A Few Words for My Dad

By Fabiana del Valle

HAVANA TIMES – You are present in every decision we make, a passive observer who judges or encourages without words. You haven’t left, you continue in some way with your family that, despite the challenges, keeps going with a little bit of you in everything we do.

It’s amazing how time flies! Nalva is going into ninth grade with good grades. We don’t pressure her much about school, she does it on her own. It’s difficult what she’s going through, days of spending three hours at a bus stop without lunch, watching time slip away while waiting for a stranger to take pity and give her a ride home.

Her desire to study has waned after spending days in a classroom without teachers. She says she’s wasting time that she could be using to do what she really loves, drawing. Her designs are amazing, her creativity and skill have increased; I admit she has already surpassed me. If she continues like this, she’ll be an artist.

Dad, you’d be surprised how education, public health, and all the ministries in this country have fallen into decay. Two years have passed since the Cuba you knew, it was already bad, now it’s worse.

Dariel and I keep going with the fish store. The business has grown, and although prices are skyrocketing and fish are scarce, we’re making progress. At least it gives us enough to live on. Sometimes it’s overwhelming, we can’t keep up, but the end result is gratifying.

I help mom with the household expenses, but it’s not enough. A simple example, 10 pounds of rice, a kilogram of salt, a liter of oil, and a bunch of ripe plantains cost me 3,820 pesos. This was the total of my most recent purchase. The average salary in this country is 4,000 pesos. It’s enough to drive you crazy!

Mom misses you a lot. The situation with the power outages and economic difficulties weigh heavily on her. It’s not easy facing these challenges without your support. The times when she is forced to cook with firewood are hard and are often a reminder of how simple everything would be if you were still here. These episodes bring to the surface her vulnerability and longing for the past when, despite the adversities, the family felt complete.

Facing these deprivations is not only a physical challenge for her but also an emotional one. The uncertainty and pressure of maintaining the family’s well-being can be exhausting. Although mom is strong and has learned to handle things on her own, from dealing with her fear of frogs to fixing things around the house, your absence is felt much more in these difficult times.

The little help with expenses that my brother and I provide is not enough. This situation has forced me to spend time away from home, and although she’s not alone because my brother and Nalva are with her, she misses you. The only person in the world capable of solving impossible puzzles, the only one capable of building a home without budgets, the one who gave hope with just a wink.

Sometimes I feel like I’m stretching like a spring, reaching my limit and still stretching. There are days when smiling is impossible, but I try, my family needs me. In those difficult moments, I seek your strength and wisdom, reminding myself that in some way you are still here with us. Your memory is a beacon of light in our lives. We love you, Dad.

Read more from the diary of Fabiana del Valle here.