We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofJessica De La Rosa

I was four years old when my dad left America to Mexico. I didn’t know what was going on, but I felt something wasn’t right. He had to go back to Mexico because he didn’t have a green card and was here in America illegally. The immigration laws made him go for an interview at the U.S embassy in Mexico, so that meant he had to pack his things and leave. After he left, it was hard for my mom to pay the bills, so we were slowly losing our house during that time and eventually staying at my grandparents’ house. I remember my mom struggling so much to just take care of my brother and me while keeping up with her job. She was thinking of divorcing my dad because they had some personal issues, but she didn’t because she knew it wasn’t the right thing to do.  For years I lived my life without my dad. I went to school, graduated from kindergarten, I turned six years old and celebrated several holidays. Think- ing back to those moments, I wish my dad was a part of those memories. I had slowly forgotten about him because he was so far away. As little as I was  at this time, I was more focused on doing what little kids do so I didn’t really pay attention to his absence. It was like I hadn’t even realized his absence at all, but it wasn’t his fault. We were just here waiting for him.  One day when I was six years old, I was at my grandma’s house when I saw a man with my mom in the living room. He was tall, had black hair, and a mustache but at that point I did not recognize him. In addition, he had a suitcase with him. Feeling clueless and confused, I questioned, “Who is that guy with my mom?” It took me a while to realize that it was my dad and I couldn’t believe that he was finally back. Later, I learned why he missed almost two years of our lives. He had to live in his hometown in Mexico for two years because he was on a long waiting list until finally, someone called him back from the embassy to get his green card. That’s when he was able to cross into America legally and he immediately got in touch with my mom.  Later that year, 2010, we moved back into the same house that we were at risk of losing. My parents decided to sell it and move into the house that we live in now. After a while, I started to regain my relationship with my dad. He is funny, caring, and selfless. I love it when he makes me laugh. It is like he is filling up those empty memories from when he was gone. On my seventh birthday, he sang the happy birthday song in Spanish to me. He sang like Vicente Fernández. I was startled when he started singing because I didn’t really enjoy it. I started to whine because I wanted him to stop. He just laughed and smiled, acting like it was no big deal. Thinking back to this event, I really do regret not appreciating this moment because it showed that he still loves me and he wants to make his family happy. He put in every effort to sing to me, and to be honest, he really did have an amazing singing voice. I felt really close and lucky to have him in my life again. I was able to spend my time with him doing the things that I hadn’t done with him be- fore. I felt my most joyous and really grateful to have my dad with us. Learn- ing about my dad’s journey has helped me acknowledge how my dad has struggled and that patience is really important when it comes to family. 

© Jessica De La Rosa. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person’s teacher.