June 20, 1981
It has been exactly two years since my mother disappeared. I have lost all hope of ever hearing from her, finding her, or seeing her again. A thick cloud of hopelessness, guilt, regret and sadness surrounds me constantly. If I had only tried a little harder to convince her to get all the young teachers to stop congregating at her nightclub. If I had only gone in there myself as soon as I heard the rumors. If I had only told her to think more of herself and her own safety, rather than the progressives she sympathized with. If only I could have said a few more words to her. It truly does not feel real. As if I’m dreaming and any second I’ll wake up and be 10 years old again, waking up slightly at 2 in the morning when she gets home from work, leaving a trail of glitter behind her as the heels clink on our kitchen’s dirty linoleum floor. She would fix herself a glass of milk and two pieces of toast before shooing me back to bed. I’d watch her set out a cup of mate leaves to prepare the next morning before she tucked me back under my blanket. Our nightly ritual, once a seemingly mundane facet of my childhood, I now crave. I wish one more time I could come home after school to see her putting her makeup and costume on, practicing a new song or dance routine for that evening. It’s hard to remember the details. When I close my eyes and think of her, I see her smiling and giggling with me when I was very young and even the arguments we had. Anything at all that I can remember. Memories of these silly little things are like precious diamonds to me. And for a short moment, it doesn’t hurt.
It was just normal life then. Real normal life. Not the “normal” of today, that is uncomfortably artificial. Disappearances happen every day in Cordoba, and I shouldn’t be surprised that my mother is one of them, although that does not make the sting of reality any softer. The feeling of fear that I might be next, that my school will shut down, that Cordoba will sink even deeper into the hands of the dictatorship; the pain that I have lost my only family.
It seems so backwards that my mother is gone and I’m still here. She is 62 years old, and although she looks young, I still cannot believe that they’ve taken her. She is becoming weaker than she once was, no longer able to dance and run like she used to. It is incredibly heartbreaking to imagine the suffering she must be in, as I refuse to believe that they would kill her.
It is difficult to describe the pain I feel; the pain that I imagine that she feels. When it is there, which is almost always, it is impossible to imagine how I exist without it. Just like in the dead of winter, all you feel is coldness. Even though you know that you understand what the summer feels like on your skin, the feeling of stepping outside to warmth and sunshine is unfathomable in that moment.