With College Across the Horizon

Hope, my little sister, you never fail to bring me laughter. When we hug you squeeze the fat in my arms in your tiny palms. 

Faith, my older sister, I owe my maturity to you. I wanted my pin straight hair to match your curly hair because it always gave me a sense of comfort. When we were little we would play out in the courtyard, pick the mysterious red berries from the trees and eat them. 

Mom, thank you for cutting me fruits when I was hungry in the evening. I see the way you work hard to provide many things for me, and I appreciate all that you have done. Even though I don't share the same religious values, you have taught me that prayer is a precious time for family. During our Monday prayer, you guide my fingers, teaching me which beads to hold. When I'm lost I turn to your hands for guidance. 

Dad, you are always absorbed in television but I find it comforting to watch your shows with you. You carry us over the road safely in our travels. You will be driving me off to college and I imagine myself watching the road with you. It was hardest to convince you to let me go to college out of state, but you were the one who named me Dawn. 

Dawn, the beginning of our family’s lives here in the United States. I embody the hopes that you held when you left your home in the Philippines, and now it is my turn to leave. 

Thank you for everything. I will come back home soon.

3:00 PM is a special time. Sunlight seeps through the blinds, painting golden patterns throughout our home in the South Bronx. Despite the uncertainties that exist beyond this sacred time, I am comforted by the sun's warmth on my skin and my little sister's embrace. January 2021.

Every Monday my family gathers in the living room to pray, each holding a rosary in our hands. My mother taught me which beads to hold in certain parts of the prayer. When I’m lost, I turn to her hands for guidance. May 2021.

My favorite place in the house is the living room window. I like to immerse myself in the greenery of houseplants and in the trees out in the community courtyard in the South Bronx. May 2021.

People tell me I look the most like my father, from our pointed nose and straight eyelashes to the shared beauty mark on our left temples. May 2021.

This tree in the courtyard was my giving tree. I'd climb this tree with my older sister and eat its red-colored blueberries, unsure if it was meant to be eaten. Yet I can remember its sweet flavor and the fun times spent with my sister clearly. April 2021.

The sister tree that neighbored my giving tree was recently cut. Our childhoods have ended but I am grateful for the memories we share. April 2021.

As the eldest sister, Faith provides comfort for Hope as she had for me. The experiences we shared when we were younger live on as we create them with Hope. May 2021.

On road trips that span hours long, my father stares blankly at the road in silence. His attention to the road reflects the protection he provides us with. May 2021.

Physical touch is our love language. Without a word shared between us, we feel love and comfort from being close. May 2021.

My mother carefully peels the skin off the kiwi as she prepares a late-night snack for my sisters and me. Though tedious, she completes this task to provide our hungry bellies with sweetness and love. May 2021.

These fridge magnets display where we have traveled as a family, from planned vacations to random getaways. My next destination at Mount Holyoke College stands clear, and I am ready to embark on my new journey. April 2021.

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