April 7th, 1981

Dear Mari,


It has been over three years since you became a desaparecida. Every day for these three years I have waited for something to happen. I came home from work at la panadería – every single day – I came home to our parents’ exhausted faces, their half closed eyes and softened, weak voices. They were tired, terrified, cowed. They talked about going back to Italy. It never happened of course, because they are still too scared to even run away, let alone find answers. I wanted to scream at them to wake up…


The memories of coffee, warm biscuits, the rustling of pages and vigorous voices in our apartment – all those meetings our parents had with their students seem so far away. And you Mari, how the shadows played across your face as you listened through the crack in the door… Remember when Profesor Bendenez came over and brought us gifts for Christmas when we were younger? He’s gone now too. Those memories are fading, but every time I write to you like this I feel like I’m holding on a little bit tighter.


It’s strange how we used to go to church as children. Watching the priest speak from the pulpit, seeing the mass play out from our pew – of course I felt like something bigger than us was present. Obviously we participate in the mass – stand, kneel, recite, sing – but at the same time we feel comforted knowing that our church and God are taking care of us. Perhaps that’s not the relationship I should have had with my faith. If I’ve learned anything since you disappeared, Mari, is that nobody is going to pick up the pieces for us.


I’ve started to think again about the conversations I had with my friends from la Universidad del Salvador – about the seminary, about God’s purpose among us, and about our role as believers in a world of injustice. How far away those conversations are from the present. But I guess at the same time they are more relevant than ever. When the junta steals souls, demonizes and delegitimizes the worth of our disappeared friends and family by pitting Christianity against them… This twisted notion of right and wrong in Christ is not divine, is not a legitimate use of the Church to justify the military taking my sister.


You do not deserve to die, Mari, yet right now your fate is worse than that – we don’t even know where you are.


Sorry this is such a long and rambling letter, Mari, but I have been thinking so much about what I need to do. It has been three years and I see nothing from my parents, nothing from our church, have heard nothing from my friends. My life has been on hold. Now what? I am almost 21 years old and I’ve been waiting and waiting for something to happen. I have to stop waiting. Nobody is going to come with all the answers. We have to be able to do it ourselves. And what’s the most difficult is that we have to construct our own narrative against that of the junta – we need to take back their words and throw it in their faces.


I’m still lost, Mari, but I think I know what I’m going to do. Mami and papi have given me their blessing to go back to school at la Universidad del Salvador. I hope to study to become a teacher or some kind of educator. I know that since I left the university was completely divided. Many students disappeared. Several professors and administrators too. But that was the same at la Católica, where our parents teach. I’ll be careful, but at the same time I don’t want to be alone anymore. I miss you, Mari, and I promise I’m going to do my best to find ways to discover truth and demand answers in this new direction I’m going.

1 thought on “April 7th, 1981

  1. ssvolk says:

    Post read, thanks.

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