I among countless others have prayed for this moment, when the threatening force that governed so much of a country’s unhappiness is diminished. Pinochet is dead. The heart of the years of terror has terminated. To leap for joy or weep for justice lost? What does this mean for the families of desaparecidos who were unable to see Pinochet die or imprisoned by the hands of the people? It seems cruel to have so many die because of this man in the most abhorrent of manners while he has the grace and dignity to die a natural death of old age.
Sitting in the kitchen staring at the phone through which a friend had just communicated the news I hadn’t realized how long I had been standing there until I heard Rosa’s small voice,
“Why are you crying mommy?”
I stuttered, not knowing that I had been crying. Her voice, the pure, high sound of an 11 year old calling me mommy before the years of teenage angst sink in, were enough to break me away from the numbness that had gripped my body. I had been standing silently as my friend called my name on the other line, tears streaming down my cheeks.
I didn’t know how to answer my own daughter. Why is mommy crying for a horrible, horrible man? It’s not tears for his loss obviously. What hits me to the core is the fact that such an unstoppable force of evil is not exempt from mortality. Even the torturer will have the same fate as the tortured in one-way or another.
“I’m happy Rosa, don’t worry about me,” I manage, flustered. “You remember the man I told you about Augusto Pinochet?”
“Yes mom, I know who Pinochet is, I’m not 5.”
“Well good because he has passed away.” She didn’t know exactly how to react; it’s hard when you feel like rejoicing over the sad fact of death when it feels like something Pinochet would do himself. She hugged me, and told me that we could forget all of the things. I’m trying to make sure she knows we can’t forget. Forgetting is allowing Pinochet to get away with the dampening of our history. But I’m happy to be able to raise my daughter knowing that he is gone forever.