I walked out of my room one Saturday morning.
My mom, Nancy, two younger brothers– Juan Antonio and Joshua– my dad, and I sat around the table and began with a prayer thanking God for the food He blessed us with. When we did bow our heads for prayer, I wouldn’t just stare aimlessly at the wall. I would actually thank God for the delicious meal on my plate, my new home, my family, and the new relationship I had with my dad that I, at age seven, had always wanted.
My dad was about six-foot-five-inches tall. He weighed 300 pounds and had a strong, intimidating voice that would catch everyone’s attention. He was a very dark guy, almost deep purple. His head was bald and would shine in the sun. His eyes were a beautiful almond shape that would always change a shade or two lighter when the sun hit them. He always wore sweats with a white, holey T- shirt and red and white Jordans. No matter how far from him you stood, he always smelled like cigarettes. He was always preaching and saying how much of a better person he had become now that God was in the picture. My dad would always go to McDonald’s and buy a few meals for a young homeless couple he became friends with. I always liked that about him.
That year we moved in with him, he and I were inseparable, but it hadn’t always been that way. He denied me as his daughter several times. He had come and gone as he pleased. Each time he decided he wanted to be around my mom, my brothers, and me, he stayed around for a week or so. In that week, he would take us to dinner, zoos, and riding in go-carts. Then we wouldn’t see him for months. Every time he left, I would lose a dad all over again.
As I grew older, I learned that every time he left, he had gotten some girl pregnant. As far as I know, we have four half brothers and one half sister. My mom and dad would always fight, mainly because of his cheating, but for some reason, she would always take him back.
Well on the afternoon of this Saturday, my mom was getting ready to go out on a date with my dad. She looked breathtakingly beautiful that day.Her hair laid gently down her back with a few simple curls. She wore her usual red lipstick that complemented her paper white skin perfectly. My mom is a short woman, but the black heels she wore gave her a few more inches. She had on a shiny black, V-neck dress that went down to her knees. Her eyes were small, but her stare was intense and filled with a peaceful passion. When she turned and looked at me, she gave me a comforting smile that could have lit up a thousands rooms.It was beautiful to watch.
My brothers and I got ready because we were going to be dropped off at my nana, Michalla’s, two-bedroom house. All of my cousins were being babysat that day. We all played outside on the swing set, in the pool, on bikes and skateboards. As night fell, my cousins left for home one by one and it got quiet. Finally, everyone in the house had gone to sleep. I stayed up waiting for my mom. I was laying on the couch in the dark. The only source of light was from the TV that was playing cartoons.
Around midnight, my mom stumbled into the living room. I jumped up to say hi, but my nana beat me to her. I couldn’t see my mom because my nana was blocking her. All I heard was quiet sobbing as my mom lowered herself on the cold tile floor. My nana moved out of the way. My mom’s once-perfect hair was disheveled. Her tears caused her mascara to ran down her face making her cheeks black. One eye was red with small pink veins becoming more apparent. The other was swollen shut and looked like a purple-and-blue fluffy cloud, with patches of bright pink that circled it. I never saw her so fragile.
“ Mija, ¿que hizo?!” my nana yelled. My mom wasn’t able to speak. I didn’t know what to do or say to make everything okay. I was numb. My nana grabbed and shook me. My nana yelled frantically ,“¿ Porque no me dijiste que tu papa estaba haciendo esto?”
She looked scared, angry, confused, and hopeless. It was as if she was blaming me for not noticing this was happening. I was seven, but if I had known, I would have fought him myself just so my mom wouldn’t have to. I swear I would have!
I was confused. Just a few hours before, everything was perfect. How was I supposed to know my dad was doing this to my mom?
That was the last my mom saw of him. We both said nothing that night, or any night after that. An hour passed. My mom lay on the couch with her back to me. Not wanting me to see her and ashamed of her once-flawless face.
I lay down with her.