It’s Flor’s birthday today, she’s turning 25. I can’t believe my kids are so grown up already. I’ve been reflecting a lot, thinking about what my life was like when I was Flor’s age. University was a chaotic time with all the violence in our country before the coup. I can’t believe that even at that age, two of my friends had been murdered, and countless others arrested. And then of course the coup happened, and the years after were even worse. I was 26 at the time of the coup. Marcello and I were living together, trying to be functioning adults in a chaotic world. But we were so young and naive and completely unprepared for the coming years of terror, pain, grief.
Sometimes I can’t relate to my daughter. Which is hard to imagine, because her life in some ways is so similar to mine at that time. She and her boyfriend from university, Benjamin, are looking for an apartment to live in together. They’re both working, they’re in love–it’s the same story. Yet her biggest problems are money and housing, not a military dictatorship and friends and family disappearing.
I feel so distant from my kids. In some ways, I’m incredibly grateful for this distance. I’m thankful that they aren’t experiencing the horrors that I did, that they have experienced the fear that they or a sibling or a friend will be kidnapped and tortured and killed. But they’re almost too far removed from it all, they don’t understand what Marcello and I lived through. I’m so glad they haven’t experienced any of it, but I want them to understand it. They need to understand it.
Maybe it’s our fault as parents–maybe we haven’t opened up to them enough. Of course, we’ve told them all the facts, they know the story. They know that Eze disappeared on his 30th birthday, that he was likely tortured and then killed… but Flor and Nicolas have never seen me cry over my brother. And I still do cry, often. I’m 58 and still I can’t stop grieving for my brother. His face is still young in my mind, only 30 years old. I wonder what he would look like now, how he would have aged. But it’s hard to admit these thoughts to anyone, to show my children that I’m still in so much pain. When the kids were growing up, Marcello and I tried to protect them by hiding our emotions. But now I think that they need to witness our tears to understand how the past still haunts us. Both Marcello and I still have nightmares–rarely now, but we do. My children need to understand this.
Well, I’m out of time. I’ve got to shower and get dressed, and then Flor, Benjamin, and Nicolas are coming over to our place for a birthday dinner. Marcello’s cooking up something delicious, and I made chocolate cake, Flor’s favorite.