I vividly recall the morning of September 11, 2001. I was up exceptionally early, working on a knitting project of some sort. My husband was thousands of miles south of the US border in his homeland, Chile. Our whole life had recently been turned upside down in the process of moving back to the States. During our nearly 4 years living in southern Chile, my husband’s visa had expired. Now, it would cost a lot of money and trips back and forth to reestablish his residency once more in the United States.

Josie was 4 and a half years old, and her little brother, Julian, was soon to be 2. That devastating September day would send anger, fear, sadness, and grief across our beloved country. Airports everywhere were at a stand-still. I remember being so terrified at the thought of having my husband so far away. It would be just a month and a half before I was scheduled to return to Chile, and go through the US embassy there on his behalf.

Like countless others during that time, traveling was suddenly cause for great anxiety. To make matters worse, I would only be traveling with my youngest—leaving Josie behind with her grandparents and aunt here in Colorado. We simply could not afford to travel her back for the month I needed to set things in order for her father’s return. 

Saying good-bye to my precious baby girl the morning of our journey was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life—even now… We had never been separated for more than a few short days, and that was when I was expecting her baby brother. We were inseparable, so to speak. I felt like I was betraying her, and with tears in my eyes, vowed to return as quickly as possible. She was notably distressed, but did not say a word—other than that she loved me too, as she gazed into my eyes, searching for confirmation that I would indeed return for her. Oh, how I cried…

When the time came to present the required applications at the US embassy in Santiago, Chile, I could not restrain my tears as I pleaded my case before the consular. She sensed my pain and urgency to return to the US because of the little one I had to leave behind. My husband’s case was expedited… To this day, I am so thankful for that woman’s sensitivity.

It would still be another two months before my husband was able to travel back, but a month for me and my son. When we arrived back in Colorado, my little girl that was a Spanish speaker only, had suddenly become an “English only” speaker!!! I was amazed, and thrilled, and sad all at the same time. It would be awhile before she decided she wanted to speak Spanish again—as in, at least another month until her father could rejoin us as well!

Thinking back, it was a troublesome time for our little family of four, but it was also a terrible time for our nation as well. My greatest fears have become a reality, as I no longer have the luxury of my baby girl to hold in my arms—nor can I ever even hope to again in this life. That baby boy is now a man—off serving his country faithfully as a United States Marine. I pray to God that he will be protected, and returned home safely. In memory of all who never made it home… We will hold you forever in our hearts, until we meet again.

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