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The American Nightmare
I remember how crazy my mom and I would get when we would put the music on really loud in our house; we would just dance around like if we were insane people. My mom was my best friend - I could trust her with anything. I felt really comfortable talking to her about personal topics.We had the best mother daughter relationship, no one could have ever broken us apart but I guess sometimes things do change.
I’m still confused about what happened on that day, about two years ago, one month after I had turned thirteen. October 28, 2008 was the day I thought I had lost my mother forever.
I woke up at 8:00 thinking that it would be like any other Sunday, spending time with my family at the park. I looked out the window and thought, “Another beautiful day in Lancaster.”
I loved seeing the mid-October leaves falling from the heroic Clementine tree in our front yard. Not wanting to get up yet, I snuggled in my blanket. The neighborhood seemed quiet and my whole house felt empty because everyone was still asleep.
All of a sudden, I felt like my head was being shaken by something loud.
“Ugh! I hate when people bang on the door like that!” I thought to myself.
I stared at the snow-white ceiling. My parents never wanted us to open the door unless we knew who it was, and besides, I was feeling too lazy to get out of bed. I just stared at the bumpy spots on the ceiling, wondering how they would feel if I touched them.
The banging continued.
“Someone get the door!” I thought to myself.
I looked out my window again and saw ordinary cars and a silent neighborhood. I saw a light coffee-brown Toyota Corolla in front of the old basketball court and wondered, “Whose car could that be?”
I heard my 9 year-old brother Alan get up to see who was at the door. I laughed imagining his small, lean figure with long hair that didn’t seem to fit his personality.
Suddenly, I heard Alan shout, “Hey! The police are here!”
I was slightly curious to find out why they were here, but it wasn’t anything unusual. They had come to our house before, always looking for someone or asking us questions about the neighborhood. Rather than be bothered, I decided to stay in my bed and find out more later.
The police asked my dad with a serious tone, “We are looking for John. He appears to be lost. Have you seen him?”
My dad, trying to be helpful replied, “No, but maybe I can help you find him. Who’s John?”
One policeman responded, “That would be great. Can we please come in?”
“Sure,” my dad answered.
My dad doesn’t like to show fear. He works out a lot and he’s muscular, but still appears skinny. When I heard the police come inside, I decide to get off the bed and look outside the window. I walked a few steps down the gray-carpeted stairs and stopped where I had a perfect view of the kitchen.
At that same moment, I saw my mom had sat down with my father and the cops at our glass-topped kitchen table.
The police were repeatedly asked questions about my aunt that has the same last name as my mom and she has also been to jail a few times. They had only used “John” as an excuse to get in.
The police asked, “Does she live with you guys?”
“No she doesn’t,” Responded my parents.
“Did she live with you guys before?” they asked.
“No she didn’t live with us,” my dad calmly answered the police’s question.
After that, I started getting a weird feeling I knew something bad was going on but I didn’t know what exactly.
Should I be worried or just forget about the feelings?
Alan worriedly asked my mom, ”What seems to be going on, where are you going?”
Finally, I come out of my room and saw my mom hurrying to get to her room.She didn’t have time to say anything.
The police man downstairs shouted, “Ma’am, please hurry up, we got to go!” His voice sounded mean and aggressive.
“Wait up!” my brothers and I rudely responded. I had completely no idea what was happening at the moment asked my mom, ”Where you going?”
She mumbled with tears coming out of her brunneous eyes, “They are taking me back to where I came from.”
I had no idea what she meant. In my mind I asked myself, “Is she telling the truth. I followed my mom downstairs. The police told her to only get her ID and her medication because she has high-blood pressure. My mom took turns giving everyone their last hug. It was my turn. I didn’t want to let go of her. I wanted her to stay; she couldn't leave my family alone. “What will happen when she’s gone?” I thought. I had to let go even though it hurt me to.
I told her not to worry and that God will be with her no matter what.
My dad was in the back, his face seemed very unusual but he seemed sad. My dad had begged the police to take him instead of my mom. He told the police, “ Take me instead, my kids need their mom, please she can’t go, think about my kids.”
Once, my mom left I ran up to my room, I took a look outside the window. I saw my mom getting into the car but I noticed that she took one last look at the house. I’ll never forget how she looked that day, her expression on her face looked like it was going to be the last time I would see her. In other words, I thought I was not going to see my mom in a long time. I thought my world had ended without her.
A month went by, and it was the worst month in my whole life. We lost our four bedroom house, I had to give my two dogs away. We moved in with my aunt in a small little bedroom with no heater. The winter was cold because of the snow. The room felt like a freezer. Everything was different: the house, the food, and my family. My mom would cook different foods for us everyday but now I felt hungry and very empty.
Telling people what had happen to my mom was the worst. I thought that everyone felt sorry for my family. I’m thankful for everyone that had tried to help even if they couldn't, the thought still counts.
A few months later, my aunt offered us to stay with her in her one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles. There wasn’t much space at all, but it was better than nothing. I was worried about moving schools, not having my mom with me was very different and lonely, but I had no choice.We had to move.
Some say I started behaving bad. I guess I did. I would come late to classes and I wasn’t paying attention in class cause I would worry what I would cook for my family. I wondered what my dad was doing in San Diego, where he worked by himself, but I mostly think about my mom and I would wonder what she was doing in Guatemala.
Things were getting harder now that we had move in to our own apartment; it was also hard for my mom not having her family by her side. I had to take more responsibility as a thirteen year old needing to cook dinner, take care of my brothers, and clean the house. I wasn’t the only one doing work around the house, my dad and brothers would help out with cleaning and making sure everything was in place.Then, I understood how my mom felt when the house was a mess and how tired she was of cooking all the time. I was the only girl and I had no one to talk to now that my mom was gone. It wasn’t the same talking to my dad he didn’t understand me like my mom did.
Once in a while, I would think about how me and my would take long walks and she would tell me about her teen years, the boys she dated, and the funny things she would do. I would tell her about the things that bothered me and how when I grow up, I’ll be able to give her what ever she wants. I missed when we would go shopping, even when she wasn’t able to buy the things I wanted.
I didn’t speak much to my mom when she would call from Guatemala, but it was nice hearing her voice at least a few minutes. My dad was the one who mostly spoke to her, when my brother and I would come home from school he would tell us that my mom said she loves us. In my head I would pretend that I was speaking to her and I would tell her “I love you” back. Thinking about that would make me remember when my mom was back, I would always end up crying thinking to myself how much I miss her and love her.
In September of the next year, we found out that my mom sold part of her property to pay for a coyote to bring her back to USA. My dad would pay the rest when she got here. The day she started walking on her journey was October 20, 2009. She was expected to arrive six weeks later.
My mom told me here journey was hard, they had to walked a lot, my mom wasn’t alone she went with a group of people. They walked day after day. My mom was at her worst she was getting really sick everyday. Her legs started to cramp up she fell to floor. In her mind she kept thinking, “This is it I'm done for it”.
The coyote told my mom to get up that they were not going to leave her because she could die like the dead bodies on the ground. My mom had a goal for herself, it was to get to her kids, to her family. She got up and continued walking. In her journey, she got stopped by a man. He searched my mom for money he put his hands all over her. Luckily, he didn’t find the money my mom had hidden.
After a while, when they were getting closer, they all got into an R.V. My mom says that there was no space. People were on top of people, no one could move. My mom was on the bottom, there was a man laying down over her. They were in the R.V. For a few days, there was no stopping, not even to use the restrooms.
The nights in the desert were cold. She only had the clothes she was wearing and she had to share a blanket with another person. I remember that she told when they were about to cross, it was dark outside and there were helicopters in the sky flashing lights down on them. Everyone was scared, but if they showed it they would get caught by the watchmen. Immigration was on them like an owl watching its pray. Everyone was wearing black sweaters they put their hoods on and dropped to the floor and hid like they had never hid before. It was a life and death experience for my mom.
Back at home, we all knew my mom was coming back, but we didn't know when we would be able to see her. My dad told us that if my mom was in Arizona, he would go and pick her up all the way over there. My brothers and I anxiously asked my dad if we could skip school and go with him to pick up my mom.
It was about 7 o’clock when my dad’s phone rang.
We all woke up. Who could it be? My dad answered, and all I heard him say was, “OK I'll be waiting for the call.” The coyote was here near Los Angeles but they needed to get permission from a man to let my mom go. The second call told my dad that we can pick up my mom around 8:00am.
"Mom is coming, we are going to see her again!” screamed Alan while jumping on my bed and over me.
When we were on our way I felt nervous and very excited to finally see my mom. I had no idea where we were. We waited in a empty parking lot for a while. Afterwards, a small car appeared it stopped on the right side of my dad’s big red truck. Inside the small car was a man and my mom. My mom! Should I get out or should I wait? I ran and gave my mom a hug, while I was hugging her a smile ran across my face. I was so happy to have her back!
After that was over my mom got in the car, she looked very tried and restless. We went to eat at Denny’s for breakfast. Day after day my mom would tell us about her story. She could have stopped, but she didn’t. My mom has been though a lot. She’s a strong woman, she has a strong heart, and for that, she’s my hero and will always be, and for that I love her. I love what my mom always say, “El amor nos ases furte.” “Love makes us stronger.”
When I would think about what happen to my mom I would tell myself, why hate life why hate this state or the law because my brothers and me could have been in a foster home without any parents. A few months after my mom came back, she got a call from my grandma, she told my mom that she was happy to be back with her own family and to thank God for sticking by our sides. The next day my grandma died. My mom said that it was actually a blessing that she was able to go back to see her mom for a whole year before she died. Even after going through a long and scary journey she saw the positive in the whole experience.
Instead of thinking about the bad things, I learned to have faith. Life’s not over when something bad happens. Not giving up on myself during the time my mom was gone made me a stronger person. Bad things don’t happen just because God wants us to suffer, he wants us to be strong, to believe in him and to never give up in life.
“Everything is possible for anyone who has faith.” (Mark 9:23)