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Absence Makes the Heart Grow Stronger
January 3, 2011
Looking back, I don’t remember the last time you were by my side. Of course, I go to visit you every once in a while in El Salvador to see how you’re doing, but isn’t it hard living by yourself in such a miserable country? When I’m in San Salvador, I see so many gangs taking over the streets. Don’t you wish you could live happily with our family, like we did 10 years ago when I was 4? I know I do. It can be done, but why won’t you?
You have always refused to leave El Salvador and come to L.A. with us. My mom, my older sister and I have never understood because you won’t give us a reasonable answer. Whenever Christmas time and New Year’s come around, you act depressed because we’re not there, but guess what? It’s not paradise for us having to spend Christmases, New Year’s, and birthdays without you. Sometimes I wish for a hug from the man who is my dad, but you’re not here. I know you have asked us to go live over there with you, but my mom wants what’s best for her daughters. I get that you’re a nice man, who would never do harm to another person, but it seems like you don’t care about us... your family.
Years ago, ten to be exact, when we still lived in El Salvador with you, I would wake up at 7 in the morning and go downstairs to the kitchen to find you reading the newspaper. I would say good morning, tip toe to give you a kiss on the cheek, before making my way to the living room to watch Nickelodeon. When I got bored to death, I would go outside to play with my friends with you supervising from the door. I can still smell the fresh air of my country in those memories, but now when I think of El Salvador it only makes me gloomy. I wish that could happen everyday. Where I would wake up to see your honey-colored eyes, hear your loud voice that echoes throughout the house, and listen to you sing songs.
You have no idea how much nostalgia I feel when I hear people talking about their dads. Their words stab me like daggers in my heart. Their words make me think about how my life would have been different with you in it.
I remember one time when we went to visit you. I was 9 years old. The smoke poured out of the buses and cars, making the sky seem foggy. We got off the crowded bus and stood on the corner waiting for the cars to pass. When you quickly said, “Let’s go!”
Your hand grasped mine and we ran. The light turned green and all the cars started coming at us. I thought it was the end for us, but we made it. We started laughing. That was one of the best memories I have with you because it defines who we are as father and daughter. It almost got us killed, but we laugh about it now.
I hate when my friends say, “I hate my dad!”
I respond, “Why? At least you have a dad living with you! Appreciate what you have because other people, like me, would love to live with a dad.”
Why dad? Why won’t you live with us? It seems like everyone else in the world would give up anything just to come live in the U.S., but not you. I’ve been told that because of your absence, I look for a father’s love in other guys. Not necessarily having a boyfriend... but just hanging out with them. Sometimes people call me names because supposedly I like attention. Being called a “b****” or “attention w****” isn’t what I need. Not even my closest friends understand what I go through daily missing you. That’s why I try to distract myself with laughter. People constantly ask me, “Why are you always so happy?” In truth, I’m not.
The last time I saw you was on June 30, 2009. Your small watery eyes reflected my pain as I whispered goodbye at the airport. With one big bear hug, I left. My mom and I sat patiently in the airport waiting to board our plane. Those were long minutes. In my head, I said, “I’m going to miss you, Dad. Once again, we will go back to the U.S. without you. Maybe this will be the last time I’ll ever see you.”
Tears started running down my cheeks as if that whole month had just been a dream. Sometimes my tears turn into anger at you for not being there for me...
I admire my mom for raising me with good morals. I’m a fourteen year old now, not using drugs or following bad influences. I’m still making my way through life, without your advice or support. I’ve grown up without you for 10 years here in Los Angeles. For the first years, I was still naive enough to think that you would come live with us. My smile vanished years ago, when I realized you would never come. I hope that one day you realize all the ache you have given my heart. That day when you finally...
Oh, never mind, Dad. Me waiting for you is like expecting to win the lottery. Don’t think I don’t love you or miss you, Dad. I’m just disappointed and I don’t know if I’ll ever understand.
P.S. Happy Birthday.