A month ago my husband Billy took a job in San Diego. He got on a plane a couple days later and said a temporary good-bye to Ella and me and BBQ#2.
It’s a long story, which I won’t go into, but suffice it to say my husband has been working or volunteering at odd jobs for the last four years while continually searching for full-time, sustainable employment. This employer in San Diego has been offering him this position for nearly three years. With the new baby on the way, we had a conversation and Billy decided, “I gotta go.”
There’s a documentary called The Other Side of Immigration that remains back with the families and communities that are “left behind” when men venture to the States to work. I have been thinking about that film repeatedly this month. I am the wife of an immigrant.
What surprised me about this experience was not the increased workload without a partner. I have a sweet community who quickly and eagerly rose up to offer support. And working hard is simply life… taking out the trash, doing the dishes, getting me and my daughter where we need to go, working, doing laundry. It’s exhausting, but it’s life and plenty of people manage day-to-day details on their own.
Nor was I overwhelmed by my sadness of Billy being absent. I knew I would miss having him around to make me laugh (and provide good material for blog posts). And I fully expected to eagerly await his return. I also anticipated the incessant “Papi?… Where Papi?” questions I did receive from Ella.
No. What snuck up on me unexpectedly was the wave of sadness I felt that the city I love and call home couldn’t find a place for my husband. I felt betrayed… not by individuals… but by a place that I have loved for more than a decade.
And then I kept thinking… what’s that feel like when it’s your country of origin? When the place where you were born… the country that you know and love… cannot find a place for you to work and live? It’s a very sad emotion… and I’m not even sure I can articulate it well. Disappointment, betrayal, abandonment? I can’t find the right word.
But my heart has been with immigrant families this month. Those that don’t have the luxuries we have had of video chats, texting, phone calls, and the security that Billy will not be arrested, murdered, or left to die in the desert. (I mean, I guess those are always risks… but I think you feel my point.)
Our original plan was that Billy would remain in San Diego for 3-6 months. (Billy kept saying 6, and I kept saying “Let’s reevaluate after 3.”) But… in the mysterious ways of the Lord… Billy was offered a full time job in Atlanta this past weekend. And he is flying home today. We give praise to God!And our hearts still pray for families who cannot be reunited so easily. Those who are apart 3 months, 8 years, or longer to be able to provide for their families. It is not easy going, and it is not easy being left behind. Sarah Quezada works with Mission Year, a year-long urban service program for young adults. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband Billy and daughter Gabriella. Stories and reflections on their cross-cultural life and ministry together can be found at her blog, A Life with Subtitles.