Convinced by Ricardo (my father), my mom and him migrated to Spain around the same time the first McDonald´s opened. When they first moved she used to take us to visit our family in Mexico every chance she got, but when Ricardo and her divorced, the trips stopped. I would like to say that it was after the divorce when she became a single mother, but both her and I know this to be untrue; being a single mother is the only way she ever knew, the only difference now being that the struggle to maintain us was greater. As it usually happens, some things had to be sacrificed in order to maintain a certain lifestyle — or at least be able to live in the district where all the good private schools were — and one of the first things to go were the family visits.
Even though the Atlantic ocean stood between us, my grandmother always made sure to stay as present in our lives as possible; she kept in touch and sent us letters with stories, just like the ones she used to tell when we went to visit her. These letters were the only material thing I had to remind me of her, so I neatly organized them and kept them inside a blue box stored away in my closet. With the advancement of technology we were able to have a more constant communication, but even then, other things such as work or the time difference got in the way.
Fourteen years later, as if planned by God, I finally got the chance to travel to Puerto Vallarta with my mother. I will never be able to fully describe with words the feeling of seeing my family again. They were only expecting my mother’s arrival; there was a long pause when my grandmother saw me walk through the door. The way she embraced me will forever be one of my dearest memories. I was finally able to look my grandmother in the eyes and feel the love she has for me. It was as if a piece of me had been missing my whole life and I finally got it back, because there is nothing more painful in life than being separated from your loved ones.
The trip lasted two weeks, and even though I couldn’t wait to be back home with my boyfriend, it didn’t make having to leave my family behind any less painful. Just as I can clearly remember my grandmother’s embrace when she first saw me, I can clearly remember how it felt to have to remove my 12 year old cousin’s arms from around my waist during our last goodbye, while reminding her that no matter the distance, I love her always.
After a thousand goodbyes, a thousand kisses, and a thousand promises that we would see each other again, my mom and I finally made it to the plane, and all of a sudden I was a kid again. We had once more gone from being surrounded by a sea of loved ones to being alone, with nothing but the silence of the plane loudly reminding us we have but one another. It was at that moment I was able to understand my mother at a different level. Of course, I always understood the sacrifice she had made for us, but I had never felt what she felt. I had never had to choose one life over another, and I certainly never had to do it alone.
But, and this is the important part, we were also full of joy. Joyful because again we were complete. Joyful because of the time spent and the memories made, and joyful because although we were sad to leave this life, we were also eager and happy to return to our other life.