On November 25, 2016, a man died. And Miami rejoiced.
We awoke that day with a destination. Calle Ocho, which is the epicenter of Little Cuba. For Fidel Castro was dead, and the city was congregating there to celebrate. And I didn’t know how to respond.
The event was quite different for Nikki and I. She was born under that merciless regime. Escaped with her family when she was seven years old, but still with horrible memories of what happened to all of them. I was an “American” with no teachings of what was occurring just 90 miles from our shores. So as we approached the center of the celebration, she was jubilant, as was everyone else, and I was amazed. For me, it wasn’t about Fidel. It was about the people I saw before me.
Young and old. Immigrants and children of immigrants. Elderly people who never thought they’d live long enough to see the day. Youth who had heard the stories, and were now immersed in the relief that at least part of that government had fallen. I took a thousand pictures, trying to understand what was going through everyone’s minds. Seeing the tears, both of joy and of old memories of those who didn’t make it to see the moment.
I felt kind of horrible, seeing extreme pleasure of a man’s passing. For it wasn’t a celebration of his life, it was happiness and joy that some evil was finally dead. But since I had never felt oppression so profound and pressed down on me, I could never understand what was happening to those around me. So I just took it all in. Not with dancing. Not with tears. But with wonderment.
Nothing had really changed in Cuba. Not that day. A man was just dead. But in that death, hope came alive. People who left behind all that they were, forced to abandon family and comfort, had lived long enough to see the start of change. That, I understood. And with them, felt uplifted.
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And while you’re at it, perhaps head over to Amazon and pick up my new novel: Letters To A Dead Uncle. On the shelves and in the Kindle Store. It’s a travel novel, of sorts. Just me writing to my dearly departed Uncle Jimmy about my latest exploits. More details on the home page!