To herald in the New Year, we bring back the writer who contributed “Welcome Home Primo” to our November series, as she asks the Holy Virgin to aid her in a decision too big for her young heart alone. Here, she kneels for all immigrants and all Dreamers, and all the young people whose parents face danger in the shifting of their temporarily protected status, as impossible decisions and changes loom larger each day. We reintroduce her in the hope that she will be able to claim both stories, with safety for her family, under her own name.
“The Light with the Answer”
I just wanted to know if God was still listening me. This little flame in front of me, all fired up and shaken, reflects my inner self. It’s unsettled as I am. This angry little flame reflected off my eyes. As if the devil himself was laughing at me, pointing at me, in this Holy Catholic Church.
I’m two rows away from Jesus Christ. My knees are clinging to the very bench that I am praying on.
“God, please let my parents get back safely, just please, let us get there and come back without a problem.”
I kneel for all the immigrants. I kneel for the Dreamers who were probably confused when crossing the desert. For the innocent little babies who were probably injected with sleeping medication because an entire group should not be caught over the wails of a child. For victims of violence, who left their native countries because their foreheads foresaw the bullet that would take their lives. For my parents, who need to go El Salvador because they need a legal entrance into the United States.
“God, listen, our lawyer said they need one legal entrance, just one. Give me a sign that we can go and come back okay. Just one, that’s all I need from you. Forget everything I have ever asked for, I just want my parents to be able to stay. If we don’t do this then they need to wait for their papers in El Salvador for a year. God, are you even listening to me anymore?”
The flame in front of me starts erratically moving side to side, flashing at me like siren lights. It’s bouncing like a child eager to take her first steps. Its yellows and reds glow in my eyes, almost so bright as if their light was created just to blind me. The flame is screaming and shouting at me with directions. Directions I cannot decode.
“God, what is it that you’re telling me?” I ask. “Should we not go, God? Is that what you’re telling me?”
My knees are aching. What sacrifice am I making if God isn’t listening to me anymore? What have I done for God to leave me in the dark? He’s supposed to guide me with his light. But the only light I see is screaming at me.
My heart is being grabbed out of my chest. My tears have been built up to stream down my face at this very moment.
“Why is it that you are not listening, God? Have I disappointed you?” I ask.
I look at the couple next to me. I begin to wonder if their pain is greater than mine. My heart is aching. The thought of my parents being ripped away from me for a year pierces my flesh. It scrapes my skin letting me bleed slowly to death.
“They’re all I have on this earth, God. Why aren’t you answering me?” I scream.
I look around at the white walls. At each stained glass window. Jesus wears his crown of thorns. Blood is dripping down his forehead. He has fallen carrying the cross. I begin to wonder whether I am living an image of Him. Am I obliged to carry this weight, the weight of deciding whether we leave the United States or stay? The lawyer said, “Go.” Why am I hesitating? Why is it that first-generation children are expected to make all the hard decisions? Why is it that the decision of leaving this country for a week must rest in my hands?
I have my parents running around, searching for an answer. We call one lawyer one week. We drive miles to meet with another lawyer the next week. We wake up early to meet with another lawyer. We come home late from meeting with another. Why must I turn to lawyers before I turn to you, my God? I’m tired. My parents are tired.
“Why have I hesitated to come to your House, Dios mío?” I ask.
I continue to kneel in this empty church. This white empty church filled with religious figures, Jesus Christ, baby Jesus, Virgin Mary. So much spirituality around me, yet I feel untouched by any of them. The only physical beings are the couple and me. I hear a whisper. Yet, the couple is too far to figure out what they are saying. As I lose interest in trying to understand their pain, my eyes begin to blur.
I can’t see the candle flame anymore, just little specks of yellows and reds. My eyes are blurry. I’m gasping for air. I can’t see the flame any longer, but I know the reds and yellows are standing still. Perfectly still. Just a swift little shake from left to right here and then. Like a calm wave. My eyes begin to water as God blurs my vision.
“Why are you shielding me, God? Why can’t you let me see your light?” I ask.
My lungs begin to expand, allowing me to breath. One big breath and I can suddenly stand on my feet again. My eyes are dried up. I decide to leave my white holy church, filled with colorful stained glass windows. I decide to leave the brown benches that held my knees up as I felt I was slipping into the earth. I pass the holy water that the priest uses to baptize babies. I walk away without an answer.
“Wait,” I think to myself, “I can’t just not say goodbye to Virgin Mary.”
“Hola, Virgencita. No estoy bien,” I say to my Mother as I walk into her dedicated room,
I walk into her room. It has so many candles. Candles that are meant to illuminate our Mother. Candles that are meant to keep her spirits high after the Romans killed her one and only son. I go to kneel in front of her. As I go to kneel, she becomes bright. The bulb above her head turns on and illuminates her entire body.
“Gracias, Diosito y Virgencita, we are going to El Salvador,” I say.
I leave church with an answer.
I love this story of spirituality, hope, doubt and courage. So many young people are experiencing the heavy responsibility of their parents safety with grace and determination. Thank you to the author for her beautiful words and story honoring the love for her parents!