My three-year-old niece Emily is my favorite person. I provided care for her full-time from her birth until the age of two. Now we live hours and hours away from each other. I miss her. The time we do have together when we visit each other is time that I cherish beyond words. Emily loves My Little Ponies, just as my sister and I did when we were young. Pinkie Pie is Emily’s favorite, and she has this little cute hoodie she always wears that looks like Pinkie Pie.
Emily and my parents had just visited my husband and I last week and they left Thursday morning. When they left, she was wearing her Pinkie Pie hoodie, with her long, dark, loose curls flowing wild. I hugged her, choking back tears. I then got ready to start my day at BRC, preparing for our food service for the migrants.
Thursday was a busy day, as there was a need for BRC to assist with extra meals. So, our team split up into two different locations for delivery and serving. I arrived at my location and assisted with bringing the food in and setting up, but I could not stay to serve as I had to go to work at my part-time job as a drawing instructor at an elementary school. I had just said good-bye to my team and was making my way toward the door when I saw the Pinkie Pie hoodie. It was Emily. Long, dark, loose curls flowing wild. I froze, my heart leaping to my throat. She turned and I saw her little face, her complexion only slightly darker than Emily’s, her smile different. Her Pinkie Pie hoodie dirty and torn. She wasn’t Emily of course. But she was. She was, and she wasn’t. I smiled back at her, and then I quickly went through the exit and to my car. I could feel myself breaking.
I reached the seclusion of my car just as the tears began to fall. Hot, sad, angry, desperate tears, full of love for the little stranger in the Pinkie Pie Hoodie. How many miles had she walked with Pinkie Pie? What horrors had she seen in her short little life? What welcome did she receive from our government when she arrived at our front door? What about all of the Pinkie Pies who were taken from their families when they arrived at our Nation seeking refuge? What about all of the Pinkie Pies who never made it here, who died in the desert, who were killed by the violence and poverty in their countries of origin?
There have been many times in the last year that I have broken. Many times that I have seen or experienced something that rips my heart in two at the way we have chosen to treat our fellow humans and exploit them. The only thing that separates my sweet Emily from any of the other Pinkie Pies is where she was born. To think about her experiencing these horrors and to be described as an invader, a criminal, fills me with emotions I can’t describe or quantify with words. Those words don’t exist. To think about myself as her aunt, making a journey of thousands of miles with her as her sole caregiver, fleeing the violence which stole the lives of her parents, our family, to make that journey and then to have the government of the country we fled to rip her from my arms because I don’t have a document that says I am her legal guardian…Words to describe how this makes me feel don’t exist.
There are thousands of Pinkie Pies. Thousands upon thousands fleeing for their lives. Last week it was my niece. Next week it could be yours. What separates us is nothing more than geography and circumstance. Last week, I reached my breaking point. The moment where it became too real for me to handle. This is our community, these are our neighbors, part of our human family. I am committed to advocating for the most vulnerable. There aren’t many humans more vulnerable than a toddler fleeing for her life. And so, my plea to you is to think about the Pinkie Pies in your life. See if you can muster even a fraction of the love you feel for them for the children who are knocking on our door. If you can do that, you won’t be able to turn away from them. These are my Pinkie Pies. My children. Your children. Our children.