One night when I was a teen I came home from a really hard day’s work where I was underpaid and life seemed so hard and my Mom was like, hey son, I wasn’t feeling up to cooking a real meal but if you like I can make you that marucha soup, you know, that package with the spice thing and it’s noodles, like instant. Ramen? Maruchan? Something like that.
Anyway, I hope you won’t hate me when I tell you that I was such a brat. But I was. Just a young guy, you know, half angry and just plain irritated, and I was like, Mom, really? Why would I want that? Just forget it! And I went to the couch and threw myself down on it like I meant something. Like I deserved anything just because. And I pouted. What a jerk I was.
Six months later, I was crossing the border, leaving my mother. I was in the desert with some guys and I had run out of water. Food? Nothing left. Not even a cracker. We had gotten separated and I was with a smaller group. The coyote, you know, the guy who takes you across, he was going across the border and we were waiting somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Honestly, I have no idea where we were, even now, when I have looked at maps and wondered. How many bones there must be in that desert.
The hours went by and it grew dark and the stars came out. We had no way of knowing if the coyote was coming back. We were just kind of hanging around trying to hope against hope. Some were leaning against their backpacks and dozing off. Others were looking over their provisions and trying to guess about how long they had before they ran out, too.
Anyway this one older guy in the group, he had brought more food and water than me, which was smart, and he was sorry for me, and he kind of sheepishly said hey it’s not much but I have a half of one of those marucha soups in a plastic container and it’s cold I mean I can’t heat it up but you can have it if you want. And I took it and when I started to eat it the tears just rolled down my face and I thought about my mother. I saw her face smiling at me.
She had offered me this same food and I had turned it down impatiently. And I will never forget the look on her face, even though I was too much of a punk to say I was sorry at the time. I had hurt my mother’s feelings and made her feel bad. And I didn’t even know that she was already sick. She didn’t want us to know. But she knew. and I turned her food down. And now at my lowest point, in the desert, too dried up to even go pee, sorry to mention that but that is how dried out I was, and my mom seems to come to me and offer me that same soup I turned down. And I drank it with tears.
That’s when I decided I was going to make it across and stay clean and work hard and send her every spare cent so she could get her medicines and her treatment. And it’s been plenty of marucha soup in the years since then but none ever tasted like that one in the desert.
My poor mom. May she rest in peace. I can never get her back, but now that I have a daughter, I am going to roll up everything I couldn’t do for my mother into a big, golden ball, you know what I mean? I’m just going to roll it all up and give it to my baby girl. Working hard. Being kind. Showing consideration to her and my wife. And I hope that my mom is up in heaven, looking down on us, and I hope I can make her smile.
Sorry, mom! I love you, mom! I’ll see you on the other side.