September brought me one of the most amazing miracles I could have ever prayed for: my daughter Sofia. Watching her grow is a beautiful reminder of how life goes on. She’s living proof of the power of love. Thank goodness for her, because she came into this world during a month that is truly bittersweet for me. There is one person I wish had met her: my cousin Steven. We grew up together and connected despite our different personalities. We both loved technology and would escape family events to play with computer games, gossip about the family or simply talk. The last year of his life he hid from me how sick he was. The last time I spoke with him I was on bed rest and his voice was so weak, yet he tried to be cheerful because he knew how much I loved the baby growing in my womb. When our phone call ended, I burst into tears because I realized he was saying good-bye. He passed away just four days before she was born, and five days before his own birthday. Every time my daughter blows out her own candles, I think of Steven and wish that on the 13th I could sing happy birthday to him. I miss him terribly. Then there is 9/11. That day changed everything. It shattered the world I knew and it brought the most painful of losses to so many people I love or that I have become acquainted with over the years. It was the only day I ever doubted whether I wanted to be a mother.
But years before the 9/11 that still fills my eyes with tears as I remember those we lost and honor the heroes that worked so hard to save others, another country was completely changed on September 11, 1973: Chile. It is a painful day for so many, while others still view it as a rebirth. My own family was divided by what happened before and after the military coup. In many ways, I was born in the USA because my parents left Chile as socialism and communism advanced. After Pinochet took power, other members of my family were exiled or tortured.
So September fills me with tears.
Happy tears when I think of my daughter and the love she has brought to our family.
Sad tears when I remember my cousin. And so many tears of sorrow when I think of my friend’s father, the weddings he missed and the grandchildren he never met.
In the end, joy pushes aside the sadness, because with every smile, every hug, and every kiss, my daughter proves to me that love conquers all.
Love heals even if grief never leaves you.
In loving memory of Steven Fosk and Herman Sandler.
Photos: Jeannette Kaplun