Hi. How are ya?

You turn 58 today, right? Or was it 57?
今日、58歳になるんだろう? それとも、57歳?

Right, right, 57. You're 57 today, not 58. My bad.

You know, a lot has happened in our lives together.

The day I was born was the day we started our life together as mother and son.

You undoubtedly remember it as the most important day of your entire life.

Since I know you'll read this letter, too: Sorry, Papa. Better luck next time.
あなたもこの手紙を読むのは信じているから: ごめんね、パパ。この次は頑張ってね!

After I was born, and throughout my life, we've moved around quite a bit.

When I tell people about it, they often ask, "Is your dad in the military or something?"

In a way, you were thankful for that, at least in the beginning.

It gave you the freedom to raise your family in whatever way you wanted to, to live your life how you wanted to live it.

Moving around, of course, has its pros and cons. We had the opportunity to go to some amazing places and meet some amazing people. However, at one point or another, we were separated from them.

We were often lonely and depressed because of the path we chose to follow.

We always had each other, but we know that that's not enough. We need companions, close friends, people we can confide in and turn to for help. We need someone that we can be ourselves with, someone who shares common interests, someone that will listen intently to whatever crazy thing pops into our heads.

We need someone that can understand us in ways our family can't.

There was a time when I didn't have people like that in my life. I felt alone, even while surrounded by my family.

I had no hopes, no dreams. My future was not my own to decide, I felt, and so I drifted and floated with the flow of life. I was lost, yet felt I was being guided in the right direction. Heaven's invisible hand guided you, and you guided me.

I felt empty.

Although I accepted such a life, at the same time, I felt that emptiness. The space left inside me was being filled with things that felt belonged there, yet still left me feeling empty. I felt a need to take control, yet taking control seemed impossible, dangerous, wrong.

There was a time when I fantasized about doing incredible, superhuman things. My dreams were born from a desire to take control, yet still do the right thing. I wanted to satisfy myself, and I wanted to please you.

After all, you're my mom. What son doesn't want to see his mom happy after seeing her so sad for so long?

Then, by chance, or perhaps not, something changed. The flow of my life was disturbed. I adapted. In order to make you happy, I started helping other people every day. I met others who likewise helped people. They were different from me, but I was used to that. I've always been a bit different.

Slowly, their lives and my own intertwined and overlapped. I spent hours everyday in a small room with them. We shared jokes and shared conversation. Although we were different, more and more I realized how similar we were. I could talk to them in ways I couldn't talk to you.

I was happy everyday because everyday I was with my friends. Some noticed that I was always happy and asked me how I could always be so happy. I never told them the truth, partially because I still unsure about the answer myself.

I was content with that life. I wasn't lost anymore. I was with friends half the day, and with family the other half. A balance had been struck. A part of me was in control and the other was happily guided by you. I felt like I was finally growing up, moving forward.

Then we moved,
and they were gone,
and I was empty again.

That emptiness quickly filled with anger and resentment. I wasn't just angry at you, but still, I resented you.

I purposefully distanced myself from you. You felt that distance. When you cried, I thought, “Keep crying.” Your guidance took away my happiness, and so I boiled my angry heart in your tears even while remaining cold to you.

I didn't want to go back to the life I had before. I didn't want to be lost anymore. Distancing myself from you gave me the ability to take control of my life and future. Step by step, without acknowledging it myself, I began to take a different path from you. I no longer emptied myself for you or anybody else. I filled my heart with my own dreams and ambitions.

Then at last, I told you what I was going to do.

I traveled alone to meet a girl. I took an interest in a language and culture completely foreign to you. I pursued my ambitions with a passion you thought I was nearly incapable of possessing. My dreams of my future gave me strength to move on my own.

Over the last couple of years, a lot has changed. I've gone to school, met new friends, made new connections. I've continued studying Japanese. I've gone to Japan. I'm helping people everyday.

Old wounds have healed. I'm not angry anymore. In fact, I am grateful. Everything good that has happened to me recently was only possible because I'm here with you. If I hadn't followed you, I couldn't have pursued this dream.

In spite of everything that has happened and everything that I've done to you, you've supported me. You've supported me in my pursuit of a future that will take me away from you. You've done what is painful to you because you know it will make me happy. You've shown me a mother's love.

Yet, what have I done?
You've been my mother,
but have I been your son?

While I've let go of the past, I feel that you are still burdened by me, by the distance I showed to you. Everyday, my future in a faraway place draws closer. You feel that. Everyday, you feel that distance between you and me widen. The emptiness that I felt, you feel now. You're scared.
僕は過去を水に流したけれど、過去の距離のせいで、母さんはまだ悲しいと僕は信じる。毎日、僕の遠いところに行く未来はだんだん近 づけている。母さんはそれを感じる。毎日、その距離が広がっていることを感じる。僕が感じた空白は、今、母さんの心に感じる。母さんは怖いんだ。

I'm sorry. Our paths in life have split, or rather, I've split them. I'm sorry for what I've done to you. We are going to be separated one day. I'm sorry I can't be close to you forever. I will be far away, going to amazing places and meeting amazing people. I'm sorry I've brought you pain. I will be building my own life and my own future, one in which we may rarely see each other. I'm sorry that I won't be there to comfort you when I'm gone.
ごめん。僕たちの道は別々になっている。というか、僕は別々にしている。母さんのそばにいることをできなく てごめん。僕は遠い国にいて、すごいところに行ったり、面白い人たちに出会ったりする。母さんを傷つけてごめん。僕は母さんから離れて、あまり会えない生 活と未来を作る。いないとき、母さんを慰められなくて、ごめん。

You may be wondering why I've written this letter to you both in our mother tongue and a foreign one. Perhaps its presence has made you feel uncomfortable. Perhaps, with every page you turn, you have felt that I have grown into a person with a life, a personality, a consciousness so different from your own that you can no longer understand me.
「なぜマイカはこの手紙を英語と日本語で書いたのだろうか?」と考えている かもしれない。この外国語は嫌な感じにさせるかもしれない。各ページをめくったら、知らない生活をしたり、性格があったりする知らない人のように成長し て、もう僕の気持ちが分からなくなってしまったかもしれない。

Perhaps it's hard to even recognize me as your son anymore. You know, the son that sat on the couch with you and stroked your hair? The son that pressed his hand on your forehead to take away your headaches? When reading this letter, can you picture me as the same son that has lived with you for the last 26 years of your life? Is the voice you hear now as you read these words the same voice you've grown accustomed to hearing coming from me? Or does it sound like someone else, an imposter, a fake, a lie?
僕は本当に母さんの息子だと信じ られないかもしれない。母さんと一緒にソファに座って、母さんの髪を優しくなでた息子。手で母さんの額を押し付けて、頭痛を治した息子。この手紙を読んだ ら、26年間と一緒に暮らした息子と、今の僕は同じ息子を想像がつけるのだろう?読みながら、今の聞こえる声と慣れている僕から出る声と同じなのだろう?  それとも、一生、全然知らない人の声しかを聞こえないのだろう?

If you can no longer recognize me anymore, then it is because I have changed. I've changed in more ways than even I know. However, there is one thing that has not changed. There is one thing that will never change no matter where I go, no matter who I'm with. No matter what dreams I pursue, no matter what future I seek. No matter what language I speak, I will never forget these words: Mom,
もし僕をもう知らなかったら、理由は僕を変わったんだ。僕もこの変身が完全に分からない。しかし、変わらな かったことは1つある。どこでも行って、誰とでもいても、全然変わらないことは1つあるんだよ。どんな夢を叶えても、どんな未来を探し求めても。どんな言 語を話しても、この言葉を一生忘れられないんだ。母さん、

I love you

That will never change. Never.

You have given me everything. There is nothing I can do to repay the debt I owe you. All I can do is say thank you. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for being my mom.

Happy Birthday!