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Tim, thank you for sharing the photo of Jose. He is beautiful. His smile. His eyes. His long fingers. A beautiful boy. With a book. His smile is in his eyes and so sincere. He looks truly happy. I am sure he was. This moment of joy caught forever: that is the Juan I can see. But like all of us Juan was so much more. Thank you for telling his story, a story he will never have the chance to tell. It was different than I thought, of course. I assumed he lived with all of you or had at some point. Now I know more.

I feel happy that he and Maria are part of your family, that she swung out on the rope and let go. And I smile reading that she laughed at your attempt at Mexican cooking. I am especially happy that Maria learned that her beautiful son was dying from AIDS from you. I wish she had never had to learn it, at all, because I wish that he had never become sick. I wish he and she were living together, eating dinner with their family, teaching you to cook Mexican, you still teaching Juan to read so he could go where ever he wished. I wish a lot of things that will never happen. I mean well.

Oh , hermosa María , mi corazón se siente su dolor. Lo siento mucho y deseo amor, el amor y la gran paz de curación. Eso no es suficiente, pero es todo lo que tengo.

I am sorry you had to tell her. But glad she heard it from someone who cared about her and Juan and for whom they both cared. It must have hurt you to tell her. Thank you. I can only imagine that you said it with great kindness and care.

María, que comparten un secreto: Tim Barrus es un buen hombre con un corazón amable y decente.

Your efforts to find medicine for him were heroic. I do not mean to make you angry or make too much if it. It should be something we all do. There is so much more to fight than trafficking, abuse and starvation. There are people dying every day in this country because we choose to close our eyes.

I suspect, because that is all I can do, that Maria was raped. Often. Jose loved her so much that he did anything he could to get her out of the camp. In the only country she remembers. I find him heroic, too. No boy should have to make such a choice.

That she is in a country she doesn’t remember, that she was arrested to be sent there on the day she buried her only son is beyond, beyond. I have been so angry since reading that, so angry that I am only now able to respond and still my anger interferes.

That ICE came dressed and armed like SWAT…undocumented migrant workers are known to be armed and dangerous because they spend all their invisible money on guns and ammunition rather than food or housing because, because: my tax dollars at work.

Here’s my vote: use my dollars to buy food and housing for the workers, medicine for the sick, and use none of it to buy guns and costumes for ICE.

Where is our compassion? Our humanity?America. What does that even mean, anymore? Evidently what it has always meant because Tuskegee continues with voiceless, sick children.

Encontrar su camino de regreso a su familia , María , a su hijo . No se desespere.

I think of another Maria whose son died before her eyes, who fled to another country to save his life. He healed and fed and accepted the unacceptable. He loved and forgave. Now his name is used to pervert everything he said.

Jesus wept.

I am not now or have I ever been Catholic but I might say a rosary for Maria, lost and more alone than I can ever be because I have no child to lose. And I live in the country I remember.

Dios te salve, Maria.
Llena eres de gracia:
El Seńor es contigo.
Bendita tú eres entre todas las mujeres.
Y bendito es el fruto de tu vientre:
Santa María, Madre de Dios,
ruega por nosotros pecadores,
ahora y en la hora de nuestra muerte.

I will ask Mary to ask her son to lead Maria safely back to her family and her son’s grave. And for medicine to become a right for everyone everywhere and never tested on kids, especially kids who can’t consent, who have no advocate.

Y bendito es el fruto de tu vientre, Maria: Juan.

Bendita tú eres, Maria.

I am very glad to know that this beautiful boy loved to read, to listen to Selena and that he loved to dance. That he was a friend. And had friends. And a fine and giving family in you all at Smash. You are kind to share his life with me.

He was happy on the rope swing, happy reading, happy with his mother and his family. He was happy. He was loved.

I am happy that, in effect, he danced with bare feet in the rain.

My poem doesn’t do justice to his life. I meant well. Thank you for letting me know his story.

Dios sea contigo, María . Regresar a su familia y su hijo. Nadie merece el dolor que siente . Yo llorar contigo. Por favor, encontrar su camino a casa .

Vaya con Dios, Maria.

Peace be with you, Tim and all the boys that Juan called “friend” and loved.

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