Open Borders

Mami, When Are You Coming Back?

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My name is Marta. I live in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. I have two daughters in Ecuador: Gabriela is 17 and Mayte is 11 years old. I have not seen them for 7 years.

I decided to come here because the economy back home was really bad. Even though I worked, I could not give them what they needed as they were growing up.

I left my job one month before the day I arrived in the US, and cherished all the moments I spent with them, because I knew that those memories were going to keep me alive every day.

I anxiously prepared my daughters for my departure. I got Gabriela’s approval with a promise that I would come back in two to three years; a promise I have not fulfilled yet.

Mayte was little and could not understand what was happening. The day I left I was able to say goodbye to Mayte. I gave her a kiss, I hugged her and gave her my blessing and told her how much I loved her.

I could not say goodbye to Gabriela though, because of last minute complications. And when I remember this it hurts me and I wish I could go back in time to that moment and say, “Goodbye,” give her a kiss, hug her, tell her how much I love her, and say, “See you soon.”

I know I have to provide them with everything they need to support them materially and morally, and I try to do everything I can.

Unfortunately, if I wasn’t here, my daughters would not have anything. I would be working there and earning a miserable salary….

My first daughter, first of all, is a quiet person, somewhat sad, shy. She was a sweet child, but the moment I left marta-borders-2
she turned more timid, and I used to call her from here and try to speak with her, saying, “Hi, How are you? What are you doing?”

She would only answer “Fine,” and I would try again asking, “Tell me something else.”  She would reply, “No Mami, I don’t have much to say.”

So , as a mother, it was very hard to find a way to communicate with my daughters on the phone and not by seeing them, or hugs and kisses—but just by phone…. . Talking and talking– that was very difficult. I felt so bad, I would say to myself, “My God! What can I do?”

I don’t know how I came up with the idea, maybe because as a mother I was desperate to communicate with my daughters. I began to ask her questions, like, “Tell me, what’s the name of your teacher?” and she would reply.  Or, “What’s the name of your best friend?”

So in the beginning , to say ,“My child, I love you,” was somewhat difficult, but at the same time I felt that if I did not show my love for her, how desperate I was, how in the world was I going to feel them close to me? So, to say, “ I love you, you are the light of my life….”

With my youngest daughter it was difficult because she was 3 years old when I left. Once I was here she would say, “Mami”– and would start crying—“when are you coming back?”

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Often, now, my daughters and I speak on the phone. I call them and they start singing me the songs they learned. They also tell me stories, different things, and I tell them stories too. We have long talks, read poems, and it’s a good relationship. I feel like they are close by.

As a mother I feel content. I know we are far apart, there is a long distance between us, but I feel they are very close to me. I enjoy every moment when I speak with them. I try to be loving.

Unfortunately though, I don’t have a date for my return. I can’t get my papers.

I don’t know– something makes me feel at peace and certain that soon enough I will be seeing them again.

If my daughters could hear me now, I would say to them that I love them very much, that I adore them, that they are everything to me.

Every morning when I wake up, I am inspired by thoughts of them, thinking about the future, hoping I will see them soon, and waiting for the moment when we will be together again.

I hope it will not be too long.