by Liza Sierra
Trigger Warning: Strong emotional content and suicide method referenced. If you are in crisis, text “help” to 741-741 or call 988
At 17, I enjoyed loud music, hanging with friends, and like any other teenager, online chatrooms. One day I got a message from a guy who was 19, single, and from the U.K! I was completely fascinated by him, being that I’m from Texas.
We exchanged pictures, and phone numbers and we both got into so much trouble for running up our parent’s phone bills back then. (Sorry Mom). It was hard to explain since we had never met before, but it felt right. Eventually, both our moms had a conversation about how much time and money we spent calling each other. They recognized how much we both cared about each other so they agreed that we could meet in person. One day while I was online, with John of course❤️, my mom came in and casually laid a plane ticket next to me and said, “You’re going to need a passport.” You can imagine my reaction!
Four weeks later and after a pricy expedite on my Passport Application, we drove to the airport. After a crying session, my very upset father hugged me and said if there is any trouble to call him immediately. When the captain made that announcement about landing soon in Birmingham, England, my anxiety kicked in. I walked out of the terminal, grabbed my luggage, and immediately spotted the Blonde Hair Guy waiting anxiously. We locked eyes and he just hugged me and wouldn’t let go for several minutes. It was just so intense and loving and emotional.
We stayed at his mom’s house and at first, she was very nice to me
I had the best time with John exploring his country. Such a beautiful place! It all went by so fast, my return flight which was 2 months after my initial first inbound flight, was approaching fast. I was sad, nauseous, and just felt terrible about leaving. I told my mom over the phone about how sad and sick I felt, then out of the blue, she asked if I could be pregnant.
WHAT? No way. Later that evening I walked to the pharmacy and bought a test. It came out positive. I waited until John came back from work (he had a good plumbing job) and told him. He had no words, but he got teary-eyed. I knew it scared him, so I said, “Don’t worry, I’ll be leaving soon anyway.” He nodded in agreement and we went to bed saying nothing to each other.
For the next few days, we hardly spoke
On the morning of my flight, I packed my suitcase, John went to work, and his stepdad was already getting ready to drop me off. I felt confused and hurt but I needed to go home. I went to grab my bag to double-check I had everything in order, then my passport! WHERE WAS MY PASSPORT? Panicking and even with help from his stepdad, we tore the place upside down NOTHING– it was GONE.
Did I leave it somewhere accidentally did I drop it? Obviously, I missed my morning flight. I felt frustrated, tired, and sad all at the same time and I just laid down and slept. John walked into the room, sat down, reached in his back pocket, and threw my passport on the bed next to me.
I was angry until he sat down next to me and hugged me tight and said he couldn’t stand me being away from me and not just because of the pregnancy. He confessed to having fallen in love with me. He then told his mom about the pregnancy, and she flipped out, yelled at him, called him stupid, and said things like, “And someone like her?” “Wasn’t she supposed to be gone by now?” Up until then, I had not realized she had a big problem with me. I called my mom and told her what happened. Unfortunately, the ticket was nonrefundable. And my dad had a work accident a week after I left and needed surgery. So, funds were not there to bring me home anytime soon.
A few more weeks went by, and John’s mom was very cold towards me
One night, I felt cramping, worse than a regular period and I didn’t feel right. I tried to sleep, John got up for work, kissed me, and left. I didn’t tell him how bad I was hurting. An hour later I started bleeding heavily and the pain kept coming in waves and was so intense I couldn’t even stand upright.
I sat down by the toilet in horrible pain and about 30 minutes later, his mom came knocking asking to use the bathroom. I apologized and told her about the bleeding. She came in with a disgusted look. When I asked her if she could take me to the hospital, she said she couldn’t because she needed to take the cat for his checkup at the vet and gave me 5 pounds in change and said I could take the bus. Before I could even ask where it even was, she left.
I couldn’t find the house phone and then decided to go outside and make my way to the bus stop and hopefully find the bus stop. The neighbors were outside, and saw me in pain and bleeding, so they took me. I was so thankful for that.
I had a D/C done because it wasn’t a complete miscarriage and they admitted me. John found out because the neighbors told him what happened. When he found out his mom left me alone like that, he got very angry with her. I was out a few days later with instructions to take it easy for a few more days.
The next night John’s mom stormed in, grabbed my stuff, and started yelling at me to get out. John told her that I wasn’t going anywhere, so she said she’d call the police and let them know I overstayed in their Country. I grabbed my suitcase and said OKAY and headed out the door. All I heard was, “If you go with her, help her, even feed her or sneak her back in then I don’t want you here either. You can leave with her.” He came toward me, and he said, “Let’s go.”
We went up the road and sat on a bench wondering about our next move
We had about £50. He had his phone, and I called my mom. She wanted to strangle his mom, so she said she’ll try anything to get me home. I told her I couldn’t leave John, his mom disowned him, so she agreed to get both of us back to Texas, but it was going to take some time. And time it did take.
Meanwhile, we slept on a patch of grass, in phone booths holding each other to keep warm. We were rationing food, we would go to the bathroom behind bushes, and we’d use napkins from places we could get them from. We hadn’t showered properly in 4 weeks. We were homeless, and hungry, and prayed for that phone call from my mom. John would charge his phone from a nice store owner who sold phones and accessories. Then one day, she called with 2 tickets. Home SWEET HOME. The Texas Heat hit John like a freight chain because after stepping out of Bush International and within 5 min he was red as a lobster!
Fast forward a bit, we started our lives in Texas and were blessed with 2 daughters
By then John had worked for odd pay with under-the-table jobs to get his work permit and a valid residency card along with lawyer fees for his stay in the U.S. He started advertising on Craigs List because he was extremely good with computer repair software, hardware, and more.
We had them sign in their items and we’d send them a text with all our info and their pics and all for their peace of mind. One day we had a nurse who worked at an E.R and he was so happy and satisfied with John’s work he told all his colleagues and by the time we knew it we had a lot of doctors as customers. Yes, they know how to save your life, but many couldn’t open a PDF file. From Local PD officers, we got a lot of game console repairs.
With the money we saved, we opened an electronic repair shop. John could almost repair anything he was so intelligent and day after day I would admire his talent. He even taught our daughters his work. Before we knew it, we’d been open 5 years. We paid off our house, had 2 cars, and started saving up for the kids to go to college. Five years became 8 in business, and we had a few employees, and we were talking about opening a second location. Things made sense, we were successful, our kids were happy and healthy, and things were good.
By the end of 2017, John started was very quiet and seemed upset
He would ask me things like, “Do you think I made you guys Happy? Am I doing OK? I feel like I am not doing enough for us” Of course, I reassured him he was a successful small business owner, a great husband, and a wonderful father. He’d just smile and go back to work. He stopped eating as much and started to sleep in more.
I would ask him what was wrong, He’d say it was nothing, “I just want to lay down and do nothing.” I joked and playfully called him “Lazy” and then cuddle up next to him while he binge-watched TV shows. He also stopped going outside in the pool with the kids which made them a bit sad. At times, he was his normal self-happy and would take us out to the kids’ favorite restaurant or Arcade.
One night he told me he was going to die before me. I replied “No way mister. We still got a lot we need to do! So shh! Nonsense.” By the time 2018 rolled around, we had that conversation a few times, and each time I thought I had reassured him.
His moods were swinging up and down to the point where he’d shut down completely. On May 6, 2018, we were coming back from my sister’s house, and John got distracted and hit a barrier cone, which luckily for us wasn’t too bad. When he stopped and assessed the damage he quickly got into the car, slammed on the pedal, turns to me, and says, “I’m the biggest F###-up ever, I can’t do anything right, I’m dying TONIGHT.”
We hit about 100mph while I was crying and trying to talk to him and calm him, but nothing seemed to work. He drove up to our house, practically almost hitting the fence, and walked inside and slammed the door I quickly followed him into our room he was pacing, and he was upset I tried hard to calm him down.
Then he started to cry, which I’d not seen him do since he lost his stepdad
I was shaking, he was shaking, and I begged him to talk to me.
John had always had a fascination with guns, and he owned and carried a 9mm. That didn’t cross my mind at ALL. Still agitated and 6 feet in front of me, he suddenly pulled out the firearm and killed himself as our daughters walked in to show us something. It happened so fast, I screamed, and my daughters both started crying and yelling. We ran outside and I dialed 911. My daughters were holding each other yelling “Why daddy? Why? Why did he do that?” They were 11 and 12 at the time.
When the cops and EMTs showed up, they walked inside and then outside with a look that I can’t describe.
The Justice of the Peace was called and the time of death was 12:01a.m May 7, 2018. That night I couldn’t go back in the house so I took the kids and we stayed at a hotel. I called my family–my mom, my aunts and they all showed up at the house. The most painful part was arranging the funeral. I couldn’t go in and confirm him, so my brother did that at the coroners. About 3 days had passed, and my 12yr old started to complain about stomach pain, and nausea and started breathing heavily and ended up not breathing, and I rushed her to the hospital.
They had to put her on a ventilator, she was in full-blown Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) as she’s a type 1 diabetic. Losing her dad and witnessing the event caused her sugars to go out of control. So, there I was, my husband dead, and my daughter fighting for her life.
She spent 3 days on ventilation and was slowly breathing on her own
I had held off on the funeral because I wanted her to say goodbye to her daddy. As they were throwing dirt on the casket, my kids and I left. We hopped in the car and drove off leaving the rest of my family who came to pay their respects.
A few months later, both my daughters started having nightmares. They were angry, lashing out, and crying daily. My 12-year-old attempted to strangle herself and she was placed in a psychiatric hospital for youth where she stayed for over 60 days. I’d go see her and she was like a zombie no eye contact no words. During this time, my youngest started causing trouble in school, fighting, and running away.
I started getting heavily into drugs to cope with everything
I felt like I lost my family. One night, I went to score some drugs and got arrested for the very first time in my life. I spent 3 days in jail until I was bonded out. I kept using and my mom moved in to help me with the kids. They gave me 5 years probation and a fine. CPS (Child Protective Services) ended up at my door because they got a report I was using, and my kids were having a hard time processing what happened.
I admitted I had an issue and that I don’t know what else to do. They removed my kids and placed them in a group home while the judge court ordered me to take counseling and drug abuse courses. I’d have a test every week and it helped. I got clean, my kids were home, and slowly we started to try and live a normal life. A year later 2019 the first anniversary of his passing hit hard and I relapsed.
A week later I got arrested again, this time sentenced to 2 years in prison and 1 year for a probation violation. CPS came to see me in jail and said they removed my kids from the home. They were in foster care for 3 months, and having a hard time, acting out, sad, and shut down. They said that if I don’t get out before a certain time, I’d lose custody unless I could find someone to take them in. So, my brother volunteered. He passed the background check and home assessment and took them both in.
I did my state time of a year and made parole on my other charge
During the time I was away, my youngest ran away to Mexico and went missing for 3 months. No one knew where she was. Then she showed up out of the blue and everyone at home was relieved.
When I got the word she was OK, I broke down. One month before I was to be released, she disappeared again. The day I got released, I came home to my eldest who was doing excellent, with no more depression, she had good grades and was overall happy.
But still, I wanted to know where my youngest was. She called from a Mexico number a few days after my release and told me, “Good mom you’re back now I want to come home with you.” So, she did. Two months later I found out she was pregnant, and I told her everything will be OK. As I’m typing this, my grandson is here next to me being a cutie as usual.
My daughter named him John in memory of her dad
She couldn’t handle being a young mother, so she made the hard decision to leave him with me and she’s currently in Mexico with her boyfriend trying to establish herself and hopefully maturing enough to eventually come back and be a responsible mom. I will not stop her from reaching that. My eldest is currently in drama class and band, she has progressed beautifully from the trauma.
After all this, we’re still here. Ups and downs, slips and falls but we get right back up. I’ve been sober for 3 years already, and now I have little John to care for. I’m not saying I don’t think about the past, but I do look forward to the future.