‘Going our own ways:’ A family made whole again by divorce

The author at left, with sister Ellie

The author at left, with sister Ellie

By Elena Velez

It all took place in downtown Jersey City at St. Mary’s Church. That’s where Maria Almadin and Edwin Velez met. The two were madly in love for a while. Two years later, on December 17, 1994, the couple became one and showed their love for one another. In 1996, they had their first daughter, Elena Maria Velez. In 1998, their second daughter, Eleanora Velez, was born.

Since then, they’ve had the responsibility to raise the two girls. They sent Elena and Ellie to Resurrection School, while Maria was working as an accountant in New York City and Edwin was working for a towing company. The family was so happy the way they were.

Suddenly, on January 4, 2007, the Velezes came together to have a family conference. They all gathered upstairs in the master’s bedroom to talk about it. Elena and Ellie, in the most scared mood, wondered what their parents would say.

June 26, 2007. Summer
Edwin: (Happily) Hey, guys! (To Maria) We need to tell them.
Maria: Do you think it’s time or should we wait ‘til next week?
Edwin: I really think they need to know now. This probably can’t wait ‘til next week.
Maria: You’re right. (Asking the girls to head upstairs) Girls! Please come up here.
Elena and Ellie: Coming! (They rushed upstairs to see what was going on)
Elena and Ellie: (Feeling excited) Yes?
Edwin: (Sighs) We need to talk to you guys.
Elena: About what?
Maria: Your father will be away for a while.
Ellie: Why?
Edwin: (Hesitant) I’m going on a business trip.
Ellie: Where to?
Edwin: (Nervously) a place.

Edwin was actually heading to his grandmother’s house to take a rest from his and Maria’s marriage. He would be returning on Thanksgiving and promised to stop by for Elena’s birthday.

Elena and Ellie: Well, okay.
Maria: (Hesitant) Okay. Just wanted you guys to know that so you guys don’t worry about anything.
Ellie: Okay.
Elena: Can we leave now?
Edwin: Sure.

Elena and Ellie head downstairs to talk secretly about the conference. Later that night…

Elena: Hey, Ellie.
Ellie: (Whispers) Yeah?
Elena: Mom and dad are so lying to us.
Ellie: They are?
Elena: Yes! Why would dad be going on a business trip if he works at a towing company?
Ellie: True that! But what do you think it is they really want to tell us?
Elena: I don’t know. It’s probably something that’ll break our hearts or excite us so much that we might not be able to sleep.
Ellie: Hmm, why don’t we just ask them?
Elena: They may be too nervous to tell us yet.
Ellie: True
Elena: We never had this conversation, okay?
Ellie: (Winks) I got you.

July 4, 2007
Ellie: (Sighs) It’s kind of sad that dad isn’t spending 4th of July with us.
Elena: Right?
Maria: Well, I bet if he was here, he would want to.

Two weeks later…
Ellie: When is dad coming back home?
Maria: I think Thanksgiving.
Elena: So he won’t be here for my birthday?
Maria: I think he’ll stop by or something.
Elena: I really hope so.

Maria and the girls enjoyed 4th of July with the family. They all headed to New York to watch the fireworks.
Edwin returned early enough for Elena’s birthday and spent the Thanksgiving weekend with them.

Elena: Dad, are you finally coming home? Do you have to go back?
Edwin: I have to head back and get my stuff. I’ll be home tomorrow afternoon.
Ellie: Where did you go?
Edwin: I went to spend some time with my ‘abuela.’
Elena: Why? What’s wrong with her?
Edwin: Nothing, I just miss her so much.
Ellie: (Fiercely questioning) You said business trip!
Edwin: I did go on a business trip for like a month. Then I visited ‘abuela’ for a while.
Elena: Okay?

The next morning, Edwin returned home and the girls hurried into his arms as fast as a cheetah could run after a prey.

December 2007
Edwin spent the holidays with Maria and the girls. However, Edwin and Maria’s secret was slowly becoming apparent.

January 4, 2008
Edwin: (Demanding the girls to head over to the master’s bedroom, once again, for another family conference) Girls! Please come here.
Elena and Ellie: Coming!
Maria: We need to have a family conference again.
Elena: Dad’s leaving again?
Maria: Well, your father and I have been happily married for a long time. And I think it’s time for us to take a break from each other now.
Edwin: (Trying to explain without making it so difficult) It’s not a divorce. We’re just separating from each other for a while.
Elena: (Hesitant) Are you guys going to be back together?
Maria: (Disappointed to say…) Most likely not.
Elena: Where will dad live then?
Maria: He’ll be living with ‘abuela’ for a while.

Elena and Ellie slowly started to break into tears as the news got tougher to hear. Maria and Edwin explained to them how he would visit them and would still have those fun times with the girls.

January 6, 2008
Edwin had left his children and Maria, as the couple wished only the best for each other in the future. Edwin gave his last kiss and hug to Elena and Ellie. That snowy day was the hardest day for the girls to forget.

Edwin and Maria remain good friends to this day. However, they rarely speak unless it’s about the children. Edwin sees Elena and Ellie once in a while. Though, Edwin takes the girls to the movies, the mall, and still provides the best for them even though he isn’t there.

In 2009, Edwin moved to Allentown, PA with his friends. Edwin comes down every three weeks to see the girls and provide child support. Elena and Ellie are still wishing to this day that God grants their wish for the two to get back together.

Elena Velez is a 10th grader at Summit Senior High School in Summit, New Jersey. She grew up in Jersey City.

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