Unfortunately, illness and death are part of life. Our clients are faced with impossible situations when they have pending paperwork here in the US and a dying relative in another country. For many clients, they’re unable to go home and return because of their immigration status. It breaks my heart every time we have to tell someone that they can’t travel to visit a loved one in the hospital or that they can’t go to a funeral.

This past week, I’ve been faced with the sudden loss of my grandmother, Mary. I was able to travel to be with my mom and sister and to mourn together this weekend – sharing stories about how much she loved us, about how sudden everything was, but also about the joy we have in knowing she’s reunited with my grandpa, her sisters and some of her very best friends. I can’t imagine processing all of this on my own. I needed those hugs and to talk about how much she meant to me with people who understood the pain. Grandma was like a second mother to me and she was the personification of selflessness and unconditional love. I know I was blessed to have her for almost 43 years…some people don’t get to know their grandparents at all, but she was such an important part of my life.

Every time you call us (678-713-4255), there’s a little bit of my grandma there. Our number was a Google number originally and when I chose it, I chose 713 because her birthday is July 13th. It was my little way to honor her and her support for me and my dreams.

This all brings home the cruelty of our immigration system more. How many of our clients aren’t able to get hugs or say goodbye? I’ve always hated telling clients no, but from today forward, when I say no to traveling for a death, it’s going to remind me of my loss and how much I needed my family in the moment. How is it that I’m fortunate enough to be with my family while my clients, who are doing everything right, are denied this comfort? There has to be a better way. In the meantime, though, I’m sending virtual hugs to everyone enduring loss and separation right now.

-Tracie