After much delay, here we have the 2nd interview in my project voices series.
Diana* has been living in the U.S. for 15 years now. Her life here starts a little like a love story.
She was living in Mexico with an aunt and had been dating Ramon* mostly through correspondence. He left to work in the United States and promised he would come back to marry her. Shortly after they were married Ramon told Diana that they would be able to provide better for their future children if they both moved to the U.S.
So at 21 years old Diana decided to leave Mexico and follow Ramon so she could fulfill the dream of starting her family.
After arriving Diana looked for work wherever she could. She first took a job taking care of children. Afterwards she landed a job at a big factory in the area. She worked as a temp and was offered full time on 3rd shift. However Ramon had moved them to another city, and he could only drop Diana off at work if she worked on 1st due to his schedule. Diana didn’t know how to drive and she didn’t have a way of getting to work for that shift so she had to refuse the full time offer. She toggled between taking care of children and working as a temp at the factory for 2 years and then became pregnant with her first born. Since Diana didn’t have anyone to watch her son while she worked it was decided she would stay home to raise the child. A few years later Ramon and Diana were blessed with a second son. Their life plan seemed to be coming together pretty well but then life decided to give Diana a different path.
Ramon wanted to divorce Diana.
Without Ramon, Diana didn’t have a home in Michigan. So Diana decided to move to Texas with her brothers and sisters to find work, get settled and have her sons join her after a few weeks.
Going to Texas, Diana thought it would be better for her because she would have the support from her family. She quickly found out that her family couldn’t help her as much as she had hoped. During this time in the 2007-2009 era the economy took a turn for the worst and companies were especially strict in their hiring practices. Everyone wanted thorough checks on the validity of a person’s documentation. If it was hard for citizens to find work, undocumented individuals were having a much more difficult time. Many of her family members were out of work as well, and some Diana says turned their back on her entirely.
Diana was facing a divorce, moved to a new city, was essentially alone, without a place to live, and looking to join a workforce after years of being out of it. She said the toll of the events brought her into a depression. But she had to persevere through it because she couldn’t receive her boys with empty arms.
Diana held a few different jobs, the first was on a food truck where she worked 8 hours straight without a break. Diana says she was paid $4.37 an hour. She also worked for a short time at a cleaning agency from 6am to 8pm. On payday the woman from the agency wouldn’t answer Diana’s phone calls and was never paid.
Diana then worked at a warehouse sorting clothes. The warehouse was hot and the hours were long. One of Diana’s co workers let her in on their secret to keeping up with the work load. Another co worker sold a pill that would give them enough energy to make it through each day. If she wanted to make it there she suggested Diana meet her. Diana had a gut feeling to not go meet with the woman.
After a few weeks Diana’s sons moved to Texas but after about a month Diana decided it would be best for her family to go back to Michigan.
Once back, Diana wasn’t feeling well and went to see a doctor. The doctor didn’t have good news. She found that Diana had anemia and had a tumor in her uterus. The doctor wasn’t sure if it was malignant but knew it was growing. Diana would have to go to the neighboring city for more studies and eventually a surgery.
During this same period Diana had received a letter from Ramon’s insurance. The divorce had officially been filed and in December her coverage would be up. The doctor, aware of the coverage deadline tried to speed up the process as quickly as she could. Diana’s first appointment with the specialist fell during her shift on her first day at work at her new job. Because they were on a tight timeline the specialist couldn’t move the appointment. Diana says all she could do was pray that something would work out. She got a call from her job that her start date would be delayed by a week.
Then the specialists ordered to get an MRI for Diana on the same day she started work. She went in for the MRI at 6am and had to be at work by 8am. Barely having shaken off the dizziness from the test she went to work right after. Diana eventually had the tumor removed and it was found to be benign. However she lost her ability to have kids in the future.
Diana says one of the hardest things during this period was when her mother passed away. Because Diana isn’t in the country legally she couldn’t go back to Mexico for the funeral.
However out of everything Diana thinks something good came of it.
Diana needed a ride to the hospital for her appointments before and after the surgery. She sought out help from the church she had been attending. There she met the man who Diana calls an angel in her path. The man who helped her was a retired American man.
Once Diana healed from her operation she prepared a traditional Mexican meal and invited her angel and his wife over to celebrate. He admitted to Diana that he used to think Hispanics came to take American jobs away and to cause problems. Thanks to Diana he had a change of heart, he believes Hispanics want to provide a better life for their family.
He’s now told his hair stylist, vet and any friend that would listen about his change in heart. On Mothers Day they all contributed to gifting Diana a fridge that to this day she still uses.
*names have been changed