Stories For Liberation: How Do I Explain…?

(Painting/"How Do I Explain...?"/Gwynne Duncan)

This week, we feature another story from Herstory’s book, Brave Journeys. Leaving behind family and friends is a daunting decision that many young immigrants must struggle with. Yet, they persevere to achieve success in a foreign land that soon becomes their new home. Meet some of the high school students and college Dreamers whose stories you have been reading at Stony Brook University next Friday, April 20, as Herstory Writers Workshop hosts a panel discussion on both Brave Journeys and the Herstory writing method.

How Do I Explain…?

The battle with life, the reality of things, having to leave everything behind began 10 days before. As the days passed, I felt happiness and, at the same time, much sadness. Day after day, I say goodbye to my family and friends. That wasn’t easy at all. That’s how the hours and days passed.

July 13 was the day I had to leave my beautiful Venezuela, my beloved country. My mom, along with my family, prepared a lunch, which I remember well. We all sat to eat and talk at the same time. After a couple of hours, my family cut a carrot cake with cinnamon for me, which was delicious.

Four o’clock came around and the time to leave had come. I started saying goodbye to my family and neighbors. My heart felt it was breaking into a thousand little pieces, like when a crystal glass shatters.

My aunt, cousin, grandmother, beautiful mom, and I all got into my uncle’s car. On the way, I looked out the window and tears rolled down my face. I saw all the things that made up where I was from: those trees, flowers, malls, homes. Just by looking at them and remembering everything I saw, I asked myself, “when will I be able to see again all these things that were part of my life and day-to-day?”

I had a long and sad conversation with myself: “What will happen with my life? What will the United States be like, and what kind of life will it have for me?”

The phone rings. It’s my best friend, my sister in a few words. She said, “I’ll go see you with your godmother, godson, and my grandma ’cause we want to say goodbye to you at the airport.”

When we got to the airport, I unloaded my bags, and we went to check me in. I went with my cousin and uncle. We just took some pictures, then went to where the others were.

Hours went by and the time to depart had come. I felt my soul was leaving me. Suddenly, they said, “Please, board…”

I began to say goodbye to my grandma, uncle, and aunt. My little cousin of only two years, said to me, “Let’s go, Mairita.”

That broke my heart because I couldn’t take him with me, only in my mind. I thought, “how do I explain to a boy so young he can’t come with me?” He stayed attached to my leg, wanting to go with me.

My grandma took him away, but he didn’t stop crying and saying, “Let’s go on the plane.”

My heart said, “stay, don’t go, you’re leaving behind important things and important lives.” I just needed to say goodbye to my beautiful mother. I hugged her so hard without letting go and said, “Goodbye, Mom. Take care of yourself. Thank you for everything. Don’t forget that I love you.”

My mom was very distraught, she couldn’t stop crying. My mom looked me in the eyes and said, “Be great and go very far. I love you, daughter.”

I walked away, but behind a glass window, I could see my mom giving me an ocean of tears and sighs. I could only think to myself, “when will I see you again, mom? I love you and carry you in my heart.”