Para mi familia~For my Family

I’m about to be really honest.

I don’t usually like to post things that are controversial. I’m not a confrontational person and I don’t speak my mind a lot. I feel vulnerable and incredibly afraid to write about something so deeply personal. But we all have our moments, I suppose, where something compels us to put our thoughts down in some medium, and express things we’ve kept bottled up inside. Tonight, I’m sitting at my computer unable to sleep. For me, today’s protests in Cuba hit me in the heart.

See by writing about this I’m not trying to express an opinion, or be confrontational. I’m just writing about my family, my family and their unique experiences. I’m sorry if it offends anyone, I do speak about disturbing events so if it’s not something you want to read at the moment, I totally understand. Our story is not always a pleasant one. It’s not anything except what it is. Our story. Our reality. Their story is Cuba. It’s mine, it’s theirs, it’s many other friends and people I know. And for the ones who can’t speak their truth anymore because they were silenced, it’s theirs especially.

I was born in Florida. I have never seen Cuba. I have only seen it in photos, and heard about it through memories. We can’t go. I ache for it, it is something in my blood that is a part of me but remains elusive and unreachable. An idea, a memory, a painful sore place that never heals. It’s real, and it hurts. But for us Cuba is not a vacation. It’s a very real reminder of the family and friends living there, people close to us with no food and sometimes not even enough to wear, dealing with widespread power outages, a collapsing medical system and no voice. It’s not a tropical paradise. For our loved ones in Cuba it is not a vacation from a brochure. It is not a fun trip and a selfie with an old car. For us that is simply a fact, unpopular as that viewpoint may be. It’s our truth.

My family left after the Cuban government took their home and all their possessions. My mother left by airplane, my grandfather left on a raft. They all came in their own way and in their own times, when they were able to escape. And thank God, they all arrived safely. I know not everyone has been so lucky, and I am so grateful every single day for the life I have. I have been truly blessed.

The stories were long, and they were sad. My grandmother especially was the storyteller in our family, she told me these things gravely, with few tears. She told me because she believed that I had to know. I’m very grateful to her for it. Growing up, I heard about my great-grandfather’s time on death row, he was jailed for owning a business. I heard about the casualties of the government, tortured and left for dead on my grandmother’s doorstep, a family friend who had spoken out. The friend who spent 20 years in political prison for disagreeing politically. The child shot dead in the water by the government as their family tried to swim to freedom. They had to leave their child’s body behind in order to save their children who still lived.

These are the people who make up our friends and family. People with loved ones, with dreams, who felt and feel pain, people who died with no voice. For years I’ve lived with these memories, keeping them alive. To be honest, I’m afraid that if I don’t repeat them, that they will fade away. That everyone will forget. It’s one of my greatest fears, to fail them. I’m the one who is supposed to write stories. I will never forgive myself if I let them down.

I can’t do much. All I can do is tell our story, our story as Cuban-Americans. One day I hope to travel back to Miami to collect their stories for a book. I’m desperate to preserve these incredible accounts, it seems like every year we lose another elderly family member. I live in the Southwest now, and it’s hard to travel back with work etc. I regret it every day that I haven’t done it yet. Hopefully 2021 will be the year.

My family, my family who has seen so much, I am so grateful for you and for your courage. I hope to one day be as strong as all of you. Thank you for teaching me to be grateful, and about ferocity and strength in the face of adversity. Cuba Libre always and with all my heart,

-Winter

14 thoughts on “Para mi familia~For my Family

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  1. You are right in wanting to leave the document of their suffering, in book form would be the best.
    Cuba’s struggles even now, are well known but this will become part of human history, inhumanity of man to man, and it is important not to forget.

    Thank you.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reading and for your kind words Joanna! You are so right, it is vital to preserve those experiences and memories, especially for future generations.

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  2. Thank you for writing this blog post. Thank you for sharing the struggle you have gone through as you decided to write about your family and others who have suffered. I pray you can make the trip to Miami soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reading and for your kind words Larry! It was a hard post to write, I’m glad I did but the process of putting yourself out there is always really intimidating. I hope I can get to Miami this year too, we’ll see what the year brings.

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  3. Winter, it’s so important for the world to know what life has been like in Cuba for so many years. Why not from someone whose family endured such horrible events? Thank you for sharing your family’s story with the world. I enjoyed reading it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reading and for your kind words Kathleen, it means so much to me! The situation has gotten so bad, it’s really heartbreaking. It’s my hope that by sharing these stories it can bring attention to the awful human rights violations that have been and are being carried out against the Cuban people😢 I’m praying so hard for a better future for the island.

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  4. I hope you get all the stories you seek. It sickens me how many Americans b*** abt whiny stuff in their country, the wimps don’t know how good they have it. Not all of us are like that, are we? I am so happy to learn your family made it safely here. I hope you get to where you want to go. Viva La Freedom! I want to visit Germany, and other countries of my ancesty, maybe one day. This is my truest home, so I will wait here for the right time. Beat wishes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Dawn, I really appreciate that! Thank you for reading! I hope you get to go visit and travel to some of the places you’d like to go soon, there are so many amazing places to see!😊

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      1. My pleasure. Thank you. Yes, Earth is covered with beautiful lands. I’d like to travel there, and I may, yet, with important family matters to tend to here, it’s okay if I stay 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words Robert. I appreciate that so much, it’s hard for me to speak on the subject but I agree it’s definitely necessary and important to share these experiences.

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