One thing I find really difficult about my job–about consular work, really– is letting go. Letting go of people you issued who you may have second thoughts about, letting go of people you refuse who may have actually qualified with a few more questions or just one more document. You just can’t let those cases stick with you or you’ll never be able to make decisions.

I had a case like that today and I can’t get them out of my head. My brain knows that they can always apply again, but my bleeding heart feels heavy and sad to think about how long they saved to pay for their interviews and for the 2 days they had to spend here in what is a pretty expensive city.

The whole rest of the day I felt hypersensitive to the huge disparities between rich and poor people here in Mexico and in this city in particular. I wanted to buy chicles (gum) from every kid on every street corner, knit shawls from every indigenous woman with a baby strapped on her back, wooden toys from every stooping old man pushing what is always a super heavily laden modified wheelbarrow down an impossibly crowded street.

I joined the Foreign Service to try to make the world a better place but sometimes I can’t see the forest through the trees and I just feel like I’m only hurting those people who most need help. I never thought I’d say this, but I kind of miss doing immigrant visas. True the lows are definitely lower, but I miss that feeling you get when you click “issue” and get to tell a family that they can finally be together again. That’s what makes this job worth it to me. That’s when I feel like I’m actually doing something good for the world.

It’s heartening to think that even with my husband gone I have something to look forward to back in Juárez, but for the next three weeks I just need to let go of my bleeding heart.