I remember vividly the day I was traveling to the U.S. It was in the month of August and it was a Saturday morning. I was in Quito, the capital of Ecuador at my cousin's house. My uncle Fernando, who is a U.S. citizen, was in charge of picking me up to go to the airport. I was getting ready for the journey of what was going to be my new life, but little did I know.
It was an uneasy morning. I looked at the luggage all ready for the trip but then the thought of my grandfather’s well-being began to flood my head. My grandparents were my caretakers not only for me but also my sister Mary and my little cousin Brayan. Unfortunately, the turn of events began when my grandmother passed away from pancreatic cancer and the babysitting job was too much for my grandfather to handle on his own.
It was then when my parents decided it was time for me and my sister to come to the U.S. I didn’t want to come. I didn’t want to leave my grandfather. He had just lost my grandmother and was going to be alone. My heart ached to have those thoughts. I was worried something would happen to him and that I wouldn’t be there for him.
The morning of my departure my grandfather wasn’t there with me. We both couldn’t face the reality of our goodbye. I didn’t know I was staying in the U.S. but I guess deep down I knew that our farewell was going to be for a long time or even forever.
I got dressed, with the newest clothes I had received, probably sent by my parents. My aunt combed my hair and gave me a ponytail and then braided the rest of my hair. I was all ready to get picked up, but then I began panicking and crying.
I locked myself in a room, weeping of sadness and I couldn’t control it. The feeling took over my whole mind and my whole body. I heard knocks on the door. First, it was my uncle telling me to come out and then it was my aunt. “You can’t disappoint your parents, they have paid a lot of money for you to go,” they said. The guilt was making me feel worse.
I opened the door and my uncles said someone special wanted to talk to me. I grabbed the phone and it was my other uncle, Brayan’s dad. “Listen to me, everything is going to be alright but you need to come to us,” he said. “Things are going to be better here and you will have anything you want.”
I thought about finally meeting my mom and dad. Of having toys, going on trips, playing at arcades, and playing video games that my parents said they would buy for me. But still, the thought of my grandfather’s well-being lingered in my mind.
Yet, everything changed after my grandfather himself told me to go. “It’s for your own benefit,” he said with a shaky voice. I knew he was crying but he kept reassuring me he would be okay and that I needed to make the trip. Then, I also thought about how hard it would be for him to take care of me, Mary, and Brayan on his own, especially because I was a handful.
That Saturday I left my grandfather, my aunts, my uncles, my cousins, my great-grandfather who I was also very close to, my dad’s side of the family and my friends. I left the only ones I knew since I was born to meet my parents who at the time were complete strangers.
Looking forward 14 years later, the trip was definitely worth it. I left a lot of my loved ones behind but eventually, we got reunited at least once throughout these years. Most, if not all, my family who stayed behind, even my grandfather and great-grandfather, received a visa and was able to travel to the U.S.
I know many family members who immigrated to the U.S. and did the same thing of leaving their children with family members. It can take years to see them again and sometimes you won’t even have that chance. I’m just happy that I had the opportunity. Not everyone that has experienced a similar situation like mine can say the same and for that, I feel blessed and extremely thankful.