When our inner voice appears to manifest the strength of our will, there will always be the possibility of freeing ourselves from the circumstances that constrain us, and thus start anew, without any fear of what the future holds for us.
It was the second week of December 2021. A call at 10 am would illuminate the remaining weeks of that year. “Good morning. I'm calling you from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. There's someone here who says you know her. Could you tell me if you know her name?”
“Dayana!” I immediately replied, adding her last name without fail.
“The person you indicate is accompanied by someone else. Could you tell me if you know her too?”. “Ifigenia. She is my goddaughter.”, I told him immediately.
The officer on the other side of the call told me that they were processing the information but that I was to be pending because that day or the next day, they would be released so that they could attend their asylum process before a United States Immigration Court.
Asking for solidarity
In mid-October 2021, Dayana called and wrote to my wife to ask for our support in what she considered the most complex. She had decided to leave Venezuela with her 9-year-old daughter, Ifigenia, for which they were going to take a flight from Bogotá to Mexico City and then cross the border into the United States.
Our friend wanted to know if she could give our information to the immigration agents in the United States because she had informed us that it was a requirement so that they would not be detained.
“Of course, you count on us”, I answered without any doubt.
My wife told her that it seemed like a huge risk for her to undertake this adventure with a 9-year-old girl. “It was she who convinced me to do it!" Dayana answered my wife.
In February of that 2021, Mariano, Dayana's husband, collapsed while he was working. He was taken to a health center, where the doctors diagnosed him with inflammation of the gallbladder. They scheduled an emergency operation for the next day.
At night he presented a complication when he was confined in the Hospital. Apparent myocarditis had suddenly decompensated him.
In the early morning hours of the next day, Mariano passed away. From cardiac arrest, a doctor said. But the head nurse told Dayana that it was a typical picture related to COVID-19.
The cremation costs $800. Dayana had no way of completing that figure. She sold a few remaining pieces of gold, raising just $350. But amid that enormous hardship, there was no lack of support to comply with that painful process of depositing the remains of her husband in a niche with his tombstone.
Although everything happened so fast for Dayana and Ifigenia, two weeks later, it seemed like a century. Dealing with her husband's spare parts business was an immense challenge, not only because the economic crisis and the pandemic made the inventory disappear but also because Mariano carried out the daunting tasks, and Dayana only had to deal with administrative issues, making it easy to take care of Ifigenia´s education, something that until then required her exclusive dedication, because the schools were closed and the classes were virtual, and all the school tasks were done at home.
One day in April, Dayana came with Ifigenia to visit our house. She was troubled. She told us that she had to close the parts store. The expenses were unsustainable. “Ifigenia's glasses broke. $180, imagine, I was barely able to complete the three installments to buy them.”, she explained with a little anguish.
Will to restart
“Comadre”, I began to explain to him, “Life can be a road full of ups and downs, and sometimes we can feel trapped in a situation that overwhelms us, that does not satisfy us. That's common when we've experienced a significant loss, had a major relationship breakup, or suffered a career or business setback. In these situations, it's easy to feel discouraged and hopeless. But although it can be difficult, within one, there is an enormous force that emerges with the spark of our momentum. It is the will. And its most radiant manifestation is when it is used to start anew, with the intention of overcoming any of these difficulties.”
And I continued explaining: “The will is a powerful force that drives us to do things that may seem difficult or even impossible. When we come to the inner understanding of starting over, we are telling ourselves that we are not going to let our current circumstances stop us. Instead of feeling stuck, we commit to finding a new direction and moving toward our goals.”
And in truth, it is so. The will to start again implies accepting that things are not working as they should and that our course is heading towards something that we do not want to be imposed on our life, which leads us to the conviction that we need a change. This can be scary, as it can mean facing the unknown and letting go of the familiar. But when we have the will to do it, we can overcome our fear and find the strength to move forward.
Will also implies being impulsed to work hard to achieve our goals. Starting over can be a difficult process and must require a lot of effort and sacrifice. But when we are committed to our goal and are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve it, we can overcome any obstacle that comes our way.
Said this, we review some options to reinvent the spare parts sales business, which led us to the idea of switching to a model supported by online sales and using a delivery service to deliver the spare parts, using your home garage as a deposit, to be able to close the place that was generating impossible expenses to pay.
Point of change to a new reality
It was the month of October 2021. Despite the great effort that Dayana used to advance her online business, the truth is that the expenses overwhelmed her. Her car had broken down, and the repairs totaled about $1,200 that she simply had nowhere to get.
Sleeplessness and desolation began to alter her character. There were nights when she locked herself in the bathroom crying so that Ifigenia wouldn't see her like that. Face-to-face classes had finally started and the endless mornings doing homework with her daughter finally left her some space. But the direction was not clear.
On a Friday afternoon, Ifigenia arrived like a whirlwind. Her best friend had left for the United States with her family, traveling by plane to Mexico. They auctioned off everything they could sell and went to Colombia to leave Bogotá.
“Yes, there are options Mom.”, Ifigenia told Dayana.
“We don't see them because We are clinging to what we know. Definitely, we have to go.” she continued arguing, although her mom little understood what was happening. She went up the stairs, and in 15 minutes, she came down with a backpack that barely fit a few items of clothing.
“This is all we need, Mom, a backpack with few clothes. Do not cling to anything because that weight will not let us start towards everything that is new and awaits us.”, Ifigenia asked her mother, waiting for an immediate response that, surprisingly, came from inside Dayana.
“And so we decided to go to the United States. I sold the car. I got out of everything I can sell. The house is difficult, and I'm selling it for $20,000.”. In this way, Dayana explained to my wife the change that had led her to the American dream, "Although a sleepy dream is that immigrants get for the work days they have to go to do," she concluded.
My family got together and bought plane tickets from Bogota to Mexico for Ifigenia and Dayana.
On December 8, that family of two began their trip to get to Mexico and from there to Texas.
Without fear to restart
“Ma´am, you will excuse me, but I do not see any situation here that indicates that you are a persecuted person. I have not understood why you are afraid of returning to your country.”. The CBP officer had rebuked Dayana when he was interviewing her to determine if there was valid cause to present her case before the Immigration Court.
“Can I talk?” Ifigenia said after raising her hand so that the tall official could see her.
"Go ahead." He said.
You want to know what awaits us if we return to Venezuela. Death. We are afraid of that. She stalks us, threatens us, persecutes us. It is not possible to see her, but she is felt. But when death took my dad ten months ago, we couldn't even see she was there. When a neighbor came to help us take my dad to the hospital because there were no ambulances, death was setting traps to take him away. When my mother arrived at the hospital, and the workers asked her to go out and buy the supplies to treat him, and my mother barely had money to buy what they asked her for; death tripped her up so that she would know what she was dealing with. When my dad passed away, and we didn't have money to give him a decent burial, death made fun of death herself. We cannot go back because death awaits us, and that is what we are facing.
The official couldn't believe what he was hearing. “She is a 9-year-old girl! What is it that these two creatures have lived?” He asked himself.
Ifigenia seemed like someone taken out of a self-improvement movie.
“¿Do you think that a road free of bad things awaits us ahead? Nobody knows. Neither do we.” She continued while turning a lock of hair with her hand.
“But it's a path to somewhere in our future. We got here with no fear of restarting. I am to blame for having convinced my mom that we have to start over and that our fears and doubts could not stop our momentum.” She continued talking almost without taking a breath.
“That's something I learned from my godfather. We can not go to let all those circumstances stop us. Instead of feeling stuck, we are committed to finding a new direction and moving toward to the best of life. Life instead of death!.” And then she took a little moment, like trying to let the next part of her speech be strong and clear.
“Do you want to know what made me ask my mom to come here?” She asked the officer. “The presence of death. It was in his gaze. In the tears that she no longer had. If it's hard without my dad, can you imagine what it would be like without my mom?” At that moment, Dayana could not contain the tears that she had not released for several weeks.
And Ifigenia finished by saying, “We arrived here with only two backpacks that we are not even going to take with us. But you can be sure that if we get out of here, we'll get out alive to begin again.”
It was close to three in the afternoon.
I got the call from Dayana. They had left the Processing Center. I had to buy the plane tickets, so they would let them leave.
A little while later, a man called me and told me, in native English: “Today, something extraordinary happened to me. Something that occurs very rarely in life. Know that I have asked God for many blessings for your goddaughter and her mother. They are welcome to be free, without fear, to the United States of America”.