"Our Lives Begin to End the Day we Become Silent About Things that Matter."  --Martin Luther King. Jr.
 
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A week after thanksgiving, I paid Laura a visit. The house was exactly as it had been a few years back when she took me to work on the strawberry fields. The manicured front yard, the tidy porche with matching rocking chairs and recently-watered plants, the smell of food making its way outside, all proof that Laura still lived in that house.
She opened the door and we held gazes for a few seconds. 
"My God, I remember you," she said and asked me in.
She hasn't changed. She is the same woman I met when I was looking for Esperanza: vivacious, witty, with impeccable skin and brawny arms developed by years of work in the fields.
Her husband was in the kitchen finishing his dinner. I apologized for the interruption and offered to come some other time. To no avail. They asked me to stay. He also remembered me, not so much because of the interview he gave me but because Laura used to tell him all about our days together. I'm sure I was the topic of conversation every evening after working during the day with Laura in the fields. The crazy writer who thought she could keep up with Laura. The fool who felt fit enough to withstand the stooping position for hours, the nut case who drove up and down Florida looking for a woman's story.   
We had a laugh (at my hopeless lack of agricultural skills), talked about their children (no longer children but grown up men), and between laughs and jokes about Laura's father (the flirt!), I showed Laura the book. I opened it in the chapter titled "Laura" and we hugged.
She hugged me because someone had dimmed her life worthy to be remembered, because a book in English dedicated a whole chapter to her, her family and her story.
I hugged her because every time she took me to the fields, she taught me a lesson of humility, of resilience, of determination and fearlessnes. Because one day at a tomato warehouse in Dover, after hours of stooping over the dizzing conveyors, when I was just about to throw the towel, she cracked a joke about body odor. And we laughed in secret, when the crew leader wasn't looking, and then she cracked another joke and all of us women at the conveyor stopped to laugh, to live, to allow some humanity into the backbraking job of sorting out tomatos for salads they will not taste.




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