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I Left My Hope in Puerto Rico

That’s a catchy title, I think. Right now, I feel an odd combination of panic, sadness, and hope. You see, my mother lives in Puerto Rico. So does my father. My brother lives there, too, as do a myriad amount of aunts, uncles, and cousins.

My mom’s mountain home – and that of my aunts, uncles, and other cousins – have been devoid of electricity since Hurricane Maria hit back in late October of last year. Are they getting by? Yeah. They have generators that they use when they need to. Thankfully, the weather is temperate enough that heaters are not necessary. Water comes and goes.

However, they feel stripped and forgotten. It saddens me and depresses me greatly. Since Maria hit the island, Puerto Rico has changed. Historically, there will be Pre-Maria and Post-Maria.

Maybe you might be asking yourself why I don’t have my parents come and stay with me in the states. After all, my dad has four adult daughters living here, and my mom has two (my parents divorced when I was very young).

My older sister and I did have my mom come out here and stay with us for almost two months. She split her time between Chicago (where my sisters live), and in Pittsburgh, which is where I live. During her time here, my mom lived in houses with family, electricity, and running water. She also had to suffer through the cold, though, as her arthritis has afflicted her quite strongly. While she loved being with us, I think that she missed having her things – her car, her house, and her animals. She missed controlling her life. She would have stayed longer with us, but had to rush back to Puerto Rico, as one of her elder brothers had passed away.

My father and his wife choose not to leave my dad’s ancestral home in Puerto Rico. They have vegetables. They have a house that my dad spent lots of money on improving. Up until last week, they had electricity again. Thankfully, my dad still has his chickens, his cistern, and his sense of humor.

I haven’t been there since 2009. Yes, that is a long time. I feel that acutely. I want to go back and see them – my dad, my mom, my brother and my aunts and uncles. My parents ask that I wait, though. They are worried that I will be disappointed by the devastation. I have told them that as long as I see them and eat good food (and am not a burden to them), that I don’t care.

I don’t understand why they carry the weight of the responsibility over Hurricane Maria’s destruction.

The truth is that I am not apprised enough of the facts to know if America has done enough for Puerto Rico or not – media bias and all.

But one thing is for sure. I don’t know that America can save Puerto Rico, but I know that Americans have.

I am so proud to share citizenship with people who listen to their hearts and form their own opinions. I try to live that way, too.

I’ve seen beaches all over the world. This beach (Crash Boat Beach) – to me – is the single, most beautiful one.

I don’t know when I’ll get out there again. I hope that it is soon. I want to see what is. I want to see my immediate family members, and my extended ones, as life is fleeting.

This bridge literally bridges the easiest path between the towns from which both sides of my family come from.

You can’t see it, but I stood on a bridge while I took that picture. That bridge is now gone. From what I’ve been told, the river is larger now. My Taino Indian ancestors used to use this river. My mom and her siblings used to walk that bridge on their way to school, and back, every single day. The lack of the bridge is troubling, though. Folks who would visit each other every day probably no longer do so, as the road around this area takes quite a while to traverse. Will a division in distance equal a division in relationships? I pray not.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about my feelings on this. I hope that you think of Puerto Rico more often, too. And if you’ve helped, I thank you, too.

 

Cyndia Rios-Myers

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