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Photo ofSarah Lopes

When I was in first grade, my father started a paving company called ¨Lopes Family Paving.¨ He had a friend that was helping him and who was loaning him some equipment because my dad didn´t have any equipment. Everything was going well. His company had been running for about seven years before things started to get slower, and he wasn´t getting as many customers. He couldn´t find any employees to work for him, and the business just wasn´t working out anymore. In the summer of 2019, he had to close the business. This was hard on all of us, but especially him because he loved being his own boss and he loved to pave. My dad tried so hard to find a job after the business closed.

He searched everywhere. He was unemployed for about a year and a half. My dad lived in Florida for more than twenty years before he met my mom. He met my mom in Florida, they got married in Florida, and they had my sister in Florida. Most of my family lives there. They moved to Virginia because my mom wanted to come and help her grandma as she was getting older because my grandma needed taking care of.  They moved here when my sister was one year old. They have lived here for about eighteen years now, and we´re ready to move back to Florida.

 My great-grandmother passed about two or three years ago, so there isn´t much keeping us here anymore. When my dad was looking for a job, he was not only looking for one in Virginia but also in Florida. He was offered a job in Florida in late September/October, and of course, he took the job. This meant he had to move away from us, which was really difficult because we had always been together. I especially have always had a really close bond with my dad. 

The job he originally got didn´t end up working out, but he stayed in Florida with my cousin and looked for another job. It took about a month, but he finally got a new job. He would visit us occasionally, not often though. He flew up here for about two weeks in mid-November, then flew back and we went to visit him for Christmas.

Every time we would have to say goodbye was the hardest thing ever. I developed some depression from being so far away from my dad at the beginning of this year. My parents knew I would need to see him again before summer, so they sent me and my siblings there over spring break. It was so nice to be able to spend time in Florida with him. He then came here a few weeks ago for my sister´s graduation and stayed for a week. It was so nice to have him home for a little while. After her graduation, he flew back to Florida. 

We are going to visit my father from the end of June into July. My mom has been searching for a new job, and we are hoping we can move to Florida before the next school year. To say living without my dad in the house is hard would be an understatement. It definitely has been very difficult for all of us, but I just keep trying to have hope that we will all be together soon enough. I know our being separated is only temporary and we're moving in the right direction but it´s still hard to be away from my father. However, it´ll be okay. 

© Sarah Lopes. 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.