“It’s hard. We see our kids,” Khanna, 45, said, her voice calm. “It’s hard.”
Khanna brought the couple’s three children here one Sunday in July to remember her husband and five grandchildren.
Nurses at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital — on a central urban thoroughfare with a view of the Bronx River — paused suddenly, eager to talk.
“He had mental illness,” nursing staff said of Ruiz’s son.
“Yes,” said coterie of bi-lingual Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking doctors and their colleagues.
“And mental illness,” said an African-American nurse.
“She saw her children suffer,” Khanna said. “That’s why I’m here.”
In recent years, dozens of hospitals and clinics across the country have opened rooms, often in old visiting houses or unused buildings, for reunions like these.
The hospitals are answering a growing demand for therapy for mothers burdened by violence and immigrant trauma. At Bronx-Lebanon, Dr. Cherylyn Harley LeBon, a deputy chair of psychiatry, said the hospital was working with immigrant families “to understand what hurts us and trying to address what’s helping us.”
Some wounds are deep and seemingly irreparable.
J.D., a 39-year-old engineer, came to the United States from Honduras with his wife and their young daughter in August 2015.
There was no mention, the nurse recalled, of the violence J.D. saw during his time in Honduras. When J.D. joined his parents, his mom, Romaynina Contreras, then 53, fought back tears.
“When you lost your son you, everything,” she said. “You lose everything. Everything is gone.”
J.D.’s mom also described burying her boyfriend.
“I wish he could come back,” she said, “he had his whole life ahead of him.”