Imagine this: you are a poor girl living in a rural Latin American village.
However, you are truly beautiful.
One day, a rich nobleman comes riding through the village. He is adorned in the finest clothes, riding a well outfitted steed.
You just happen to be in the market when he spies you, and immediately stops dead in his tracks.
He spares no time starting up a conversation.
He asks you what you do. He asks you what you like.
He buys you flowers, and you, blushing, accept them.
And then, out of nowhere, he asks you if you’ll be his wife.
Love at first sight…
How could you so no?
Your family, having only ever known poverty, is thrilled.
His father, on the other hand, is not so gracious.
He had plans for his son, none of which involved marrying some poor peasant girl.
His son, however, was adamant. Your are the love of his life…
And to prove his point, he moved out of his father’s estate, and built a small home in the village.
A small home for you, himself, and the family that was sure to come.
How could you say no?
Happily married, you gave him children.
A baby girl, then a baby boy.
And then another boy.
And things were good, for a time.
Your parents, however, start growing concerned.
Your husband seemed to be going on more and more out of town trips…
Each one longer than the last.
True, when he came home, he always made time for the boys…
But there was something distant about him.
“Are you still happy, our Maria?” they asked you one day.
How could you say no?
You and the children kept growing older.
And the man who once fell in love at first sight –
kept growing colder.
And then came that fateful night…
He came home…
She was such a pretty, young thing.
Still, he could have said goodbye.
He saved that kindness only for the boys.
And as quickly as he had entered your life,
He was gone.
Gone for good.
Mythology is replete with stories that end like this one.
One famous example involves Jason of Argonaut fame.
When he abandoned his lover Medea for another woman, she killed their two children.
Maria was about to follow in Medea’s jealous, cruel footsteps…
Down to the river they went…
It was only after drowning her boys that Maria realized what she had done.
She searched the river for her children, wailing, crying our their names, but there was no response; the river had already carried the boys away.
A few days later, she was found on the river bank…
Maria found herself at the gates of heaven, where there was only one question between her and salvation.
“Where are your children?”
Without an answer, she was banished from the afterlife.
And that’s why she’s still searching for them, a weeping ghost, a tearful specter.
Of course, you and I both know that she will never find them.
Now, she is known as “La Llorona”, the crying lady. If you hear her wails, run the other way.
Like a Banshee’s shriek, listening to her lament can only bring misfortune, if not death.
More importantly, keep your children away from the river, especially at night.
She often mistakes them for her own, drowning them, as she pleads for absolution.
Those who claim to have seen La Llorona have reported the following:
She is typically wearing a gown with a veil; sometimes they are black, sometimes they are white.
Often she cries out for her children in Spanish.
And the farther away her wailing seems –
the closer she really is.
And the take-away?
Never let your children out of your sight.
Okay, just kidding.
Then again, I think I just heard someone wailing.
For a more thorough examination of the La Llorona myth and its many variants, here is one resource:
De Aragon, Ray John. The Legend of La Llorona, 2006, Sunstone Press, Santa Fe, NM.