August 13th, 1984
Matias got a letter from Beatriz. She is ten now, living with her mother in a Chilean community in Ireland. She speaks English well and helps her Mama. I miss her horribly. Sometimes I wonder if this wasn’t a way for Primera Esposa to punish us for assuming she was dead. To take our baby so we would know what it was like to be taken from her.
The last afternoon I took the children to the park, and spoiled them terribly. This gave Matias and Primera Esposa to shout and throw things. Abuela’s old tea kettle was lying in pieces on the kitchen floor when I came home. Ramon and I glued it together but there is a piece missing in the bottom. Since then Beatriz has more or less come to think of me as her mother does, the imposter who slithered in, took advantage of her mourning husband and filled the empty space she left so there was nothing for her to come back to. There is no mention in the letter of the year and a half in which I told bedtime stories written just for her, cooked favorite meals, mended torn spots on little legs where knees had been scraped and clothes ripped.
It gets harder here too. Pinochet is squeezing us. All of these things to buy and nothing to buy them with. Oscar and his wife can afford to live nowhere but with our parents. Senor Alberto, who used to scold me for playing conquistadors used to have a small family owned sausage factory, but no more. Not in this sick economy Pinochet has cooked up. Felipe works nearly day and night trying to get enough food to feed the ever lengthening line in his parish’s soup kitchen, but the more hungry people get, the more angry, and the more brutally the military comes in to squash them. They haven’t been to Graneros yet.