Culture

How I Learned to Forgive My Cuñada and Why You Should Too

I suppose it’s not that uncommon, but my cuñada didn’t like me much for many years.

“Nice to meet you,” she said, in clipped and heavily accented English the first time we met. She shook my hand taking it away quickly and barely made eye-contact, but I knew she didn’t approve of my short hair, my tattoos, or the fact that I was third-generation Mexican-American. If I had been someone else entirely, she probably would have found other things to hate about her too. My cuñada had left Mexico by herself. From what I know now, there were some dark reasons that she had to leave. It took her two tries to cross in Tijuana, but she made it all on her own, knowing that her brother would pick her up in Los Angeles, show her the way in the Bay Area, and support her financially for as long as was necessary.

She must have felt that my relationship with her brother was a threat.

When we first met, I was visiting the apartment that they shared then. We hadn’t been dating long, but things had gotten serious fast on account of our ages and his immigration status. I was 28 and he was 33.

“She’s just one of those women who doesn’t like other women very much,” my marido explained.

I hated those kinds of women. He squeezed my hand on our way down the stairs of his apartment on our way to eat. We always went out to eat those days. I could see the spring light shining through the large glass-front apartment door. Everything was shiny, new, and bright then, except for this one thing; this relationship with my cuñada.

I was pretty much the opposite of my cuñada. I was American-born, raised by women, had been in a band with women, and was about to start attending Mills College, a private women’s college in Oakland. I defaulted to hating or distrusting men and liking women, feeling a kinship through our shared inequality in a male-dominated world. But for months and months, maybe years, when I’d see her, my cuñada would attempt a smile and say, “Hola, Morena,” her lip sneering as it rolled over the ‘r’ in my family nickname, Morena. 

Still, I had vowed to not default to hate her just because she was a woman who didn’t get along with women, or because she was my sister-in-law.

I wasn’t going to compete with her or play into the catty-woman stereotype, and I was going to be kind and compassionate to her no matter what.

She made this very difficult.

When we first met, my cuñada had been living in the US for three years already, but she spoke very little English. I was surprised by how little English she spoke. She was surprised that I spoke very little Spanish.

“Hay muchos Mexicanos que no pueden hablar español.”

She said it a few months after my marido and I were married. She said it not to me, but to a friend who was bilingual, perhaps thinking that I wouldn’t understand her.  Then she said it again to another friend. I took a deep breath and reminded myself that I promised not to participate in the catty-woman stuff or be passive-aggressive or hate a family member. I made myself another promise – to be kind and compassionate no matter what, but not to take her shit either.

I knew, though, that this one slight was so personal that it was going to be hard to forgive.

My marido got into bed first that night. I put on my nightgown, and sat down on my side.

“Hey, you need to have a talk with her sister ‘cause if you don’t do it. I’m going to have to do it.”

He looked up. “About what?”

“About what she said.”

“What did she say?”

I put my hand on my hip and did my best imitation, “Hay muchos Mexicanos que no pueden hablar español.”

“Oh, that.” He made a face.

“You better talk to her because if I have to do it, by the time I’m finished with her, she will be so embarrassed that she has been in the US for three years and doesn’t speak English that she will never want to speak it. That’s what’s going to happen.”

It wasn’t my finest moment.

“Okay,” he said, “I’ll talk to her.”

He never told me how the talk went, and I never asked because I didn’t need the argüende and because she never said it again. Within a year, she made us the padrinos of her first born, but I knew that I was only the madrina because I was la esposa de su hermano.

Photo provided by Michelle Cruz Gonzales

I still get a flash of anger when I think about her “hay muchos Mexicanos” comment, or the time she wouldn’t get out of the car to come and see our new house, or all the times I saw her roll her eyes and sneer at me, but I’m older than she is, and committed to supporting women, so I just waited her out. I took my ajihada on weekends to give my cuñados a break, made sure to remember my cuñadas birthday, participated in their extended family’s parties, even when I didn’t want to, and tried to forgive and not hold it against her when they had to miss our son’s birthday parties, prioritizing her marido’s large family’s numerous gatherings over ours.

Slowly but surely over the years, the ice began to thaw between us. My warmth, no matter how awkward and forced, combined with time and maturity, on all our parts, has allowed something new to develop, something real. And it’s good that I worked hard not to hold grudges and forgave what I perceived as slights because learning to forgive is good for our health. It can lower blood pressure, risk of heart attacks, cholesterol, and forgiveness can help improve sleep.

“Hi, Morena,” she smiles when she sees me now (which seems like all the time), and hugs me tight, and dumps a pile of food she brought, leftovers from the Philipino restaurant where she works, or un bote de frijoles that she made at her place and brought with her, a whole packet of corn tortillas, the family-size packet, and cans of soda in any flavor anyone in the house might drink. The other night she brought me a bottle of my favorite wine, and I shared it with her because that’s what cuñadas do. That’s what we’re supposed to do.

A Father And Daughter Were Separated By U.S. Immigration Only To Reunite On Her Deathbed

Things That Matter

A Father And Daughter Were Separated By U.S. Immigration Only To Reunite On Her Deathbed

Adhy Savala / Unsplash

It is with unrelenting sadness that we report the death of Heydi Gámez García, 13, who took her life after her father’s asylum request was denied for the third time. Heydi’s father, Manuel Gámez, sent her to the U.S. after his father was gunned down by MS-13 for refusing to pay a “war tax” to the gang. He didn’t expect that Heydi would be granted asylum, but that he would be deported.

Manuel certainly didn’t envision that his goodbye hug and kiss four years ago would be the last time he would hug and kiss his daughter while she was still alive.

The Gámaz family was broken by MS-13 and failed again by the U.S. immigration system.

Credit: @amy_baker22 / Twitter

Heydi’s mother walked out on her and her dad when she was less than two months old. By the time Heydi was a year old, Manuel left for New York as an undocumented immigrant to make money to send back home. After his father was killed by MS-13, and his mother’s health started failing, he worried about who would care for Heydi and his younger sister, Zoila.

Manuel’s sister was granted asylum and cared for Heydi in his absence in New York.

Credit: @holliewolfen / Twitter

A year after his father’s death, he sent Heydi, Zoila and his brother to the U.S. Heydi and Zoila were granted asylum. Heydi learned English within a year and started teaching her father, via phone calls, how to correctly pronounce English words. They spoke every day, always asking when he’d come.

After two failed attempts to gain asylum, Heydi lost hope for being reunited and started cutting herself.

Credit: @holliewolfen / Twitter

He never wanted to make promises he couldn’t keep, like being there for her quinceañera. Heydi watched her classmates complain about their parents’ visiting their school and fell into a depression. In December, she was brought to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation after cutting her wrist at school. She was seeing a therapist until two months before her suicide.

“Please forgive me for failing you,” Manuel wants to tell his daughter.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t be there… I never meant to leave you,” he says to her. Heydi was Manuel’s only child. Heydi’s aunt is coping with impossible guilt. She told CNN, “I was supposed to be protecting her. I would never send her to Honduras. But I never thought something bad would happen to her here.”

Manuel was released on a two week ‘humanitarian’ visit to release Heydi from life support.

Credit: @holliewolfen / Twitter

He finally got to hold her hand and comfort her as she left this life behind. “We love you,” he whispered to her. “Don’t leave us.”

The last thing Heydi told anyone was that she lost hope in being reunited with her father.

Credit: @MaryJaneKnows / Twitter

She was crying as she told her aunt that she feels hopeless and that one day, she’ll become a lawyer to help her dad’s case. She then said she wanted to be alone and was found two hours later in a closet. She didn’t leave a note.

She was declared brain dead a week later at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in Queens.

Dr. Charles Schleien told CNN that she was in a “neurologically devastated state” upon arrival with “no hope for recovery.” He went on to disclose that the Gámaz family “chose to turn tragedy into the gift of life. Heydi is an organ donor and her final act will be to save others.”

The mental health impacts of family separation at our borders can only be told one story at a time.

Credit: @apbenven / Twitter

It is the only empathic way to relate to the emotional scars of our community. Every story is important. Every life lost to policies that don’t incorporate the most visceral human desires, like growing up with your father by your side, is one life too many. 

What on earth are we doing?

Credit: @JoeGould50 / Twitter

How can anyone go about business as usual? How do we humanize brown-skinned people to every voter and decision-maker? The only way we know how is to continually voice your concerns to your representatives and create space for these stories. Don’t look away. The grief of the Gámaz family is all of our grief. 

A Manuel, you did not fail your daughter. We all did. We are so sorry.

[Video] A Venezuelan Woman Is Sharing The Story Of Her Mother’s Tragic Death Through A Magically Hypnotic And Dark Act

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[Video] A Venezuelan Woman Is Sharing The Story Of Her Mother’s Tragic Death Through A Magically Hypnotic And Dark Act

daniadiaz.com

Women are magic — particularly Dania Díaz, who brought judges and audience members of “Spain’s Got Talent” to their feet with her entrancing card tricks that also told a heart-rending story.

The Venezuelan native, who had only been living in Spain for a few months before auditioning for the talent show, captivated viewers everywhere. The 28-year-old cleverly shared her story, from being a child in South America who lost her mother, to first discovering and falling in love with magic, to leaving her beloved country in the midst of a crisis to follow her dreams, through a deck of cards, wowing the audience, and at times bringing them to tears, with her incredible presentation.

Díaz shared her story of heart-ache through a magic trick on “Spain’s Got Talent.”

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Lo que hace esta chica emociona a todos! 😱😍

Posted by Lo Mejor De La Red on Wednesday, January 9, 2019

“I’m Dania, I’m a magician and I’m from Venezuela,” she says in Spanish while starting her show shuffling cards. 

“Venezuela is a very big country with more than 30 million inhabitants. 31,529,000 to be precise,” enthralling the previously confused audience as she lays out the cards 3,1, 5, 2 and 9.

Díaz, who continues to wow as she describes Venezuela’s sizable waterfalls through her deck, then begins to share her story. She has two brothers, Daniel and Leo, and was raised in a single-parent home.

“My mother was the queen of the house,” she says, pulling out a queen, “and my father, my father was not very present. In fact, I was happy to see him three or four times a month,” sliding his king card away from the queen.

But that’s not the saddest part of Díaz’s story. The magician reveals that at age 10, her mother suddenly and unexpectedly passed away.

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No solo me vine a reencontrar con mis personas favoritas en esta ciudad, sino que #Venezuela me sigue regalando amigos 🇻🇪 En 2018 conocí a #PattyCardozo una #GuaraEnEspaña, ella me seguía desde mucho antes de migrar a España y yo empecé a hacerlo justo cuando llegué, un día lleno de dudas me senté con ella y creo que fui uno de los tantos venezolanos que han hecho sesión con ella, admiro su proyecto de migracoaching porque atiende el tema emocional, pues no se trata de meter cosas en la maleta, sino de meter tu vida y tus afectos, apenas regresé coincidimos, y como si fueramos amigos de años, sin planificarlo mucho, todo se dio para volver a reirnos juntos. No se pierdan su proyecto en 👉🏼 @patty_cardozo 👜 En 2018 también conocí el talento de #DaniaDiaz que como muchos supimos de ella cuando se viralizó su participación en #SpainGotTalent, era #LaMagaVenezolana que nos sacó una lagrimita de alegría con su destreza en las cartas, con ese momentazo se ganó un lugar en mi #ConteoLos100Del2018 e incluso pasó a la segunda ronda del Top 25 elegido por el público. Llena de proyectos, esta lista para llenar a España con su magia, y si #DePuntoFijoPalMundo, no le pierdan pista como @daniadiaz1 ♣️ Que felicidad verlas emprendiendo, ellas como muchas más, demuestran que las mujeres venezolanas siempre resuelven, aquí nadie quiere que le regalen nada, solo necesitamos la oportunidad de demostrar lo que somos 👊🏼 #VenezolanosEnMadrid #AhoraQuienBajaALaSraDeAhi #ApreciationPostAlTumbaoDeDania

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“Our lives were never the same again. Mine took a 180-degree turn. I think of her 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” she said, effortlessly drawing those numbers from her deck as she spoke.

It wasn’t until the-then child discovered magic that she found happiness again. One day, while watching television,  she saw a magician appear on a program. “My heart jumped for joy. I had fallen in love,” she said, tugging a hearts. 

Díaz has been a practicing magician for the last eight years. She immigrated to Spain, like many who leave Latin America, for an opportunity to fully realize her dreams.

“I came to Spain in search of a future, a future that in my country I could not have anymore. And even though I knew that many things awaited me along the way, what I did not expect was to fall in love: to love its culture, its food, and its people,” she said, flipping her cards to suddenly reveal words and images that illustrated what she was sharing.

The illusionist, who prompted laughter from the astonished crowd when she shared the two countries’ different vernacular, ended her demonstration with some inspiration.

“Despite all these differences, there is something we have in common, and that is that everyone in the world is in search for a dream,” she said, flipping cards to reveal related hand-drawn images. “No matter how chaotic your life is at this moment, I invite you to have a little patience, because little by little your life will take order, everything will have a meaning. I’m telling you, this story has taken me here.”

Díaz’s show left both the audience and some judges in tears. They all stood up in applause chanting “golden pass, golden pass.” She did, indeed, receive the pass and was sent into the semifinal of the auditions.

The performer, who now has more than 110 thousand followers on Instagram, is known around Latin America for her charismatic story-telling magic. In addition to her starlight audition, she has won awards, like the FLASOMA prize, given to her by the Latin American Federation of Magical Societies, as well as rewards from Chile, Colombia, Venezuela and the National Congress of Spain.

Díaz, who has performed in 11 countries, travels the world, bringing astonishment to thousands through her feel-good tricks. 

And she has shown for everyone. According to Díaz’s website, she does performances for families, which includes an interactive experience mixing magic, music, and stories that inspire viewers to laugh and dream; for adults, where she reads minds and swallows balloons; and even for business settings, which could be catered to the mission of the corporations. 

For those magic-lovers who are unable to see her live, Díaz also shows some of her mind-boggling tricks on her YouTube channel and on Instagram.

In one of her latest stunts, she takes on the viral bottle cap challenge, removing the top of a bottle without ever touching its lid. In another, she makes a wildly big coin appear, disappear and reappear in her hand.

After watching her magical short clips, you’ll understand why hundreds of thousands of people from across the world are stunned by the Venezuelan maga.

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