Carlos’s widow

Carlos was thirty when he disappeared, I was twenty-eight. I had the four kids, one son was six years old, my daughter was four, the other one was two, and I had just had the baby.When the kids asked me questions I told them we couldn’t go with Dad.When they were very young I told them that. But, when they were a little older, I told them their dad wasn’t here, that we didn’t know what happened to him, that maybe he died. And if he died, we have to behave very well to go with him someday.The one who suffered and knew his dad well was our oldest son.

Carlos would take the oldest boy to his job with him. He said, “I’ll buy him toys and he’ll be with me.” And it happened like that many times. And so he felt his dad’s absence and now he says he remembers him, but his memories are vague. The others don’t remember him at all.

And one day, since I was going crazy, I said I would go and look for him because he’s not dead. Maybe I was weak or sick, and I started walking with the idea that I’d find him. My mother-in-law followed me and asked me where I was going. I told her to the store, but it was 5:00 in the morning. So she told me that nothing was open.Then I went to the doctor and he said that if I couldn’t accept what had happened, I would go crazy and there were already many at the asylum.

I got frightened because I had my kids, I had to fight, and I’d cry then at night, so that they wouldn’t see me, and I’d ask God to help me fill that emptiness I had in my heart.And then, I went to my mother and she made a ruda cup of tea (a natural antidepressant) for me. That helped me. The doctor had said that he’d give sedatives, but that I would get used to them at some point, and they wouldn’t help anymore. I decided I’d rather pray to God to help me, because it was terrible, four kids, what was I to do?

When my husband was alive there was always that help, we both worked. Carlos was a very good father. He was responsible. For instance, when the children were sick, he would make the decisions, we were two people working together. But when I was left alone, I had to figure things out on my own, and if I didn’t have the money, I had to find it.When he was here, he’d do that, so that short time was good for me.Then, it was hard because one way or the other I had to solve any health or school problems. But, after he was gone, it was terrible for me. But I really thank God because He helped me forget him since it has been already twenty years. It’s not the same as it was when it had just happened.

Later, I was working as a teacher in San José, and it was terrible there, too. There were people with covered faces arriving, taking people from their homes, killing them at the market and when I went on the bus they would look at you and at pictures they were carrying…It was terrible and many people died, even entire families, kids, parents, and I thought that we were lucky not to have been with my husband, or we would have all been caught. God knows.

Thank God that I decided that I didn’t want another man, I didn’t want to marry again, I would be with my children and I’d work for them. Because another man might love me, but not my children. So, I said no, no, no. I worked, then I went to the university, I got a scholarship, and studied for three more years to be a teacher, then two more, which means I was very busy. That helped me because before that I was like a broken record, dreaming every night about my husband.

We lived together only eight years. Carlos was very friendly, everybody said that. He always said, “Good morning, good-bye”. And he also had that desire to help. He said that he’d help whenever he could. And for instance, my daughter’s husband, he sometimes says: ‘Let’s go have fun’ and he invites us to join him. But I tell him, “No, keep your money because you may need it”. But my daughter says that he’s like that, giving, and that is good, too. And Carlos was like that; he had a big heart, he talked and laughed.That’s how he was, friendly, smiling.

And I know it’s hard alone with the kids, but they have turned out good, they don’t have bad habits, and I keep telling them that we have to believe in God because that is very important. Because there are families with the mom and dad and the children are into bad habits, so I’m thankful to my mother and everybody because they have supported us, and I’m with my children now. Many people ask me why I didn’t get married again, they said my children would get married and leave, and I’d be alone again. But I think, I don’t want another man because he’s not going to love my children. And I thank God because I was able to survive that difficult time.

When my oldest son and my daughter finished third grade, they had to go to the capital to study, and I didn’t make enough money. So, I decided to change jobs to get another one that paid a little more.At that time, teachers didn’t earn much.Well, they graduated from high school, but I told them they have to go on to the university.Then, when my son was in his third year studying architecture, I told him that I couldn’t help him anymore because I had to help his brothers, too. So, he looked for a scholarship. I talked to the people at Fundación para los Estudios y Profesionalización Maya (FEPMaya) who suggested he send his application. That’s when he started being helped,thanks to all of you. Now, my other two children are just starting at the university and I tell them to follow their brother’s example because he would stay in on Saturdays and Sundays studying, he wouldn’t sleep all night. He is very committed, and, thank God, he is almost finished.

So, I have these two other sons that I’m trying to get through the university because it’s not enough just to have a high school diploma. And I tell my children that, thank God, they graduated because there are many mothers that couldn’t afford to send their kids to school. Even though my salary was not much, I had enough to pay for education and I thank God for everything He has given us because we have gotten ahead, even though we don’t have everything. I have spent most of my money for education, even though we don’t have many clothes, because there are families with a lot of money and clothes and cars, but they don’t have an education. My daughter got married, and I’m happy with the other three.

And I tell the children that life is short, we should love each other, we are here today, but we may not be tomorrow.That’s how life is, with so many dangers, and I always tell them that we go to church and that respect for God helps us not to do bad things, mainly because we may die tomorrow, and it’s not good to die in sin.

Well, that all happened, but it was twenty years ago. Yes, it’s sad. But my children are already grown, I have grandchildren, time goes by fast. I can’t forget, but time helps to not feel the same pain.

Thank you so much, also for knowing you. And now, rest, because it’s late.