By Lindsay Toler
By Chad Garrison
By Brett Koshkin
By RFT Staff
By Lindsay Toler
By Riverfront Times
By Danny Wicentowski
By Pete Kotz
"When did you arrive there?"
"I was there October 2006 through January 2007."
"I left that month, too," Hamid says. "It was horrible. It was Hell. Bombings, no electricity, no water, no telephones, no food, no nothing for days. We'd go everywhere in taxis, but it was very dangerous. You didn't know if the driver was a criminal or a terrorist. And I was a target for many reasons. I'm a professor, an activist, a woman."
The two women look at each other for a moment in silence. "That's crazy," Rivera finally says. "We could have crossed paths there, but we met right here."
The next day, January 23, is cold and overcast, only four days before the Riveras are scheduled to be deported. Alyssa Manning, their lawyer, hasn't yet heard from the federal court about a stay of deportation, and all they can do at this point is pray. On this morning, Kim has awoken with a head cold. Christian and Rebecca are chasing each other around the living room of the family's two-bedroom apartment on the upper floor of a cramped high-rise.
"Stop that," Rivera tells them. "Mommy's sick." She shakes her head. "Who knows what's going to happen to me in the next few days, and I'll be sick on top of it. Great."
She rises from the couch to dress and run errands. She'll strap the baby to her chest and go to the pharmacy to pick up Mario's medication for high blood pressure. She tries to take good care of her husband. She's well aware of the fact that they are in this situation because of her, and while she doesn't regret joining the Army — "I needed the experience to open my eyes," she says — she feels accountable. Sometimes when she looks at her husband, she is amazed. "I can't believe I found someone to love me through all of this," she says. "It's amazing. I mean, we've known each other since we were seventeen and he stuck with me through everything. Not even my parents could do that."
While she cooks eggs in the kitchen, the phone rings. Mario, sitting at the computer, picks it up. His eyes widen as he listens.
"Oh, that's great. Wait until I tell Kimberly," he says.
He listens and nods, then hangs up. He calls to his wife, who appears holding a spatula.
"So unfortunately, Alyssa called about the stay..." he tells her.
Rivera's breath catches. "Uh-huh?"
"We didn't get it," he says, trying unsuccessfully to disguise his grin.
"Are you messing with me?" Rivera asks.
Her husband laughs. "We got it."
"For how long?"
"Maybe through June. We don't know."
Rivera exhales, her shoulders relaxing a bit. "All I can say is thank God."
Mario nods. "That buys us a few months," he says. "But we're not out of the woods yet."