Our deepest condolences go to Asombra who shares with us his thoughts on the passing of his dear mother:
Another Piece of the Best of Cuba Laid to Rest
My mother has died. I had known for a while that it was time for her to go, as she’d outlived her capacity to have more than a physiological existence, which is not the same as a life. Knowing that, of course, never prevents a sense of loss, of something missing, leaving a yawning emptiness like a black hole, and it doesn’t stop the vise-like grip of sadness that feels, at times, like asphyxia–but it was time for her to rest.
Bear with me if you’ve heard all this before, or lived it, but it is of some help to express it. Among other things, I owe my mother my freedom and its benefits, for she was the driving force behind our leaving Cuba “before it was too late.” My father was too deeply rooted in his native habitat to have left it purely on his own initiative, and indeed, he never fully recovered from being uprooted. My mother, however, was focused like a laser on saving her children from the horrors of communism. If she’d had to, she would have left without my father, who later related how she was obsessed and almost crazed with getting her kids out of danger.
She had never been and never would be political, and in a sense she was unworldly, but she never trusted Fidel, and she read between the lines better and quicker than most. As it became increasingly clear to her what the “revolution” was about and would entail, she was seized by a kind of lingering panic. She later recalled how she would dread every new Castro speech, fearing he would finally shut down all chance of escape, but she persisted and prevailed, though it took several years of trying before we were allowed to leave.
She never looked back. She never saw her beloved parents again, but even after it became possible to visit Cuba, she wouldn’t go (although my father did, alone). She wouldn’t dream of her children returning to that hellhole, and she never understood how anyone who’d gotten out could possibly let their kids go there (it was not a good idea to talk to her about the Elián González case). Oddly, or perhaps predictably, her visceral rejection of the “revolution” did not include nostalgia for pre-Castro Cuba, certainly nothing like my father’s gnawing longing for the past. To her, that Cuba was dead, something that no longer existed and would never return. She showed little or no interest in “las cosas de antes,” or the old things, which may have been her way to cope with the loss without being eroded by it, as my father was.
My parents only left Cuba for the sake of their children. My father never would have left otherwise, and my mother would not have pushed him for any other reason. They weren’t looking for better material conditions for their kids, either–they were afraid for their minds and souls. My mother especially was convinced that, if the family stayed, the children would, in effect, be taken from their parents and corrupted, turned into what she would have considered alien beings, and the prospect terrified her.
I will not impose upon you with more personal reminiscences, and I do not wish to be overly sentimental, for she was not. However, I do think she was an exceptional Cuban, and I have always been proud of that and drawn inspiration and strength from it. I cannot help but see her as a piece of the real and true Cuba, or at least the best Cuba, the one whose great promise so tragically miscarried. She was part of that promise, but she would not let her children sink with it, and I will always be grateful.
Gracias, mami. Descansa en paz.