For young immigrants who are compelled to migrate to the United States, they must often make the unimaginably difficult choice of leaving their childhood homes, as well as their loved ones, toward an uncertain and potentially dangerous fate. This week’s story is featured in Herstory Writers Workshop’s recently published Brave Journeys, a collection of poignant, first-hand accounts of immigrating to the United States. More information can be found here.
By Fate’s Choice
It all started one night like any other. I was outside the house looking at the stars and combing through the beauty of the universe when, all of a sudden, I heard the phone ring. I wasn’t surprised because my dad tended to call every night, but that night and that call would remain marked in my life. When my mom’s phone rang, I felt a very strange sensation inside.
My mom answered as usual. My dad wanted to talk with me first and that was weird because he always talked to my mom first and then with me. When I answered, he asked me a question that would totally mark my life and future. The question was, “Do you want to travel to the United States?”
When I was first going to answer the question I felt excited, but then I felt super bad because I was making a choice: I could have a better future or die trying. And I thought about everything: leaving the place where I was born, leaving the people I had lived with for so long and, the most important, leaving my precious mom and little brother.
In those moments,, I felt my heart torn apart, and I couldn’t think clearly. In the end, I told my dad, “Yes.”
My heart was like a piece of fragile glass, with whatever words my mom would say, like, “Don’t go.” The words my mom told me the night before I left for my journey I will never forget. We were lying on a hammock talking, and she was giving me wise advice:
“Daughter, if you leave for the United States, it’s for a better future and to be better, not to be worse. And don’t think I’m making you go, believe me that my heart breaks in two knowing you’re leaving my side, but the decision is yours to make, not mine. You decide if you leave or not. But from my end, I support you in your choice.”
Those words marked me.
I began my journey when dawn came. They came for me, and I said goodbye to my mom and brother. I cried so much, I choked up and felt terrible. My heart was in pieces. I felt and had the hope to see them again.
It was the moment to begin my journey. When I was on the way, they didn’t let me have a cell phone to communicate with, but the person in charge of me would be the one to communicate with my dad.
I left my beautiful country. I was leaving behind everything I knew and heading to an unknown place, unknown people, unknown culture. I placed my life in the hands of God, hoping He would be the one to safeguard my journey. When I left El Salvador and was already in Guatemala, I crossed the river that divides Guatemala and Mexico. I was in Mexico without still being able to communicate.
Time passed until I reached 15 days of being incommunicado from my mom and dad. I imagined that was something horrible for my mom because she probably wondered, “What happened to me?” “Where was I?” “Was I okay? Alive?” I knew that was destroying my mom, because a mother’s love for her child is great.
Well, I arrived at my destination. I don’t complain about what I went through along the way because I knew God cared for me and didn’t let me suffer that much. That’s why I give thanks to God. Now I find myself in the United States safely, striving for a better future, because if I went through what I went through and suffered, it wasn’t to throw away in the garbage all my efforts, but for my mom and dad and family to feel proud of me and to make my life better.
I find myself here fighting for a better future. Not everything in life is rosy. You have to act not just dream, because if you don’t act and put effort in, dreams aren’t going to become a reality from nothing.
It makes me very sad that in special moments like Christmas, which is for sharing with family, we’re not all together. Another time that saddens me is when my birthday comes and my mom isn’t here, nor my brother. It’s very hard. But that’s what gives me strength to be able to keep going, knowing my effort will be worth it and that because of it, I will see my mother again someday, and my brother, too.
My mom is a great inspiration for me. She is a blessing in my life because if I fall, I will get up again with the strength of God, first, and then for my family that’s my strength to be able to keep going forward.
These tears I cry now I shed with pride because I know that in the future these tears will become joy and much happiness and prosperity.
Translated by Silvia P. Heredia