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Chicago Matters

Voices of Separation

Listen to more about what it feels like to be separated from your family members. These stories come from the town of Quiringüicharo.

MAN: I'm going on 17 years in this country.

WOMAN: I've been married for 16 years. The longest he's ever stayed is one month.

MAN: I've never been there for any of my wife's birthdays, for example. Or for any of my kids' birthdays either.

WOMAN: He's spent more years over there—far away—than he has with us, his family.

WOMAN: He has a lot of work left before he can come back. He says he's going to try to make it at least two years.

MAN: She waited for me 11 years. When I left, the girls were small, and when I came back—they were getting married!

WOMAN: I added up the time, and altogether, I've seen him for a year and a few months—in my whole life.

MAN: It's a sacrifice that you have to make. 

MAN: I think it's the same story for everyone.

MAN: I have one daughter who's 13, and another who's almost two months old. I've never seen her—I'm going to meet her.

WOMAN: He goes when they're sleeping, because it's so hard for him. How does he say good-bye? He gives them a kiss. 

MAN: My wife, she doesn't get up. She doesn't even turn around and give me a kiss good-bye. Because if she sees me leaving, she says, ‘I think I'll stop you.' And I told her, ‘I think I'll stay, too.'

WOMAN: I wish more women would open their eyes and follow their husbands. That they'd cross whatever they had to—bridges, fences, rivers—whatever—but be willing to follow their husbands.

WOMAN: I tell God our Father in those moments when I feel so alone, I ask him to hold me. I tell him that He is the substitute for my husband and I need to be held.

MAN: You see another couple, I tell my wife, ‘I see this couple…'

MAN: I go to stores, to shopping, to the mall, and I see other families…

MAN: Having dinner and everything where I work…

MAN: I picture myself…

MAN: You know you imagine things, you know, you miss them a lot.

WOMAN: They just ask about their dad, they ask where he is. We sit down to eat, they ask about their dad. When they go to bed, they ask about him then too, where's their dad. And what are you going to tell them? You just tell them that he'll be back soon.

MAN: All the kids, every time an airplane passed…

WOMAN: A plane would pass…

MAN: ‘Dad! Come back! We are over here!'

WOMAN: He'd say, ‘There goes my dad! There goes my dad!'

MAN: ‘Bye, Dad, bye!'

WOMAN: ‘Bye Dad, bye!' Yelling at the plane.

MAN: ‘Dad, we are here! Bye!'

WOMAN: And you're there with a lump in your throat, oh my precious child. And he says, ‘Why didn't my dad land here?'

MAN: Your kids don't recognize you!

MAN: They looked at me ugly, they asked why did I embrace their mother?

MAN: My little girl said, ‘This isn't my dad!'

MAN: ‘My dad is in the United States.'

MAN: ‘My dad's up north!' And the little girl embarrassed, all goosebumps. So much time that you spend up here.

MAN: I pretty much grew up without my dad, because he was most of the time up here in the USA. And I needed my dad with me. And I feel the same thing right now, I mean when I'm in Mexico and he's here, I'm waiting for him to come. And when he arrives, I feel so happy!  But happy, happy. The love that he couldn't give me as a child, I still want it.

WOMAN: Say where your dad is! Say! Say!

BABY: Ca-go (Chicago)

WOMAN: When is your dad coming? Huh?

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