By Mayra, age 18, California
Sweet Designs Featured Writer
A glass window about 5 inches thick was the only object separating us from each other. A brown telephone on each side of the glass was the only form of communication. And deep stares along with lamentation were the only things restraining us from having a conversation.
Two years ago, I recall running away from home and running away from my father. Having to hear the constant threats of murder towards my mom was painful, and so were the nights when my dad would creep up to our home and try to force us to open the door. I remember feeling empty-handed when we left the place we called home for 16 years and moved to a tiny one bedroom guesthouse a friend of my mom's offered us. I felt so disappointed, yet for the first time, I never felt so alive. This freedom we had all obtained felt unknown and very pleasant at the same time. Even though we lived in this small place, this small little piece of nothing, we were happy knowing that no one would bother us here. The company of each other was all we needed, and even though at times we felt scared for what might happen, we always kept our faith and hope for a better tomorrow. It took a lot to get to where we are now, a beautiful house in an upper-class area surrounded by trees, flowers, and friendly neighbors. Everything is perfect, yet I continue to feel incomplete. There is a huge hole in my heart screaming for the father I never had.
That's how I ended up back here. That's how I ended up visiting my father, who after two years is locked up in a prison only 15 minutes away from where I currently live. It's almost ironic, how faith comes into play and has us so close, yet so far away. So here I am sitting on this small steel stool, waiting for my dad to come out of his cell into the room filled with more than 20 cubicles. As I'm waiting, my mind is flooded with memories of when we used to be a family. As I attempt to remember the way my father looks, I see a row of men walk in wearing royal blue outfits with "Los Angeles County Jail" written on the back. As these strangers wearing blue walk past window 116 ... I see my father.
There are no words I can use to express the way I felt at that moment. But I can tell you this - I wanted to break that window down with my bare hands and hug him so tightly and tell him how much I have needed him all this time, how empty I have felt since we ran away, and how much I still need him today. Instead, I sat down, feeling so lonely and crying my heart out like I have never done before. My heartbeat was pacing fast and my eyes were locked onto his.
When he finally realized I was there he began crying, and I could tell that he felt the same way I did. I felt weird. I felt heartbroken. I felt so many emotions I cannot describe. When he sat down we both picked up our phone and stared at each other deeply. For two minutes we just looked at each other, both crying with a passion. We then managed to lift the phone to our mouth and asked the same question at the same time. We talked and talked and talked.
After an hour had passed, a guard began to point his flashing light at every occupied cubicle. I knew what was coming and I did not want it to happen, but as my father said I love you he reached for the glass window and asked me to place my hand right onto his.
I wish things could be different ... but they're not. For now, I can't say much, only that going to Castaic* helped me realized the value of my freedom and the value of life itself.
Existing in this world is easy. Living life takes more than that.
Which would you rather do ... exist or live?
* The Los Angeles County jail in Castaic, California