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Leaving Everything Behind and Living With A Void In Our Hearts

“We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.”

 Pascal Mercier

My earliest memories stretch back to when I lived in Pachuca, Hidalgo, Mexico. This was the beautiful city I was born in and raised until the age of 9. My childhood, for the most part, was filled with fun and happy memories. It was a time that I spent with family and friends either in school, home or at family gatherings. That was my life, one I embraced as a young girl.

My family and I lived in a small house that sat in one of the main streets in Pachuca. Our front yard was well maintained by my parents, full of roses, flowers and other beautiful plants that would brighten up our home. Our house had one bedroom, a living room split in half to accommodate another bed for my sister and me, and a kitchen. Even though it was small, it was all we needed because it was a home where there was love, laughter, connection…where we belonged.

Unfortunately, our financial situation pushed my family to seek something outside of our beloved home. The search for a better life was not easy. Needing something better meant it would take us away from what we knew, what we loved and what we were comfortable with.

My family prepared for a new journey, one that would force us to leave part of ourselves behind.

The Day We Left Home

This new journey was unlike any other, it was one where leaving everything behind was our only option. It wasn’t enough to just leave the city we knew so well…oh no! My family knew that our best option was to leave our country, our querido Mexico behind and migrate to the United States and unfortunately, not in the best, most accepted way.

My father began this journey on his own at first but a few months later, it was decided we would join him as well. At this time, my mom was left with the duty to prepare, physically, emotionally and mentally for the venture ahead.

My mom was instructed that all we would carry with us would be a small backpack each. I often think of what this might have been like for my mom. I mean, think about that….think about having to walk through the place that you have called home for years and only being able to choose just a few things. What would you pack? What are the most meaningful things that you could carry inside this bag? As a young girl, I did not understand the pain that came with this. Having to say goodbye to your home.

Nevertheless, we packed, we left our sweet home and made our way up north. Over the course of a month, we made our way across to the United States. At this point, there was no turning back as we were moving along with the future in mind.

Living With a Void

Living in a new place in a new country, with new people and a new language was hard. It was challenging being expected to assimilate to this new life and even though it was no simple task, my family and I accepted this as our new reality. Soon enough I started to enjoy my new home, school and friends. I did my best to adapt but deep down I knew there was something missing.

I sit and think about my life back in Mexico. Yes, I was pretty young but still have good memory of what life was like. The beauty of being with family, friends and of being in a place that brought joy and peace. I often wonder what my life would be like, my house, my friends…where are they now? Do they think of me? So many questions that I will never know the answers to. The reality is, we lose a part of us, a part of our being, a part of who we are.

Perhaps one of the hardest things to witness, is my parents’ suffering. I can see and feel the hurt they carry of missing their home, traditions, culture. Sure, we do our best to carry that on here but it will never replace the feeling and the “being” back at home. The family gatherings and celebrations that are missed or worse…funerals and not being able to say goodbye or have any closure because of the distance between here and our home. It’s a void, too real and too painful but one that we learn to live with.

Embrace Life

The reality is, our home, our people, our family will always hold a special place in our hearts. No matter the time and the distance, we will always exist in this place even if it’s only in our minds and hearts. While we accept and embrace where we are today, we will never forget what was left behind.

Living with a void
This is “I Viaggiatori” a sculpture by the artist Bruno Catalano, symbolizing the void created by leaving one’s country, one’s family, one’s people for another life.

Betzy Valdez

Betzy Valdez originally from Pachuca, Hidalgo, Mexico, came to the United States with her family 22 years ago, chasing the well-known “American Dream”. Greeley, Colorado is where her and her family have resided over the past 22 years and it’s a place, she calls home. She has been married for 11 years to her supportive husband Javi and together they have three beautiful little girls and an American Bully named Bella. She is also the founder of B. Empowered, a space created to encourage others to be the change, to be empowered to be the world-changers, the difference-makers, the heart-changers. Through Betzy’s own journey, she continues to be brave by sharing her story, her truths, her mess. Instead of allowing setbacks in her life to hold her back, she is determined to use her mess as her message of hope, strength and belonging. Her calling in life in to encourage and empower others in their own journey, regardless of color, race, religion, or legal status. She believes we must all have a vision, not division. Betzy plans to continue her journey as an empowerment and motivational speaker as well as an active community volunteer, leader and advocate for immigrant and refugee rights. She is extremely excited for this new opportunity and hopes to connect with others.

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