Translated and Edited by: ynlucca.
-san: A polite suffix, but not excessively formal.
-kun: A common suffix among friends and younger people.
-chan: A common suffix among people you’re close with, mostly used for feminine nicknames and girls, since it’s cutesy and childlike.
-senpai: A common suffix and noun used to address or refer to one’s older or more senior colleagues in a school, workplace, dojo, or sports club.
-sensei: A suffix and noun that literally means teacher.
It’s been a really long time since the three of us ate dinner together…
I, Kaoru Aizawa, smiled as my children chatted over the feast served on the table.
I wish I’d done this earlier. If I had, would he…?
The time Tatsumi said had enough played vividly in my head. After that man left home, I worked until my hands were numb to raise the two of them. I thought they understood that since whenever I’d apologize, Tatsumi himself would say “… It’s fine.”
His words may have blinded me, and I was unaware of the feelings he put into them… That day I was so busy I only got home at midnight, and it stayed like that for a long while.
I didn’t think I’d be able to participate in parents’ day at his school, and as I thought that, I opened the front door and stepped into the living room.
“I’m home. Are you still up?”
Tatsumi doesn’t look well. Come to think of it, we haven’t been together that much these past few days. I wonder if something’s wrong.
“… Tatsumi, about parents’ day, mom won’t—”
—be able to go because of work, I’m sorry — I tried to apologize, but…
“… You’re not coming this time either, are you?”
I was shocked. Those words were not the okay’s he always gave me. In hindsight, I realize that what he said actually meant “I give up.”
For not noticing the obvious, I can’t say I’m worthy of being called a mother. I couldn’t even look into his eyes as the gaping chasm between us grew larger.
—And I ran away from him.
I turned my head away as he walked off, unable to even bear his gaze. I was a fool. If only I’d hugged him that day, if only I’d chosen him over my work…
After that exchange, I lost all sense of how to interact with him and plunged myself into work just to escape any sort of confrontation. Then, when he was in eighth grade, I learned Tatsumi was being bullied.
And it was already too late. The bullying had grown to a point where it couldn’t be shrugged off. And the icing on the cake is that I only learned about it from a teacher at school.
I didn’t notice any changes in Tatsumi because I wasn’t looking at him, and that made me ashamed of myself.
… It’s happening again.
I’m not trying to understand him, just as I didn’t that day. It’s too late to drown in regrets, for we cannot recover the time we lost.
So from now on, I’ll cherish the time I still have with him. I’ll properly look into his eyes and try to understand him. With that in mind, I decided to change my job. My supervisor tried to stop me, but I had already made up my mind.
From this day forth, I’ll face Tatsumi properly.
It took a lot of time to find a new job and wrap up the old one, but I managed to make it in time for Tatsumi’s entrance ceremony at school. We were even able to celebrate it over dinner.
Considering everything that happened so far, it was only a small step… However, it was just the beginning. From now on, I’ll face him little by little.
Ah, I’ve never been able to send off my children properly…
After dinner, I saw he was about to leave through the front door, and thought back to the past. I’d always been the first one to leave the house, and the last one to come back. All I ever said back then was “I’m sorry.”
I haven’t said these motherly words to the two of them in years, so let’s start from there. This is the first step to properly face everything I’ve neglected as a mother, and I’ll do so from now on.
With that flurry of feelings in my mind, I heard Tatsumi say “I’m off.”
“Mhm, have a safe trip, take care.”
And my words were clear.
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