THE FLOOR

We have only been here a few weeks.  That’s why we didn’t check this rash thing I got.  We figured it was because of sleeping on the cement floor in the jail.

We are fleeing violence.  We were threatened.  We had a small store, and the gangs wanted more than we could pay.  More than we brought in.  Then they said they were going to take our daughter.  She is nine.  Our only living child, besides this new one on the way.

What could we do?  We took off in the night, with what little we had.  We couldn’t pay a good coyote to cross.  We had to just take our chances.  And we got caught.  We said we want to apply for political asylum, and we told them why.

They took my husband away and they wouldn’t tell us where he was.  They held us for 12 days.  It was a warehouse I think.  Just walls and a concrete floor.  It was so cold at night.  No blankets.  I kept trying to sleep in strange positions so I could make myself into a good bed for my -nine-year-old.  She is our only living child, and the thought of losing her…

I got the rash after we were released, and I washed carefully, thinking maybe some kind of bug.  Some kind of reaction to dirt or not being able to wash.  Our daughter didn’t get it, thank God.

A week after they let us out, with orders to keep reporting in to immigration, to ICE, we found out they started separating the parents from the kids.  Not just the dads.  The kids.  The parents from the kids.

They don’t understand that most of us, almost all of us, are coming so our kids won’t get killed.  So they won’t be kidnapped.  So they won’t be – harmed.  So they won’t be taken from us and – changed.

So there is nothing worse they can do to us than to take our children.  To take them at gunpoint, just like the gang threatened us, and have them alone, and do whatever they want, and we – helpless.   The fear, the rage, when we would give our life’s blood to protect them.

One of our countrymen killed himself – yes, you can read about it.  He killed himself, because he went crazy when they took his daughter and they wouldn’t give her back or say where she was or what they were doing to her.  He came here because this was threatened.  He came here to get away from it.  And now it happened anyway, and he just lost it.

I understand him.  I think I would have gone completely crazy if they had taken my daughter.  I slept on the floor, on the concrete, and I didn’t care if it was days, weeks, months or years.  I made a bed for my daughter, and I kept her as warm as I could.  And she didn’t get a lung infection, like some of the kids.  I kept her safe.  And that’s all I want to do.  I just want her to be safe, to have a chance.

If you are a parent, you will understand my feeling.  Even if you don’t understand my whole life story, you will understand my feeling.

Now the doctors at the high risk clinic say I have this liver thing.  They say the rash is from that. They call it cholestasis, and say it can happen to anybody.  They don’t know exactly why.  But I can’t help thinking that it might be from sleeping on the floor.  Getting so cold.  Being so worried sick.  And they said the biggest risk of this liver thing is stillbirth.  Yes.  My baby can die inside of me because it.

Can you imagine?  We are still in shock about our crossing.  About getting in right before they started taking the children at gunpoint.  We are so grateful our daughter with us, and alive, and whole.  And now the doctors tell us our baby might die.  Maybe our baby will be taken from us.

Is it my fault?  Did I sleep on my liver, and make it cold, while I was trying to keep our daughter warm?  I just don’t know.  I pray to God to forgive me my sins, and to let my baby stay alive.