Robert looked stricken and the shock caused Molly to feel as though she had entered a waking dream. In her mind’s eye she saw flashes of long white habits, jungle paths, a crib with bars across the top as well as on the sides. She heard soft voices and a woman weeping. These same images also made up her nocturnal dreams. She feared she’d go crazy if she didn’t get some answers.
“Are you alright?” asked Sr. Rámirez.
“No I’m not. Not at all,” answered Molly. “None of this makes sense but I’ve often felt that I had a different name. I was not always called Molly.”
Sr. Rámirez left her and Robert in his office with the sympathetic female officer. Molly supposed he’d gone to consult with his superiors. He returned 15 minutes later.
“I am going to accompany you to Santa Martha. We’ll need to speak with your families and find out what’s going on.”
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They left Mérida the next morning at 6:00. Traveling with Sr. Rámirez in an official vehicle from the Immigration Department made Molly and Robert realize how remote their home was. During the first hours of the drive, they had passed many villages. But as they approached Santa Martha, the frequency reduced to every 30 minutes or so. Ramrod straight trees with criss-crosses etched into their bark lined the road sides. This was former chicle growing country. Sr. Rámirez told them that ten years ago, no roads cut through this land and only strong men, and even stronger women survived.
The exit to Santa Martha appeared quite suddenly, forcing the driver to make a hard right turn. Robert and Molly fell to the side, and while they straightened up, Robert whispered, “Let’s go to your place first.”
Molly spoke up and directed the driver to her house.
Molly and Robert’s bodies felt stiff after the long car trip, and the scene that greeted them left them speechless. Robert’s dad, Rudy, sat on the front porch with Molly’s mother, Loretta.
“I didn’t even know they were acquainted,” said Molly.
“We have some explaining to do,” said Loretta, “But first come in and have something to drink. You must be thirsty.” She didn’t seem at all surprised to see the Immigration authorities. She took a deep breath and told Sr. Rámirez: “I have expected to see someone like you for years.”
Rudy began. “Molly and Robert you are both from Guatemala. During the terrible civil war, Loretta and I worked for international aid agencies to protect civilians from the violence. But our efforts had little effect.”
Loretta looked sorrowfully at the two young people. “Both of you were born into brave families. In an effort to stop the resistance, the generals kidnapped children from parents like yours and threatened to kill them if they would not surrender. Your parents turned themselves in hoping that they would be reunited with you. And then they disappeared.”
Molly and Robert looked at one another, completely uncomprehending of the astounding circumstances.
Sr. Rámirez cut in. “Loretta and Rudy, are you still members of religious communities?”
“We don’t know,” said Loretta, “We’ve had no contact for 18 years. You see, when the fighting escalated in our area, we found one of the places where the children were held. Mother Superior told us to take them from their cribs and carry them to the Red Cross. The relief workers hid them until they could be spirited out of the country and adopted by families in the USA. But two were very ill and couldn’t make the trip. They were left behind in our care.”
Tears running down his face, Rudy said, “Son those two children were you and Molly. You were so young and so sick. During a bout of street fighting, Loretta and I got separated from the sisters and the other priest. We had no choice but to flee and we had to take you with us. Somehow you survived and we managed to get into México near Yaxilán. There were no border guards; we simply crossed the river. Country people helped us and we traveled north until we reached Santa Martha.”
Sr. Ramírez interrupted. “I think that you had best wait to finish your story in the presence of the proper authorities. I can see that what you did was your only option at the time. But in reality, you have broken many laws. You have misled the Mexican government; you have kept two individuals from their homes. God knows what else you could be accused of. You need legal counsel and you must speak with a representative from your government.”
Robert knew that all his questions would soon be answered, but did he want to hear the reasons? He looked at Father Rudy, the man he’d always believed to be his father. He and Sister Loretta had given their lives to save him and Molly. For breaking the law, they would probably be punished. He couldn’t get his head around any of this. Robert could think of nothing else but to reassure Rudy, “There is so much to be cleared up but somehow we will work it out,” he said
For Molly, the confusion swirling all through her seemed unbearable. Why did they call her Molly? Was that Sister Loretta’s real name? Did she and Rudy contact their religious communities once they arrived in México? Who had Grandma been? Who were her biological parents? Why didn’t Loretta and Rudy tell her and Robert the truth? So many inconsistencies, so much mystery, so much pain.
She and Loretta had a lot of talking to do but for now they found comfort rocking in one another’s arms. Loretta wanted to explain, but Molly placed her index finger over Loretta’s quivering lips. “Sh-sh-sh. As Robert says, we’ll work it out.”
- You’ll be able to see the final installment tomorrow.