In 1980 my mother came to the US via the Mariel boatlift, where boats carrying thousands of Cubans fleeing the grips of Castro made their way to the US from the Mariel harbor. Her successful arrival in Florida officially made her a “marielita” refugee. She was twenty-five years old and unfamiliar with the language and eventually processed by the US government as Lucia Rosas. Too afraid to speak up for herself and the error made in her name, Rosas became her official surname. The addition of the “s” to the end of her last name literally transformed her identity. She was in a new place and now with a new name. Life as she knew it had forever changed.
By the time my mom was twenty-one, she had four boys under the age of five. Only one of those boys made their way to the US with her. I do not know all the details behind what prompted this escape without all her children in tow. I mean, even as her daughter, the first thing that comes to my mind is “how could she leave her little ones behind?”. What I do, however know, is that my mother has suffered and still suffers serious trauma because of this decision.
Fast forward four years, living the fast life for money and having officially left her first born and only son remaining with her to be raised by his grandmother, my mother was pregnant again. Now here comes my very critical side into play again- why would someone who has failed at being a mother four times over, be blessed with yet another opportunity at motherhood?
The only answer that comes to mind. The answer that satisfies my soul. The answer that makes me love my mother forevermore is that: God is a God of grace and redemption.
So here she is twenty-nine years old now, living in Miami and praying to Santa Barbara that if she would send her a girl this time around, she would pay homage to her by naming her little girl Barbara. And so, begins my story, the story of Barbara Rosas.