Upon boarding his one-way flight from Haiti to the US, my dad recounts feeling like he had died and gone to heaven. It was the most unbelievable thing he was experiencing. Yet, he couldn’t shrug off the clash of emotions, as he struggled with deep sadness for leaving behind the people and country he loved, along with the excitement for embarking on a new and promising adventure. After several years, the nostalgia he suffered could finally be comforted by the American strangers who made genuine and successful efforts to welcome him as a friend.
My mum's memory of leaving Haiti is a bit different. She entered American soil together with her father. But more than entering a land full of promise, she was excited about running back into the arms of her mother who took the risk of leaving her family behind with hopes of securing immigrant visas for them. That risk paid off many long and desperate years later.
Reflecting on my parents’ memories, I understand what was happening when I witnessed my mother weeping while watching a news report about an illegal Mexican immigrant who was being deported and forced to abandon her young children. In an instant, my mother connected with that woman’s unbearable anguish of being separated from the very people she lived to protect and nurture. She mumbled under her tears, “who will care for those children the way their own mother would?”.
Trying to console her, I apologized for not empathizing and my inability to understand the gravity of the situation. I am indeed privileged with the birthright to call America my home and simultaneously profess love for the country my parents emigrated from so that I can have the freedom to pursue any dream my heart desires.
As American citizens having now lived in the USA for nearly half a century, my parents continuously collect a return on the dreams in which they invested. They take nothing for granted. And as much as America is their home, so is Haiti. It’s so beautiful to me how they maintain hopes of brighter futures for both nations.
My parents have always dared me and my siblings to dream. It’s unsettling to see how many refugee migrants are living what looks like a nightmare. I imagine it must be fair to say that their humble desire is to simply wake up to a new day where they can finally rest their sojourning feet.
What a privilege it is to dream.
I am holding on to faith that our nation is in the growing pains of seeing a new day where the scales of justice are balanced. My heart is overwhelmed with a hope for peace for both the nations meeting the arrival of strangers, and those strangers who are simply looking for a home.
May your feet land high on mountaintops where your dreams will see no limits.