Carla Garcia – Davie, Fl
Ms. Garcia wrote a winning essay for the 2015 Ayo and Iken Scholarship. The purpose of our scholarship is to recognize families that overcame the difficulties presented by a divided household. As custody and divorce attorneys we routinely see parents acting in destructive ways to their children. We applaud examples such as this and sincerely hope it can provide a positive example to other families. We also express appreciation to Ms. Garcia for sharing her story and wish her success in college.
When people think of the word “divorce” the first thing that comes to mind is heartbreak and misery. To me that word simply means happiness and a chance for a new beginning. There is a quote by Jennifer Weiner that states “Divorce isn’t such a tragedy. A tragedy’s staying in an unhappy marriage, teaching your children the wrong things about love. Nobody ever died of divorce”. This quote speaks to me on so many levels because it perfectly describes my parent’s divorce and my views on marriage.
It has been three years since my parents, Arely Amaya and Ricardo Garcia, have divorced each other and I remember it like it was just yesterday. The start of a new school year was just around the corner, and my siblings and I were all preparing our backpacks with anticipation. At the time of the divorce I was only 15 years old and about to enter 10th grade, my sister was 14 and entering 9th grade, my little brother was 8 years old and staring 2nd grade and my littlest sister was only 4 years old. I remember the days leading up to the divorce in July 2012 and how my parents were always arguing over the simplest things and never seemed to be on the same page. The atmosphere in our house was permanently dreary and somber, or so we thought.
My parents sat us all down and explained to us that things were going to change in our house. They told us that they no longer could be together because they just couldn’t see eye to eye any longer and that right now the best thing for this family was if they divorced. There were different reactions across the table, my sister and I both started crying immediately and my little brother and sister both just stared at my parents confused and unaware of what the word divorce meant. Once we explained to them what it meant they too joined us in our hysterical and uncontrollable crying. We all begged and pleaded them to stay together but it was useless they had made up their minds long ago. At that time the only thing that kept running through my mind was “Oh my gosh! I am never going to see my dad ever again! Will they still talk or be friends? Who am I going to live with? Why did this have to happen?” but my parents quickly put my thoughts at ease. They told us all that we could all still go out as a family and that we can visit my dad whenever we wanted and that no matter what they both loved each one of us so much and will always be there for us.
The month following the divorce my dad decided to move to Texas in search for a better job opportunity and my siblings and I all stayed with my mom in Florida. At first the idea of him moving hundreds of miles away upset us all because we thought that meant we wouldn’t be able to see our dad as often. But, the more my dad talked about it the more fond we became of the idea. We kept thinking how amazing and exciting it would be to visit a new state during the summer and holidays. To make the transition easier, our parents agreed to take us all on a road trip just before school started to help my dad move.
Soon after his transition into his “new life” my dad fell into a depression and started to pick up drinking. He would call my sister and me and ask us what my mom was up to and how she did this and that. We had no idea what to do and of course like the emotional teenage girls we were, we started crying and begging our mother to get back together with him. My mother, being the amazing mother she is, would lay with us for hours soothing both of us and telling us that everything will be okay. She never missed a chance to tell us that our dad loved us all so much and that it is not really him saying all those mean and jealous driven remarks about her. My mother told us to give him time and to try to understand him because it is not an easy task leaving your children to make a better living for them.
Sure enough, two months later my father was back to being the loving man we all grew up knowing. He would call us any chance he had and even started coming down to Florida more often just so that he can see us more. During the summer my siblings and I would all hop in the car and take a road trip up to Texas. My mom never denied my dad the pleasure of taking us to his home state and she would even go up on his birthday with us to surprise him.
Even though we don’t all live in the same household my parents always maintained close contact and would talk about how we are doing to school and ensure we always had school supplies and new clothes every school year.
The next big obstacle we all had to face was when my mom remarried. My parents come from a small country in Central America known as El Salvador and my mom likes to go visit once in a while because my grandparents currently still reside there. Well it turns out that during one of these trips she met up with a childhood sweet heart and was instantly head over heels. She soon married him without us even knowing this man’s name.
Being such a small country news travels fast and soon my dad knew about my mother’s marriage even though he was thousands of miles away from El Salvador. My dad believe we all had a right to know so he told us all and of course we were all heartbroken especially me and my sister. We just couldn’t get over how hurt we were that our mother remarried and didn’t even gave us a heads up about it.
Since my sister and I are only a year apart we always have each other’s backs no matter what and in this situation we both started to act cruelly towards my mother. We started misbehaving and wouldn’t listen to anything she said, even after she told us herself she got remarried. We just wanted nothing to do with her and were both contemplating on moving to Texas with our dad. We spent hours crying and at loss for words and couldn’t understand why our mother didn’t trust us enough to let us in on her little secret. I think the main reason the news that my mother had remarried had hurt us so much was because deep down my sister and I never lost hope that one day, when the time was right, our parents would get back together. We were both still so young and had no idea what love was and we confused the signs of friendship between our parents as something more.
While this was all happening my father never stopped trying to comfort us and telling us that everything will be okay. Now it was his turn to be there for us and remind us exactly how much our mother loved us and how we need to try to understand her and be happy for her. As the days passed by, those hurt feelings slowly started fading away and we started to accept the fact that my mother was still young and should find happiness even if it wasn’t with my dad. We started spending more time with my mom and even apologized for the way we had behaved with her and that is all thanks to my dad.
Ever since my mother remarried she has been trying to bring her husband into the United States and of course that is quite expensive. She wasted so much money trying to bring him into the country but still no luck. Still my dad never stopped sending us even more money and has never questioned my mother on whether or not she uses it on us.
In 2014, two years after my parents divorced my mother was laid off her job. My mother was hysterical and so worried because she had no idea how we were going to manage to sustain ourselves and pay the bills without her income. She also couldn’t believe the amount of money she has wasted trying to bring her new husband into the country. Since the divorce my dad has been on child support but once he discovered that my mother was laid off he quickly stepped up and offered to send even more money to pay the bills. So my father was and still is to this day the main source of income we have. He not only pays his own rent, electricity and water bills back in Texas but he also sends extra money so that we can pay and maintain the bills up to date ourselves. I feel like this brave and bold move by my father has really brought my parents closer since the divorce. They both understand the importance to put their children above any other issue and that it is crucial for my siblings and me to get an education and succeed in life so that we don’t have to go through what they are going through. They both keep us all motivated and show us so much love and those days of constant bickering and fighting are long gone in our house.
Being that I am the oldest and am about to graduate high school and embark on a new journey, college, my parents have been extra supporting. They both are on top of me and constantly reminding me about scholarships and making sure I have every document I need to apply for college at my disposal. The thought that one of their children is finally leaving the nest has made them forget all the hardships and arguments they once shared. Not to mention that my little brother is also graduating but from the fifth grade. My mom has invited my dad to visit so often now and they are constantly on the phone discussing the future and how they plan on moving closer to my school. My parents have been there for me every step of the way on the road to college and never fail to remind me how proud they are of me.
Things have definitely not been easy these past three years but we managed to get through it as a family. We have all been through the ringer, including my youngest two siblings, but we learned that everything gets better and works out for the best even if it takes some time sometimes. Now that I am older, I understand why my parents divorced in the first place. The love they have for their children is so strong that they just didn’t want us to suffer any longer because of personal problems they were having. I have learned that when two people are constantly arguing that it is just better to go their separate ways.
My parent’s divorce has really opened my eyes and showed me exactly how much they care for our wellbeing. I am beyond grateful to be there oldest daughter and the first one to go to college because it has just brought them even closer because they both have a common worry now, me. I can honestly say that my parent’s divorce has made me a stronger person and taught me that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. I hope to continue making them proud with all that I will accomplish in college and hope to one day repay them for all they have done for my siblings and I.