June 2, 1979,
Today was Lucas’s 13th birthday. He and several friends organized a celebratory game of baseball in the park down the street. Julio and I and a few other parents who had the day off from work watched and cheered from the edge of the field. I did not know any of these parents particularly well; we had slightly forced conversations about the weather, how our children were doing with the new history teacher at their school, plans for vacations. I wondered if any of them had holes in their hearts similar to mine. Were any of their loved ones gone? I did not ask. I do not talk about Father much, but he is on my mind almost constantly. But I push past these thoughts often and instead of delving deeper in these frivolous conversations, invite everyone over to have some birthday cake. The kids excitedly run ahead of us, knowing that treats await. Julio and I have not figured out a good way to talk to Lucas about his grandfather. At first, he had a lot of questions but he is able to play and do his homework and read and draw and go exploring. For life goes on.
I see white ford falcons everywhere and I can’t help but wonder if one of them is the one that made my father a desaparecido. Did he struggle? My guess is that he did not. Have any of the sets of eyes I avoid seen him more recently than I? Did they fail to show any emotion while they beat him? While they killed him? How can we grieve for someone who may not even be gone forever? Mother and I try to keep ourselves busy but I know that she cries often though she tries to cover it up with make-up when she arrives for dinner most days.
Videla says we are fighting a war on los subversivos, everyone who threatens Argentina. I was born in Argentina and it is my country. I do not think that my father fits into this targeted, ill-defined group but maybe this does not matter to those who had him abducted. Neither of my parents were born here but they have dedicated their lives towards investing in the future of Argentina’s working class. This, I would argue, is not anti-Argentina. I know that others believe differently but as hard as I try I cannot understand that angle of looking at things in this nation nor in the rest of the world.