Today is Easter Sunday, the celebration of the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ from the dead after his crucifixion and burial. Regardless of your religion (or lack thereof), I hope you’re having a great day.

While today is a very important day for Christians such as myself (it’s literally my name), the moveable observance nature of Holy Week has made this specific Sunday have a different meaning for me as well.

Six years ago, on March 31, 2018, my mother passed away after an uphill fight against a liver leiomyosarcoma. She gave it her all, but without the adequate chemotherapy and treatment that she so desperately needed to have a fighting chance at it there was not much anyone could do against such a rare form of cancer.

On that day, the worst of my life, I made a promise to her as she lived through her last painful and agonizing hours in this world. I promised her that no matter what happened I’d take care of my brother, Christopher, that I would find a way to get him out of Venezuela, and that I would find a way to build a new, better life for him.

It took me six long years of failures, of flying too close to the sun several times, of struggling to find solutions to no avail as my legal pathways were very limited — and his were even more so.

But at last, today, on March 31, 2024, we both find ourselves living through the first days of a new life here in Italy, with our Italian identity cards, passports, and most of the other documentation finally in our hands.

We left our home and all of our possessions aside from some clothes, some devices, and some video game consoles. A clean slate, strangers in a strange land, like more than seven million Venezuelans have done over the past decade.

We wouldn’t have made this far without the help of so many along the way, there’s too many people out there that I’ll always be thankful to for all the help and support given to this pair of socially inept siblings.

Today, this Easter Sunday, I find myself not at my best emotionally-speaking because, just like in 2018, the date of my mother’s passing coincides with the Holy Week, so this has reopened some mental wounds from those days. Watching my mother, frail as she was, sitting on a borrowed wheelchair as she prayed to the yearly Nazarene of San Pablo Holy Wednesday procession that was being broadcasted on national tv, helping her take a shower and use the toilet amidst water rations, the last things we ate together on Holy Friday, and her rapid health decline that led to her passing on a Holy Saturday evening.

I still hold some contempt at myself because I was not strong enough to save her, I still blame myself in a way because, had I studied in my youth, had I had a career as a professional, then maybe I could’ve had the resources to get her the proper chemotherapy, those damned Votrient (Pazopanib) pills that we could never find but could’ve extended her life or even saved her…

Perhaps, had I been smarter, more resourceful, and all that, then perhaps I could’ve found a way to get her the right chemotherapy that she needed from day one so that her cancer wouldn’t have worsened to a point that she needed those hard to find pills…

It’s easier said than done for me, but I have to stop torturing myself. I keep saying that every year, but it was hard to get closure when I was living in the same environment where everything happened.

All I can do is to continue fulfilling my promise, and now that I’m finally out of Venezuela, finally bring closure to all that pain and finally find a way to heal so that I can live the rest of my life — whatever long that ends up being is up to God to decide — being the best person that I can be.

I’m going to avail myself of this Easter Sunday to make a real effort in leaving all that pain behind, to stop delving into the past, so that I can finally mend myself up, both physically and mentally. I want to close the door on so many bad years, lock it all up, and throw away the key, it’s the only way I can move on.

Today, six years after that day, my brother is finally safe and sound out of Venezuela. We’re currently staying in a small rental apartment, sharing one bedroom like we used to back when we were young, but we’re at peace after such a rocky start here in Italy, thanks to the help we received from a local group of Venezuelan-Italians in the region.

At the end of the day, I strongly believe that it was our mother that helped us, as I was on the verge of calling it quits here after I could not find a place to rent and could not solve our documentation conundrum during our first month in Turin.

It definitely was her that made it so that we crossed paths with the group of people that helped us find this place and has been helping us with the documents and other things. After all these years she’s still taking care of us from up there.

We’ve gone through a little over two months in this new journey of ours in Italy. The best thing about it so far is seeing my brother happier and more proactive than before. His mood has greatly improved, he’s doing more things on his own, and is making a concerted effort to learn Italian at a better pace than me right now — he actually speaks more Italian than me now.

He’s also doing things he hadn’t done before, trying new kinds of food, and even different types of video games outside his comfort zone. He armed himself with courage after I got sick these past weeks, and went on solo adventures of his own to the pharmacy, supermarket, and other places to get food and medicine. He had no idea, but I surprised him with a new controller for his Nintendo Switch earlier this week, boy, he was thrilled.

I spent six years failing to get him out, but these new moments where he’s smiling, talking more, singing, and being more open and outward have made all of it worth it. I experienced the same with my young cousin, who is staying at our old place. Her mood and mental health changed like night and day after she was finally out of the abuse of our family.

I still am trying to talk to my brother about figuring out what he wants to do, if he wants to study something, learn how to do something, and whatnot. This is something I’ve been trying to achieve for years because my mother always wanted for him to be able to study something, she always believed that he was capable of it despite his condition.

No much progress there yet, I’m afraid. He had started learning programming back in late 2019, but after the pandemic and lockdowns hit well, he went back to his shell, and he’s just finally getting out of it.

That aside, though, now that my brother is safe it’s up to me to work on the other half of the promise: building a new life for him.

I don’t have much studies, and my Italian is most rudimentary, but I have begun resuming work on my dreams in my spare time, and resurrected my passion project after putting it on hold for almost 3 years. Truth be told, the main reason I had stopped working on the Vaifen Saga is because I simply stopped believing in myself after failing so much over the past six years.

I am just starting to believe in myself again. Having restored the project’s backup files, and read through my notes, Sword’s lore entries, and the last version of the manuscript I can safely say that yeah, I have something great going on here, and I can’t wait to finally share it with you all now that I am no longer constrained by Venezuela’s inherent limitations. Reading all the cool things I had already built for this fiction novel series has begun to reignite the spark within me.

Generally speaking, I’m finally ok too, but I’m not exactly happy at a personal level, and feel rather lonely even though I am not alone. I have never cared much for myself, and I have very little self-worth, which heavily reflects on my raggedy appearance. I have to stop that and start caring about myself, I have to seek my own happiness too, I just don’t know how.

One day at a time, I guess.

Right now we are at last at a stable starting point towards a new life, a good moment to close up six difficult years of escape failures (and many more preceding years), and to begin walking a path towards something new.

I’ve said a few times that the last time I was truly happy was back in 1998, when we lived in Maracaibo. I wanna build something for my brother and I that’s even better than 1998 and also everlasting.

I’m still trying to find my role in all of this that we call life. I’m also trying to help my brother find his own spot in all of this too. At the end of the day, I went through an atypical childhood and adolescence, skipped so many chapters of a “normal” life, and I was not given a handbook or training in how to be a father figure, I just had to figure things out on my own, and there’s much that I still do not know.

Life is a never-ending adventure, but I have barely lived and experienced things in my sheltered life, that’s something else that I have to figure out too.

But in this, Easter Sunday, the commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, I’ll be praying to bring closure to myself, to finally have the strength to improve myself, and to be able to seize my dreams and use them to both build a new life and to be a force of good so that I can repay all the help I’ve been given.

I’ll work even harder from now on so that I can finally become the son my mother deserved to have.

Thank you all for sticking up with me throughout these years. Love you all,