Sergio Cilla is introducing Tales of the Chesapeake, a collection of short stories that will certainly lead to reflection. Today, All That Matters, and life lessons on how to deal with one’s decisions.
All That Matters
Itzel said a few incomprehensible words and then fainted on the arms of the paramedic. She and her husband were rushed to the hospital in different ambulances.
She was going to work that morning, as many others, and her husband drove her to work, drunk, as many other mornings. Itzel could not understand how he was drunk that early, but she would not ask. She was exhausted of quarrelling with him. She was exhausted of so many other things, but she felt she had no way out.
One morning, when the owner of the farm in Cecilton where Itzel worked saw her car swerving on the road, she asked her: “Wouldn’t it be safer if you drove?” And Itzel explained that not only was she undocumented, but she did not have a driver’s license. And her boss added: “But you can get your test in Spanish, and it doesn’t matter if you are illegal.”
But Itzel did not know how to drive, or even read or write in Spanish. She could only speak a few words in Spanish and in English. But she knew how to speak in her own indigenous language; and she knew how work in the field, being one of the top performers in the farm; and she also knew how to cook, and clean her house, and raise her four children, all born in American soil. In addition, she did also know how to put up with all her husband’s ability not to work or help her whatsoever.
Her husband had been fired from a factory in Middletown, Delaware, and he had never been able to find a job again. He was wasted most of the time, and he used to say he drank because he missed his hometown in Guatemala, his people, his life back home.
Itzel woke up in a hospital bed. She looked around and saw nobody in the room. She started getting nervous, as she always did, thinking of how she was going to talk with the people there, or how they were going to pay for the hospital’s bills.
She suddenly remembered her mother’s words when she was a little girl: “If you don’t make your own decisions, life will make them for you,” and the door of her room suddenly opened.
“Your son is recovering well, but I am sorry to tell you that your husband did not survive the accident.” The voice of a doctor had muttered in an English Itzel was able to understand.
Itzel burst out crying when she noticed she had forgotten her “pequeño Alberto” was also in the car that morning.
And that was all that mattered, her little son was all right.