La Llorona

It was early afternoon and the café we stopped at was nearly empty, but sunny and bright. My 6-year-old picked a table by the window while my 7-year-old and I picked out pan dulce from the pastry case.

Empanadas with dulce de leche, a croissant with ham, cheese, and jalepeno, and delicate wedding cookies. We were eating quietly when my older son asked if I knew the story of the woman who cries.

“La Llorona?” I asked him. I pictured a woman walking on the ocean water with a long, steel knife. But that couldn’t be what he was talking about.

Sometimes I think my son is psychic, that he can read my thoughts. I had just been thinking about the summers I spent as a child at the beach in Sonora, Mexico

All of us kids would stay up late at night and stare at the ocean. We would each tell our own version of La Llorona. Mine involved a woman in white who searched the beaches for kids walking alone. A cousin’s story had her looking for young couples kissing, their last kiss of course. Each story was more terrifying and more specific. We’d go on until we were so scared we ran crying back to our parents.

“What story did you hear?” I asked him. Sure enough he told the story of the woman who drowned her children to be with the man she loved. Then she roamed the streets crying for her children. I didn’t ask if the story he read mentioned La Llorona snatching up kids if they walked away from their parents in the mall like my family told me.

Mainly I was just happy that we were talking about a book from Mexico that was in his classroom. He said he thought of the story because we were sitting in a Mexican bakery.

Who we are and where we come from doesn’t come up very much. We just live our lives. But it was so nice to sit and share a story I grew up hearing while eating food I grew up eating.