Continuous thankfulness

The last seconds of my mom’s sweet voice on the phone are interrupted by a loud rooster in the background; I believe it belongs to my next-door neighbor Elena, that loud and affectionate “almost-aunt” who spoiled me throughout my childhood.

I realize then that the noisy bird might become one of the meals waiting for me when I go home in May. What a feast my comeback to Santa Lucia will be, I think for a second with a half-smile.

Mom, that powerful warrior of 4’9’’, knows exactly what to say next to her goodbyes and well-being wishes. “Llore y ore, mijo,” she adds, her constant reminder for me to pray and cry to God in moments of need, precisely like the one I just shared. I poured in our phone call all my frustration and repressed anger.

Our second round of efforts to have her come for my graduation, involving a month of back and forth correspondence with U.S. senators and embassy officials, dozens of petitions from friends and strangers, and my column going semi-viral, did not have a happy result. “There is nothing we can do,” Congressman Steve Womack’s secretary told me.

Mom will not be here.

A headache has possessed me all day long, an effect of the stress and tiredness of the week before spring break, which for me means Cathedral Choir Spring Tour. Amidst my whines of endless projects and commitments, sweet mother is blind to the fact that I am, at the moment of her final words on the phone, working hard to contain tears.

As the tears start to dry out, an epiphany of sorts comes to me, in the form of a YouTube video: Jessica’s Daily Affirmation. If you have not seen it, run to the nearest computer, watch it, and smile.

In 50 seconds, a curly 5-year-old being all thankful and overexcited transformed my pessimistic outlook.

“Nunca se esta tan fregado como se cree,” Your situation is never as bad as you think, is the phrase I’ve heard more times than I can remember. That daily reminder was never more relevant than today.

I’m thankful for everyone who cared about my mom’s visa situation, for every person who shared my column, who acted in some way to help us accomplish this dream.

The frustration because of the injustice remains, but Jessica’s happy dance and mom’s voice convinced of many things.

I am thankful to know that my mom’s worth transcends any riches we lack. I am thankful that my mother survived her polio attack when she was three years old and that she remained strong through her three difficult pregnancies.

I am thankful for my 5-year old nice Diana, my own lifesize, cuter version of Dora the Explorer, who charms me away with her early wit. I am thankful for Leonel, the two-month-old bundle of hope and smiles, who gives our family a reason to continue.

I am thankful that I received the Walton Scholarship in Feb. 2008. I am also thankful that two weeks ago I called two young Salvadorians, Noemy and Carlos, and gave them the exciting news of being Aida Hernandez and I’s Walton scholar replacements.

I am convinced that my mom will visit this campus someday, and I will tell her stories of sleep-deprived days and midnight Taco Bell runs, gorgeous candlelight concerts and injuries on the BPAC’s stage.

Someday, my entire family will be immune to the pain that American bureaucracy is causing us now. We’ll deem it insignificant, shake our heads in disbelief, and probably laugh about it.

But for now, I’m thankful that I can bring my hand to my chest and feel my heart. I am thankful for the busyness of my last 50 days of school, for the news articles that are to come. I am thankful that at least via satellite, mom will watch me wearing a cap and gown on May 5.

Mom will be here.