You were in our home for all of twelve hours. You were jet-lagged, disheveled, and still unpacked. Yet, instead of pulling clothing and toiletries out of your suitcases to place upon the shelves of your rooms, Silvia drew out a book entitled Fotos de España for us and jump ropes for each of the girls. Carlos retrieved a balloon air pump and engaged the girls in Spanish conversations: “¿un flor o una mariposa?” And what did you say to us? “When you come to Spain, you will see the children playing these games.” “When you come to Spain, you will see the beautiful palaces from these photos.” “When you come to Spain, you will fall in love with the people.”
Before you were here long, even the youngest, shyest daughter was requesting her balloon, was sitting on Silvia’s lap. I knew that magic had just entered our lives. I wanted to shout from the rooftops, announce to the world, the happiness that seeped from every blood vessel of my heart. It was like a dream, one that could not be defined, but that slips between your subconscious and conscious, shaking you awake with an ever-present smile.
And so our adventure began. Carlos with your infectious humor, describing every life situation with laughter and joy. “And the DMV lady said to me, ‘Are you black or white?’ I had never been asked such a thing, so I turned to her and replied, ‘I don’t know—you tell me.’” “We missed our flight and Thanksgiving Dos. Tomorrow we can have Thanksgiving Tres instead!” “Uh… and how many drinks did Bruce have before he said THOSE words to you?” “Yes, that one… weighs more than me. In first grade.”
And Silvia with your reserved, down-to-earth nature, popping in your bits of advice and no-nonsense approach to life. Silvia, the caretaker who Riona craves to cuddle with (and proudly announces to me on the side, “Mama, did you know that Silvia can read books in Spanish AND English?”). Silvia, whose detailed descriptions of the class from hell bring both empathy and amazement to all ears. Whose love for your family surpasses all, your childhood shenanigans so filled with happiness you feel you can hear all your aunties’ voices as they secretly stole children into rooms.
There is a reason we have come to call you our Spaniards. You are not like any people we have ever known. You are unique in a way that cannot be defined in any language. You are the inspiration and reason for us packing up our family of five and moving them to your home country. Your presence in our lives cannot be replaced, and you will be greatly missed.
You were in our home for all of twelve hours. Telling us we would fall in love with the people in Spain. Well, we had already fallen in love, before ever stepping on a plane, before seeing the palaces from your book, before tasting the Mediterranean air. We had fallen in love with the people who would fill our home with life for eleven months, who won us over before unpacking a single suitcase.