September 4, 1986
This afternoon after her classes, my daughter Claudia, now seven, grabbed my hand and pulled me to the window and squealed, “¡Mamá, mira toda la gente de fuera! ¿Pueden Ángel y yo ir a ver? ¿Por favor?” She pointed to the group of protesters marching for the anniversary of Father Andre Jarlan’s death. My five year old son, Angel, hearing his name, ran toward the window and said, “¿Qué están haciendo, mamá?” I answered that they were coming together to remember a very good man who loved the poor. The men and women outside also want the men who hurt him to know that they haven’t forgotten.
I’ve always loved children, that’s why I originally took my job as a teacher (though I have been staying home while the kids are still so young). But having your own babies is different than caring and protecting others’ children, because they are like an extension of myself. I feel a kind of primal urge to protect them as if they were my own limbs. Because of this I have to be incredibly careful who I associate myself with and tend to avoid activism. We’ve seen a lot of young people, women, workers, and students protesting much more over the last three years, and I have so many hopes that their power will be enough. I so deeply want my children to grow up in a democratic Chile. Claudia is lively, excitable — a little ball of energy and passion. She loves music and wants to try playing the violin. Angel is adorable, with big, brown, inquisitive eyes, and he always asks a hundred questions. He loves to draw and is constantly asking for sweets.
My husband, Gabriel, is a wonderful father when he’s not busy seeing patients at the hospital. He has always been excellent at quelling the fears of children, comforting, supporting and teaching them.
My papa loves Claudia and Angel. They’ve softened him. He knows that in order to spend time with them, he has to maintain a good relationship with me. He has been making an extra effort to tell me how proud he is of my mothering, telling stories from my childhood, and buying small gifts for the kids. He retired from his job at El Mercurio, and thus is less in the active center of the right-wing political sphere, and has lost a bit of his heat and antagonism. But he is still papa; he still sings the same song, just with a gentler voice.
Mama is 60 this year, and she was let go from her job as a nurse. Unemployment has been very high. Mama was upset that after years of working at the same institution, she didn’t get to stay the last few years before she planned to retire. She misses seeing the children every day at the hospital, so she asks me to bring Claudia and Angel on every few Sundays so they can go to church together.
Gabriel and I still have dinner with Isidora and her husband, Julian, about twice a month. They are very busy with their three kids, and Julian is still on edge from the attacks on members of the Vicariate of Solidarity in March of last year and takes lots of precautions so that he and his family are safe.
Raising children is difficult work, and I still carry fears for their safety, their futures, the tragedies that they will have to remember, whether they will lose friends to this dictatorship — through poverty or disappearances. I have a hope that, with the renewed strength of mass protests and demonstrations, a different future is possible than the dreadful ones I can imagine. It is difficult to feel the joy of motherhood without feeling grief for the disappearances of other mothers’ children under the regime. I can’t even comprehend the agony they must feel. May we all pray to create a world in which the people reign and the government does not have the power to steal the lives most precious to us.
Si Dios quiere.