Life can get you so lost you find your self confidence.
by Lucy Rodriguez
After one month of supposedly fighting his case, my dad eventually lost, and had to leave this country voluntarily because he was being deported. I assumed he would never come back. He won’t be able to see his brothers or sisters again. He probably wouldn’t ever step foot in L.A. ever again. Out of my all my siblings, it hit me the hardest.
I was 13 and I remember it was summer. We had been living in Washington State for about eight months and I was in eighth grade. The day came when my dad had to go return to his hometown in Mexico. He woke up at five a.m. to catch the bus. I was sleepy but I managed to wake up and drive with my mom at the bus station. He was leaving to L.A. and from there to Mexico. My sisters woke up to say there goodbyes and went back to sleep. When we arrived at the bus station, my dad cried and he told me that he loved me and not to worry because everything was going to be okay. He hugged my mom and me, the three of us wept in the waiting room. My dad was the last one to board the bus. He waved goodbye and the door closed behind him. I cried the whole drive back. I was so sad because I love my dad he taught me so many amazing things. I wanted to be just like him for he always brought happiness and hope when we couldn’t manage to find it. He also taught me respect. And I love him for that.
Shortly after my mom, three sisters, my younger brother and I moved back to L.A. The first year was not so bad, dad called us twice every week and we talked for hours. The next summer my siblings and I went to Mexico to visit him. It was fun. When we were at the airport, it was so hard to say bye to my dad. I hated saying bye because I knew it was going to be a long time until I get to see him again. My siblings and I hugged him so tight then we left. But at summers end, we returned to L.A. My mom managed to pay for all of us but it made us really poor we ran out of money. Things begin to get hard we were five kids and only my mom to support us. We moved several times a year, once when the apartment manager realized we were five kids he kicked us out. We once lived in a small one-bedroom apartment that had already a couple and a baby. They slept in the living room. At the time we were so desperate, so all of us five kids and my mom moved into a tiny room that would barley fit a king size bed. It didn’t matter though because we didn’t have a bed we all slept on the ground. And the bathroom was even smaller.
Often I would see my mom stressed out and I couldn’t do anything to help her. Every time I saw a picture of my dad I cried. Sometimes I would dream that he would return but when I woke the pain of his absence returned. Two years passed and missed him even more. When I played basketball for Venice high, I wanted him to be there to support me like when my older sister was playing. I would see my teammate’s parents at every game but my parents were never there, my mom was always working either as a baker or a home caretaker. She only went to one game. I felt parentless. My dad not only missed my games but also my middle school graduation, birthdays, thanksgiving, Christmas, new years, camping trips, and most of my teenage life.
The summer before I started eleventh grade, my two older sisters were working at a restaurant so they were going to fly out to see my dad. I begged my mom but still she refused. The day my sister arrived in Mexico, my dad called and I began to talk to him. I told my dad “ Te amo mucho” which means I love you so much. He told me how he wishes I was with him. We cried over the phone for two hours and I felt as if I couldn’t live without my dad anymore.
I didn’t want to live anymore. I felt lost and confused. I became depressed. I quit talking to my family. Every night before going to sleep, I would remember all the happy moments I shared with my dad, the way he taught me how to shoot a basketball, the way he held me into his arms when we were waiting in the ER because I got meningitis, and the times he cooked Chinese food.
I lost focus in school. I had four Fs. I hated going to class, so most of the time I started ditching. I began to drink alcohol every other day sometimes a whole week straight and began to smoke excessively. I would come home and sleep most of the day, or I’d sit on the bed I shared with my brothers and space out. At night to escape my sadness, I would draw and avoid conversation.
Junior year was over and I failed 4 classes, so I got kicked off the Venice high girls basketball team. That summer I kicked back with a home girl most of the time we were drinking. One day, I didn’t come home until 5 am and I was drunk. The next day, my mom confronted me. I was thinking of how all this time my mom was killing her self at work and stressed out and I was out screwing up. She asked me why I had been drinking and I told her because reality was too much for me, and I missed my dad. I knew I was going to get hit but that would not have changed me, instead she talked to me like a normal human. I cried to her telling her I didn’t do it to see her suffer. I did it because I couldn’t take it anymore. I knew my family wasn’t the same. At the end she grounded me for about 3 months. I’m so happy she did because all I wanted is for someone to help me.
Things got better. I talk to my dad once in a while and I try to be happy because I know if I’m not its going to keep my dad from being happy. He wouldn’t want to see me the way I was, and I hope he never does. I want him to see my as his little girl with no problems and no worries. I’m blessed for still having my dad alive, and I’m planning to go see him this summer. I’m thankful I have a wonderful family that is imperfect. My mom once told me people are like diamonds they are gorgeous from the outside but if you have a magnified glass, you can see inside there are bits of dirt. I’m grateful every day I wake up with my family by my side, and I’m grateful that blood still pumps through my heart. When I see that a person is going through a rough time I try my best to help them out because at some point everyone needs help and love to get them through those tough times.
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Artwork: Lucy Rodriguez