It’s been four years now since my mother passed away, four long years since she lost her fight against that liver leiomyosarcoma. I scarcely believe that much time has passed, because the COVID-19 pandemic certainly screwed up my perception of the passage of time for the past two years.

I’ve always had my struggles with depression ever since I was an angsty teenager devoid of purpose and discipline for the future ahead. As such, I’ve had a tendency to get melancholic and brooding during this time of the year, as my mind gets stuck going through what happened over and over again — this year, not as much, and it’s for the better. 

Perhaps I’m finally overcoming and learning how not to drown in depression (which comes and goes). Perhaps I haven’t actually gotten better at managing this and it’s just that I’ve been so extremely occupied navigating through the inclement sea of Venezuelan bureaucracy that I haven’t had time to sit down and let depression get the best of me again. For example, I just waited nearly three hours in line just to be able to submit a document for legalization, which will be returned to me in three weeks from now. 

Perhaps I’m fooling myself and I’ve just been drowning depression with my characteristic absurdist humor and by subconsciously choosing to laugh instead — more so than usual, come think of it. Time will tell, I suppose.

Be that as it may, the memories of all that happened to my mother during her final years (and most notably, her final days) do tend to resurface here and there. All the hardships she had to go through, all the odds that stacked against her, and my failure to have had the means to save her are things that I’ll never forget — I’ve just been able to manage and stave off the ‘what ifs’ better, or just been so busy that I’ve not had the time to fall in that trap this time around.

While I still have my bouts with depression from time to time, I don’t feel as miserable as I normally used to — sure, proper sleep continues to be an impossible endeavor, and I ought to get my health back up asap because, as my looks can attest, I’m not at my fullest capacity these days. My dreams and promises I’ve made are what keep me going, they’re my purpose and my meaning, and that is why I’m able to keep going even in this current state. 

My mind keeps doing its thing, it often presents me with dreams that involve wondrous structures and breathtaking scenarios, some too impossible to be reality. Some of these dreams have taken a different spin and now sometimes involve my mom being safe and sound (these used to be separate dreams), this has become quite recurrent as I’ve approached this date. 

Sometimes she’s just returning from a long absence, and I’m trying to catch up with her on some stuff, even explaining why some things are the way they are now and such. Then I wake up to the reality that she’s gone from, but always certain that she is taking care of me and my brother from above.

One day, I will address all of these burdens of my mind, but today is not that day, for I still have much work to do if I’m to fulfill the promises I made to her during her last day on this Earth.

This past month has been an entire microcosm of my life these past years, with stuff such as the nuances of the country’s bureaucracy, the shortcomings of our public utilities, and my responsibilities and duties as both big brother and caretaker of my brother amidst some health issues. I felt sick for an entire week, and that reminded me that while my brother has been slowly learning and knowing how to be more independent, he still can’t fend off for himself like a normal adult would.

I’ve slowly helped him learn how to do some stuff, and nowadays he even assists me in cleaning the house, something he was not capable of doing a year ago. He can’t really cook for himself, but now he assists me in preparing the food with stuff he feels comfortable doing, such as washing vegetables, mixing and stirring, et al.

I’ll keep taking care of him until my last day, but there will be a day when I grow old and I’m no longer able to, that is why I must work hard to ensure that he’s got a future, that much I promised my mother I’d do, and after four years, I’ve barely been able to make progress with that regard, or at least not as fast as I’d like.

Before my mom died, she wrote a letter to the spirit of Christmas in 2017, just as she always had done every year. The full contents of her last one are something I’ll keep to myself, but she did wish for more time, to live long enough until my brother and I would find our role in this life — that is something I’ve been trying to do as well as part of my greater journey.

Trying to start a new life abroad has been my main goal for the past four years, and I’ve tried so many approaches only to have them crumble by impossible obstacles and circumstances beyond my control, such as lack of resources, paperwork, closure of embassies due to the country’s political crisis complicating things, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

All these setbacks have undoubtedly left me with moments of doubt. I know I’m not capable of much and I have no qualms in admitting it, but failing over and over again hasn’t helped me with this regard. Recently, I found out that by being me, two individuals were able to meet each other through me and are now on the way to getting married. I don’t really have much education or skills and yet, I’ve somehow been able to help others in ways I’ve never thought I’d be capable of doing, I find that fascinating.

Things such as that have lifted my spirits lately, and certainly have a hand in why I don’t feel as depressed as I normally do — perhaps that’s why I try my best to make others laugh and smile.I still aspire to become a force of good like my mother was in life, but in my own way as I’m no doctor like she was, nor as smart as her. Knowing that I’ve been able to have a positive impact on the life of others perhaps means that I’m on the right path towards achieving this.

I started the year with no new plan to play or no new visa to try to get, I had already lost, plain and simple. Last year’s attempts at a work visa fell apart in November, and that was my final gambit. Embassies remain absurdly backlogged, and that’s the main shared obstacle right now.

Currently, I’m trying to attain something which I had no way of pursuing until two months ago. This relies on a photocopy of a foreign document — a paper shield, if you will — for which I’ve spend the past month and a half burning through resources and time to obtain all the necessary documents, certifications, stamps, apostilles, and translations in order to turn that photocopy into the means of traveling abroad with my brother, thus overcoming the travel barriers that a Venezuelan passport cannot overcome on its own, and which have become even harder to overcome as time went on.

You have no idea how much I’ve prayed (and will continue to pray) to God for this to finally materialize. When it does, it won’t necessarily mean the end of this journey towards a new life, as this doesn’t come with a visa or permanent residency solution. It will, however, be an instrumental piece of overcoming the travel limitations that I have right now, and  it’ll allow me to move around countries until I find a more permanent visa/work/residency solution — and ultimately, my role in this world.

It’ll certainly help me fulfill my promise of getting my brother outta here with ease, that much is certain. Sword, which I fully intend to have published sometime this year if all goes well, might perhaps help me open a door towards a new life. A paper shield, and a paper sword, that’s all the weapons I have in this fight.

My local church won’t be open on this day, so I’ll stick to what I had been doing for the past two years, light a candle, pray, and take the day easy. I’ll try my best to stay productive to stave off depression, I’ve been doing an acceptable job at this lately.

I also need to get serious about improving my health, because once I obtain those Italian passports I’ll begin a new chapter of my life, my body better be ready for it.

The road goes ever on for me, and this journey is far from over. One day, when all is said and done, and I’m finally the son that my mother deserved to have, I will finally get that much needed vacation.

Until the next time,