Before La Llorona was a ghost that haunted the riverside, she was a woman named Maria, and she had two small children and a husband who was unfaithful. When he left her for good, he did not look at her, and only said good-bye to his children. Maria, in a rage, threw all of his things in the river, and for good measure threw the children in, too. But she realized what she’d done as they cried for her, “¡Mamá, mamá!” and she ran after them. But the current was strong, and the children were small, and soon their heads went under and did not come back up. Maria still ran, ran until she fell down and died of exhaustion, and she was buried where she fell. That night, the people of her village heard wailing and saw her, down by the river, still searching for her children. The stories go that La Llorona eats children, or kills them, steals them away and never returns them, and the stories are half true. La Llorona cannot bear the sight of a lost child. Her crying grows loud and her whole body aches, and she picks them up and tucks them into her chest and holds them close and safe until their mothers come calling fearfully. And then, and only then, does she let them go, not a scratch on them, and she watches as they return to their mothers and feels an ache that she cannot remember the origin of lessen, just a little.


How do you want to be remembered?