We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofJoseph Danesta

The blurry image of my mother driving away from me is ingrained in my memory. My heart broke as I longingly looked towards my mother’s car, through a curtain of streaming tears, wondering when I would see her again. 

I felt as if the tears were never going to stop. Earlier that day, I was asked to make one of the most painful decisions of my life: decide to leave with my mom or stay in California with my father. They were asking me to tear my heart in two. I was worried. I knew regardless of my decision I would not be seeing one of my parents for an unknown amount of time. I wished this was a dream. I wished she was not leaving. 

I believed the best decision was to stay with my dad in California. I chose to side with the familiar. I chose to stay near the majority of my family. I didn’t know my cousins from my mom’s side. I didn’t know if they would embrace me knowing that I am from a different place. I constantly wanted to be with my dad, too. This is why I thought it was best to stay with my dad, which was a bitter choice to make. My mom gave my brother and me six months to think about our decision. We were left at a proverbial fork on the road for half a year, but they were the fastest six months of my life. I woke up every day with the pain of knowing one day I was going to have to watch my mom leave for another state. As decision day got closer, I continued to hold on to the hope that my mom would change her mind, but that never happened. I remember the day she left she picked up my brother and me from school, took us out to eat, and went to her apartment for the last time. She then dropped us off at my grandma's house. This took a great toll on me. I wouldn’t have thought she would’ve ever left me. I thought about her every day and how life would have been if she had never left. It impacted my everyday life. I was used to always seeing her and she was just gone. This has shaped me into the kind of person I am today.

© Joseph Danesta. 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.