My mom died after I graduated from an Ivy League (dreaming big)

My Secret Notebook
2 min readMar 29, 2021


When my mom was bedridden and began to lose distinction between fiction and reality at the hospital, she innocently marveled at my dad and I, saying how we all graduated from Taida University, the best school in Taiwan.

In about a month, she passed away. She was only 57 years old.

She was a woman of many dreams, and I remember her saying, “And this is life, isn’t it” as she realized her days were numbered.

But my mom and I, we had a big dream, the both of us. It was for me to get into an Ivy League school — to graduate from one. And I can tell how deep this desire was in her when she told my dad and I that we all graduated from Taida.

In fact, that was basically my whole goal too — to get into Ivy League schools.

It was a big dream for us as both my parents didn’t go to college. But looking back, I realized how I wasn’t dreaming big enough.

After my mom attended my graduation from an Ivy, she passed away about 5 months later from cancer. She saw the fruition of all our hard work. And that was the end of her life on earth.

But I didn’t die. I kept living.

And I didn’t have a goal anymore. I already achieved what was my life goal. I was lost.

I reached for church to find fulfillment, but as a gay man, it wasn’t a place my mental health could thrive, so I stopped going.

It left me constantly wondering what mattered to me and what I wanted.

I never had that problem in high school.
I was always so focused, so motivated. So hungry to prove myself that I, a child of blue collar immigrant parents, could get into Harvard, Princeton, and Yale.

But now that I did, what was left? Do I just die now?

Honestly, there were points in my life where I felt like it didn’t really matter if I died. I didn’t have kids, a significant other, or other responsibilities.

But such is the journey that I still am on — finding what truly matters to me, what is truly meaningful to me.

My mom had many dreams and hopes. It’s unfortunate that I couldn’t help her realize more, but it’s time I dream and hope too. And I’m sure she would be so happy to see me realize them if I can. So hears to dreaming big!



My Secret Notebook

Quirky, curious, and philosophical Asian American gay Ivy League grad living in Southern California.