I don’t know how unusual this is, but I consider the people who I have worked with at the DHS for almost 15 years my family. They were there for me when my mother was ill and I had to leave for long periods of time to be by her side. They were with me at the funeral where many of them traveled 4 hours to be present for me as I numbly went through one of the most difficult days of my life. They were there for me when I returned to work again, still in shock from the entire experience. My colleagues, the government attorneys, the Judges, and the private counsel, were amazing. They are amazing. I received so many letters offering their condolence. I received so much words of loving support. And, because they were there during the entire time I was facing my mother’s illness, they were very patient for me when I returned because most knew how difficult the grieving process was. There concern and compassion enveloped me on a daily basis. We knew each other well as we had spent many days in each others presence. When one of us achieved some great distinction, we rallied to cheer them on. when one of us was hit by a great tragedy, we did our best to hold that person up. We took care of each other. As this was not my first job out of law school, I could really appreciate that the atmosphere was incredibly unique and uncommon in most circles. I knew I was incredibly lucky and for that I was and am incredibly grateful. There were many days when I forced myself to go to work and show up. There were many days when I could not hold back the tears despite the need to perform. There were many days when I could lean on my friends as they empathized with my pain. There are so many people that I could list here that mean the world to me. I can imagine that many people have a very different picture of the employees at the DHS. Perhaps they think the people there are cold and heartless as we are in the job of dealing with issues involving illegal immigrants. But that could not be further from the truth. The people who I work with really care as they do their job, they are professionals and respect each person who crosses their paths. Knowing I was going through a very difficult time, one of my colleagues placed an angel above my desk. There was a quote on it that said “May the Lord Bless you and Keep you.” That angel still remains there to remind me that I am loved. My colleague has since passed away, one of the biggest losses of my work career, and now I know that she along with my mother are my angels watching over me. My work family at the DHS has been a vital part of my recovery process and I am forever grateful to them for everything. Thank you to the Assistant Chief Counsels, the private bar, the immigrations judges and the Deputies. Especially I thank my Chief Counsel to whom I will always be grateful.
During the past year, I was chosen as a mentor to direct one of my colleagues on their career path. It is often said that service to another will move you along the healing path. I did not know if I would be able to give 100% and told my mentee the same. She chose to stay with me and I am so glad she did. With my mentee, i found purpose. With my mentee, i was able to forget my sadness and rejoice with her in her accomplishments. With my mentee, I started to feel good again as I was assisting her with all the possibilities that were in front of her. Not only did I get to mentor her, but she also became a good friend along the way. God places people in our lives, all different genders, colors, shapes and sizes for a reason. We just must remember to say thank you for the gift of love and support and pay it forward when the next person needs it. I know that I will do my best to pass on the love.