MAASTRICHT, NETHERLANDS – James Cain learned only last Tuesday, following the airport bombing in Brussels, that his daughter was married.
The secret emerged as he and his daughter, Cameron, searched anxiously for news of Alexander Pinczowski and his sister, Sascha. That was when Cameron disclosed that she and Alexander had been married since 2013.
Alexander and Sascha, Dutch citizens who lived in New York, both died in the attacks.
On Tuesday, Cain said the revelation that he had a son-in-law was “the bright spot in our otherwise anguishing week.”
Alexander and Sascha had been heading home to the U.S. when they died. Alexander, 29, was on the phone with his mother in the Netherlands when the line went dead.
Alexander had traveled to the Netherlands to work on a craft-related business that he and Cameron planned to start, Cain said last week. It was not immediately clear why the couple had kept their marriage secret.
Cain, a former U.S. ambassador to Denmark, told The Associated Press the brother and sister were very different.
“Alex was of course older and very much the big brother to Sascha. Alex was — and I’m proud to say — my son-in-law, which we just found out last week.”
Sascha Pinczowski, 26, was a 2015 graduate of Marymount Manhattan College in New York with a degree in business. Cain attended her graduation.
“Sascha was just full of life, I’d say effervescent. Very outgoing, very sociable, had a great network of friends in New York and over here in Europe,” Cain said.
In November, Sascha had warned that demonizing Muslims would fuel extremist recruitment. She posted on Facebook after the Nov. 13 Paris attacks: “Ignorant spreading of anti-Muslim sentiment and propaganda does nothing but benefit ISIS.”
Pinczowski’s Nov. 16 Facebook post was reposted by her mother, Marjan Pinczowski Fasbender, who wrote that she wanted to share “this message of tolerance from our dear daughter Sascha.”
Cain recalled two days of frantic searching in Brussels last week, hoping that Alexander and Sascha were among the survivors. On Thursday night, their fears were confirmed when Belgian authorities published a list of survivors and the siblings’ names were not on it.
“So we knew their fate at that point,” he said.
“It’s of course a tragic loss for everyone, but knowing that they were together and will now be together for eternity, in a way, brings a little bit of peace.”