A Silent Burial for My Family Who “Disappeared”

Saturday, August 14, 2010 - 6:00 am

A Silent Burial for My Family Who “Disappeared”

Fernando Ramiro Curia
The author’s brother, first on the left with leather jacket, at wedding with Peronist Youth shortly before he disappeared. (courtesy of Maria del Sol Crocker)
I was born in Argentina, and came here after my marriage. Crocker is my married name; my original surname is Curia. My sister, Gloria Constanza Curia, and my brother Fernando Ramiro Curia, as well as my cousin Horacio Ponce, were kidnapped and killed by the military junta government in Argentina. They disappeared in 1976 and, like Mercedes Doretti says in her interview, my whole life froze.
I was unable to finish college. My mother went into deep depression. My little sister left our home and moved in with her boyfriend’s family.
We could not stand the silence in the house, a house that had been filled with music and joy, since both my brother and my sister played the guitar. We all used to sing together — mostly Argentinian folk music, Brazilian bossa nova, some tangos, Mercedes Sosa — and our friends would drop by in the evenings just to make music with us.
Gloria Constanza CuriaWe were submitted to a subtle kind of torture: every once in a while there would be an anonymous phone call with “news” from our siblings. I will never forget that one year we were told that they “would be back for Christmas.” That Christmas Eve night (in Latin America, the big celebration happens on the night that Christ was born) my mother refused to eat, to drink, to talk, waiting and waiting. Finally, she went to bed, heartbroken. After that day, we dreaded Christmas, because my mom would fall into her depression again.
After about ten years, I told my mother that they would not be coming back, and I offered to go through their belongings and decided what to do with them. I felt like I was burying them — going through my sister’s make up, her ballet clothes, my little brother’s shoes (so big, he was 17 when he was taken and had been growing so fast), his overcoat. So much pain, so little justice.
No, I do not hope to find that my brother and sister are alive. I am sure that they are in some mass grave in an unmarked location. It would be a wonderful closure to have their remains identified. The worse part is the uncertainty and the waiting.
As I try to understand, heal, and integrate these painful experiences, I have found that only Vedanta has a clear and acceptable explanation for what has been called the problem of the existence of evil. In the first place, there is the law of Karma, which basically is the law of cause as applied to our actions (and thoughts too!). That accounts for why “bad things happen to good people” and also gives me a larger overview on the concept of justice — meaning that no deed goes unpunished (or unrewarded). So I have come to accept that my siblings, my cousin, and all my “dissappeared” and dead friends had some karmic influences that were working themselves out.
Sometimes a soul needs to experience certain things in order to evolve in a particular area. And what may appear to be very negative occurrences turn out to be wonderful learning opportunities. I pray for the next incarnation of my siblings, that it may be a good one and lead them ever closer to the Goal.
Thank you for remembering them. Thank you for the poetry and the splendid music from my beautiful and wounded country.

Maria del Sol Crocker lives in Cohasset, Massachusetts.

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is the cofounder of On Being and currently serves as chief content officer and executive editor. He received a Peabody Award in 2007 for his work on “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi” and garnered two Webby Awards (in 2005, and again in 2008). The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent’s reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

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