I have many questions to ask you every time I see you. Every time I see you down, every time I see you triumph, every time I make you proud. Questions like, where do you find the strength to get up every morning? Do you ever want to take a day off? Will you ever put yourself before your family?
Living in fear must make you sick, is that why there’s always bags under your eyes? Do you ever feel safe, even if it is just for a minute? Why do cops scare you so much? Nothing can happen to us. Right? I don’t like how your boss treats you, he’s racist and doesn’t pay you on time.
It’s 90 degrees outside, do you really have to go to work? You get darker every Summer, does your skin burn? This Christmas, it’s okay if there are no presents under our tree, the money he owes you God will pay you later. I wish we could fight back, papi. I can see your silence is torturing you. Someday, I’ll be a lawyer like you were and help others speak up.
Don’t tell me your sorry, sorry for bringing us here and struggling this much. Papi, someday I will work and you won’t. Someday, I will be your voice and you’ll be my strength.
Papi, how will I ever be able to repay you for what you do for us? How will I ever repay you for all the times you’ve injured yourself at work? How will I ever repay you for living in fear? How I can protect you?
I wonder if you know how much I admire you. Leaving your office and trading pens and papers for tools and machines. It must not have been easy. I admire you for knowing when to help me out when I need it. I didn’t have to tell you when something was bothering me. For hugging me whenever tears begin to form in my eyes. I thank you for not letting me give up.
I wish people knew how funny you are, how well you’ve raised your children, and how much you talk to God. I wish they stopped calling you a criminal. I wish people knew how scared I am to lose you. How scared I am to have to go back.
I will be happy if someday I can be smart as you. Someday, I will get that diploma you’ve worked countless hours for. Someday, I will buy you a house and we will fight about what colors to paint it. Someday, you will feel safe. No more stressing.
Papi, I don’t know how, but I will make every sacrifice, injury, headache, and drop of sweat worth something. I don’t know how but I will let everyone know you’re a human being, worth more than their criticism. I will let everyone know how great of a Papi you are.
12 year old me