daruma's are used in Japan when making a wish - the first eye ball is inked in when making a wish and when the wish comes true, the 2nd eye ball is inked in.
This Daruma already had an eyeball so who ever brought it here must have already made a wish.
I truly wished the 2nd eye ball can be inked in.
I said good bye to my Mom and told her I'll be back in the summer to visit her.
Tears came down her eyes and tears came down mine too.
During the 10 days I was here, her vital status improved greatly - but for some reason I felt this was going to be the last time I got to meet her.
I'm not sure why I felt this way.
I had fried oysters from Hiroshima (famous for oysters) at the airport before heading back to the US.