I don’t know that I have expressed this enough, or that I ever can. I’m fortunate in that I was blessed with multiple grandmothers. Ella raised me along with my parents. My grandmother on my Dad’s side passed not too long ago, and she was a true blessing. Ella’s sisters- Josi and Leni- might as well be better labeled grandmother, as should MiMi, their nice. Mimi’s mother Tata died when I was young, but I remember feeling the same way about her. And I can’t help but feel like my Tío Abuelos, whom I’ve never met in person, would be grandfathers to me.
Years before that I met my great grandmother and 2 of my grandmother’s other sisters from Cuba. It must’ve been over 20 years ago. I remember one of my Tía Abuelas pushing me on the swings, and I remember laughing with them and watching them interact with their sisters. At that young I wasn’t so insightful, but I remember really valuing my brothers more after that. That distance always felt with Cuba was momentarily lost, but in their leaving it felt stretched even longer. A wider gulf.
My grandmother and her sisters and Mimi would take turns visiting Cuba whenever they could get the visas, and their visits were mixed with regret for supporting Castro and joy for seeing their families. They spoke about all the cousins, but I imagine the true excitement was to see their siblings. It’s not too different than when David, Neisel, and I know we’re all about to be together again. The energy is electric, almost hysteric. Luckily our partners come to know it and can prepare for a spike in child-like, innocent energy. I don’t think that time ripens or calms that much.
More recently I was made aware that my Tía Abuela Celina was not doing well. She was suffering from Alzheimer’s and starting to feel the weight of age bear down. It made me sad, it has made my grandmother even more aware of her own mortality, and, coupled with the recent family losses, filled the air with tension.
But that’s time for you. Seasons don’t halt; erratic though they’ve become they still come. In this tempestuous nature of time and seasons we find serendipity. My grandmother and Josi had applied for visas to go to Cuba while ago. It was taking a long time. My grandmother’s finally arrived 2 Wednesdays ago, and Josi’s last Wednesday. The phone call on Sunday to send my love to Cuba (a call, in general, that deserves its own blog post) was made more difficult by the details of the turns of Celina’s illness that her nurse was surprised she survived. The fact that Ella and Josi were hoping to make it before Celina died made the idea of the trip more fragile. Time wasn’t moving or slowing, it was as brittle as the last autumn leaf, when even the slightest wind would break it.
They arrived early on Monday and rushed to the hospital. Celina opened her eyes once for them and fell asleep. Ella and Josi went home to the farm, intending to return on Wednesday (there’s a lot I can’t explain about distance and traveling over there). Celina died early this morning. Peacefully. In her sleep.
The wind came and, instead of shattering the leaf, gently carried it away to be absorbed slowly as it dissolved into the land around it.
Still, the loss of a sibling must be among the worst. And it’s something I won’t think about right now. My love and thoughts are pouring in rapid streams to Cuba and to Leni who is in Miami with my Mom. And the rest of my family. I thought I would feel even more distant from Cuba, but I feel closer, if anything. Loss can do that I suppose. There are oceans of pages to be written about these feelings, about these people, about this state of mind when I consider my home country. I was born in Miami, true, but the pull of Cuba, the way it seems to pump my heart, is undeniable.
So I’ll take this opportunity to officially embark on writing my book. It will take me graduating to begin the more precise work, but you can expect to see the periodic blog entry as I formulate the broader ideas and maybe even some entries that will make it to the final version.
Tía Abuela Celina, nos vemos un día me imagino. Te abrazare como Abuela, y pasaremos el día hablando como amigos, en el abrazo cariñoso de familia.