How I lost my grandma because of work
I reached out for my grandma’s hand.
It felt stiff. Lifeless. Cold to the touch, sending me instant chills down my spine.
Never would I’ve imagined my grandma to be on the brink of death, especially when just the day before, she was stirring porridge with her utmost care and attention.
But like all people, fate rears its ugly head and mischievously rubs its hands, carefully picking which card to end a person’s life. Unfortunately, my grandma got the silent heart attack card, making her crippled for life. But despite her frail body and the doctors’ growing thoughts of abandonment, she was fighting to stay alive. Fighting with half her heart to restore the life she’d enjoyed back home.
As her gentle rhythmic breathing suddenly turned into gasps, guilt hit me like a sack of bricks.
Why didn’t I eat out with her during family dinners? Why didn’t I offer her a hand when she was cooking? Why didn’t I talk to her more?
My hands clenched. Tears started trickling down my chin.
I felt shitty.
All this time, I’d been stuffing my face infront of the computer, blogging away. Finishing tasks I knew I couldn’t finish until a week later. I was rarely home, stepping out the door at 10am only to come back from the office at midnight. 5 days a week.
Even on weekends, I was gone — working at coffeeshops, hanging out with friends, or exploring the other side of Silicon Valley. Completely oblivious to my grandma’s condition, which at the time was daily complaints of pain (which actually was the repetitive pounding of near-death).
My family pleaded me, over and over again, to spend more time at home. But every time I reminded them about my past, they nodded their head in silence. They knew I couldn’t afford to waste my future.
But little did I know, my time spent working was time wasted — not being with the one person who’d always watched over me as a kid whenever mom couldn’t. The one who made sure I was well-nourished. The one who bandaged my cuts when I got hurt. Even as a little brat, she was always there for me.
But I wasn’t there, for her.
And now, it’s too late. She could only lie down on the hospital’s electric bed, waiting for someone to talk to her and take care of her basic needs.
For that, I regret not making time for her when she wanted to see me more.
Time can only tick forward, and there’s nothing you can do to undo regrets. The only way you can forgive yourself is by changing your habits to reflect what’s important to you.
A Self-Reflection of My Life
All this time, I’d buried myself into work and brushed off the most precious people of my life: family.
I thought if I could push myself harder and get ahold of my career, I would finally be able to pay off my debts and give them more than what they’ve given me. Treat them to nice dinners. Surprise them with a gift they would never buy for themselves. Buy them airplane tickets for a 2-week trip to New Zealand or the Bahamas — that’s if I have thousands to spend. But of all the valuable things I could ever give, it’s my time.
Because unlike money, time cannot be earned back. One second passed is one second lost. That’s why I’m hustle hard at my startup, Rabbut. Because only then could I finally hit it big and return all the things my family has given me.
But what’s the point of working hard for family if they’re no longer there?
What I need is balance. Instead of investing every minute into work, I need to make time for family. That’d mean eating dinner together without checking my phone, going on photoshoots with my sister, helping my mom prepare food, listening to my dad tell me about the latest news. It might not sound like much, but hey, that’s a whole lot better than 5 seconds of eye contact until I retreat back into my room.
There’s only one thing more precious than our time, that’s who we spend it on.
Remember, time is precious.
And it’s up to you to decide who and where you want to spend it on. Don’t invest it all into work. Because if one day your business dies or you lose someone special because of your sole commitment to work, you lose everything that’s meaningful to you.
Find your balance. Compromise. Spend time on work, but make some for family. Because when shit hits the fan, you know who’s got your back.