This piece tied first for high school writing submissions in the 2021 Ánimo Voices Writing and Art Competition, which invited students to express the reality of the challenges they or others face and/or how they or others find hope through difficult times. The competition is an opportunity to motivate, recognize, and celebrate our strong student voices through writing and art.

Mother.

The last time I saw my mother it was a rainy and cold day, those where you can feel how
your nose and fingers get numb and you have to hurry to put on a sweater. The sky had turned
into ash-gray and the wind was indeed warm, but accompanied with rain it could make even the
strongest man shake. My mom and I were on our way to the airport because I was going back to
Los Angeles from El Salvador, my homeland. We were sitting in the back seats, so I decided to
lay down on her legs and look outside the window. The rain looked so pretty, as well as my
mother's eyes, I always thought that she was the prettiest woman I had ever seen. Her curly
hair, her short height, her voice, her intelligence, I could never be more proud of being her
daughter. But there I was, laying down on her legs thinking that I was about to lose her. I was
about to lose my refuge, my happiness, the only person that never made me feel alone. I didn’t
cry because I knew she would cry too, she is a very strong woman but at the same time very
fragile.

When we arrived at the airport and we got out of the car I didn’t want to move, I wanted
to stay there forever and be embraced by her arms. My mother is what brings me hope, she is
my motivation to continue, to be someone better than I used to be yesterday. When it was time
to leave, she hugged me and I corresponded the hug like it was not going to be the last one, but
I knew I had to face the reality. She got closer to me and whispered, “Please, take care because
you are everything I have”. How could I not cry after hearing that? How could I not be so broken
after hearing she felt the same way as me? She was also losing her happiness, we were losing
each other. I promised her everything would be fine, and that I would work hard to give
everything she needs. She only smiled and slowly walked towards the car, she didn’t care that
she was getting wet. She got in and the car started moving, I stood there watching how the car
slowly disappeared out of my sight.

The next day when I found myself in a new room that I didn’t even own, not having her presence made me realize how difficult it was going to be to wait for years to have her with me
again. I am excited to go to college, but that means more years apart from the person that
motivates me to go. I used to think that it wasn’t worth it to be away from her, it felt like a
waste of time. The thought that next time I see her she might have got grey hairs, and that
maybe next to her precious eyes I will see wrinkles that will show me how long I was gone. That
thought doesn’t show any mercy to me, it kills me every night before I fall asleep, and when I
wake up I just hope is gone, but it remains hidden so that I think it will never show up again.

Sometimes I lie to myself, I like to think that my emotions have found a balance, that I
never feel alone. Moving from the country that saw me grow was never easy, and it still
continues to overwhelm me. Rainy days in Los Angeles remind me of the last time I saw my
mother, of those days that I would stay next to my window looking and the garden in front of
my house. A beautiful garden with roses, my grandmother's chulas, and a big tree that was the
same age as me. I used to believe that when it rained the pure green would look even brighter
with the tiny drops of rain that would slide like they were running out of time. But here is
different, there is no garden in front of my house nor my grandmother's chulas that I always
loved to touch because they were so soft. There is no tree that resembles the year I was born
nor my old dreams and tastes. I refuge in those memories now, they make me feel alive just like
one day I will open my eyes and all I had would be there, right in front of me.

Mother, I know you will not read this now because you don’t speak English. But one day
you will, after I graduate from college. After I fulfill my dreams and I succeed in life like you
always tell me you want me to. One day, those rainy days that remind me of you and my
homeland will no longer be the source of my memories because you will be with me, by my side.
One day, mother, I will give you all I have so you can be happy and fulfill your own dreams
because that was the reason I left, to dream for you.