On December 16th, 2017 at 6:30 AM, my friend Justino Mora called me to tell me he was at my doorstep. My flight to Mexico City was schedule to depart at 9:30 AM.
I ran to welcome him, seeing him is a breeze of fresh air, since the absence of my parents and brother, he has become my other sibling, my friend, my colleague in Immigrant Justice, my confidant, my rock that anchors me to sanity. I opened the door and hugged him, he was wearing his trademark black jacket with his red intersectionality shirt, I let him in because it was a cold morning and he was freezing.
He looked at me and noticed that I was not yet ready. I sheepishly laughed and told him I had to look pretty for my family, I have to pretend that I am at the utmost shape. He looked at me and begrudgingly grabbed my luggage and bags and loaded them to his car after barking at me to hurry or we wouldn’t be able to properly say our goodbyes.
I looked myself one last time in the mirror, and I scanned my room with deep bitter-sweetness. Happy because after 8 long months I was going to see my little brother, my baby, the person I use to cuddle with when it was raining, the person I used to run to when my heart was broken, when I lost a job…and the person I lost due to drug addiction. The last memory I had of my brother was of fragility, abuse, addiction, and with an orange uniform in a cold and abusive Detention Center.
I was happy that I was going to see him free, happy that I was going to see him without his addiction, happy that I was going to see my parents, living in the house that they built for 20 years in the United States. However, I was also sad and anxious. Sad that perhaps, December 16th, 2017 was going to be the last day I saw my room, the country I grew up in, my friends, although I knew that I was going to be ok (logically), I also was aware that I could be denied entry on January 1st, 2018.
But…you see, the pain that I suffered and the longing I desperately had to see my family, was stronger than any fear. Donald Trump be damned. I needed a hug from my mommy, a kiss from my daddy, and oh god, I yearned for an embrace from my little brother. My brother is the reason of the person I’ve become. I became an activist, so he wouldn’t go through what I did, access to education, a work permit…but I failed. I didn’t do it, he couldn’t do it, they didn’t let him. I wanted to tell him that I was so sorry for not saving him.
During the car ride, I was nervous and excited, I gave Justino strict instructions on behavior. He wasn’t allowed to do anything reckless and crazy without me, he had to wait for me. When we parked the car and walked towards the airport, my worries were briefly forgotten. It was time to take pictures and document this historic day! I was with my friend, saying goodbye to greet my real family. I was leaving my life behind, to meet my heart.
The moment I boarded my flight, I knew that if anything happens, if I couldn’t return to the United States, that it was worth it. I cannot explain how happy I was to see my family, I would leave behind many factors, but I am proud of the woman I’ve become. I’ve done enough.
Four hours later, I saw the map, and I was in Mexico. It was unreal, I returned. I was back. Something that for many undocumented immigrants is just a dream, so far but so close, that is an unbearable pain to dwell on. Yet, here I was, a scared girl, that all she wanted was to see mom again, god I felt so lucky and guilty. Lucky for returning to Mexico, guilty because I knew I had a tremendous luxury that 11 million Undocumented immigrants don’t have, and would give anything to return home. I cried. I cried for all of them, I cried that my parents never had the chance after two decades, it is unfair and cruel.
…when I saw my dad again, I was not an adult. I was a child, a child that just wanted her daddy to hug her and protect her from monsters. I hugged him and I let out all the pain and fear I harbored for eight months. “It’s been so difficult daddy, so difficult without you”. If you, my reader, have your parents with you, don’t forget to tell them how much you love them, because they can be parted from you in seconds, and it’s the most painful thing in the world. Specially when they are so close but so far away.
My poor father lost weight, he is skinnier and I think he is shorter.
My mom, my poor mother. Her eyes are tired, and now she has a perpetual bitterness in her smile. She had a hard life, so hard, that it never left her features, but she is the mom I love. I am so happy I saw her again, I don’t know what to write, because I can’t explain how beautiful it was to see my mom. My mom taught to be strong and resilient even if it hurts so much you just want to die. It felt as if I was drowning, and when I saw her, I could breathe, I was saved.
As beautifully painful it was to see my parents again, my brother, little brother, the person I love so much was waiting for me. My brother. He gained weight, and his cheeks had a rosy tint, he had a mustache and a light beard. His eyes weren’t sunken, his pupils weren’t glassed and dilated, his embrace was strong, I couldn’t carry him anymore. He is healthy. My brother is healthy.
The United States didn’t let him join the military, didn’t provide him mental health resources to overcome his anxiety and depression. The United States took him away from me before he was deported. So many times, too many times I almost lost him. I found him on an empty parking lot, high and halfway dead, his unfocused eyes will forever hunt me, they will never leave me.
But he is still halfway dead.
He is sad and bitter. Angel is hardened and thinks the worst of himself. He is defeated. He is no longer my strong headed brother. He is a shell. A shell of what he used to be.
…and I can’t save him.
Despite the pain, the surprises…I was still happy. Because we are broken, hurt, our hearts and souls are spread into millions of pieces, shattered and divided between two countries.