Too Late

Elio Delgado Legón

Photo: Caridad
Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — My friend Javier did not have a happy life. I know this because of the story he told me minutes before he died. Even though he was my best friend – almost the brother I never had – I never realized his life was missing that crucial element that love is.

It all began when he was 22 and met a woman who stole his heart. It was his first girlfriend, and the relationship only lasted a few months. Owing to a misunderstanding and lack of communication – perhaps because they lacked experience – they split up and never saw one another again. Each went their separate ways. She got married and had children and he did the same, but they never did get over each other entirely.

After five years apart, they ran into one another one day, by chance, and again felt the pain of lost love. Though they were only able to talk for a few minutes, it was enough time for him to find out she would soon be leaving for the United States. At that moment, he felt he might not ever see her again.

Life took its course and, over 50 years, my friend Javier continued to search for love, never forgetting the first and great love of his life.

When he told me the story, it had been nearly two years since she’d reappeared, having come into contact with him through the Internet. The two were lonely, yearned for times past and regretted having wasted so many years. They began a new relationship over email and she promised to travel to Cuba as soon as she could to reunite with him, to experience what they could not live together 50 years before, but family issues forced her to postpone the trip time and time again and they were only able to write each other daily.

Almost two years later, when she had put her problems behind her, she told him she would soon be traveling and they could have the honeymoon they had both yearned for. But, less than a month before the reunion, he became seriously ill and, through me, sent her an email informing her of his illness and the hospital he had been admitted to. He then asked me to write her several times to tell her the exact place he was at, in case she wanted to visit him there when she arrived, something she promised to do.

The day the trip had been planned for he asked me to visit him at the hospital and told me the entire story. His condition had worsened severely and doctors expected it all to end soon…and he knew it.

He showed me a note he had written the night before and asked me to deliver it to her, in case she didn’t make it before his death. He placed it under his pillow. He took my hand and squeezed it gently. He closed his eyes and I felt him recoil slightly. I looked at his chest and noticed he wasn’t breathing any more. At that moment, the door opened and she came inside. She had come straight to the hospital from the airport.

“He just passed away,” I told her. She looked at him and took his hand, which was still warm. I took out the note from under the pillow and handed it to her. She read it and then showed it to me, saying: “I came too late.” The note read:


When death arrives
and I succumb to its designs,
I will take with me only
the pain of not having seen you.
If having you or not having you
was my life’s question,
in my last farewell,
I want you to therefore plant
a tear, and kiss,
on my sleeping forehead.

She gave him a long kiss on the forehead, while tears ran unbridled down her cheeks.

Elio Delgado Legon

Elio Delgado-Legon: I am a Cuban who has lived for 80 years, therefore I know full well how life was before the revolution, having experienced it directly and indirectly. As a result, it hurts me to read so many aspersions cast upon a government that fights tooth and nail to provide us a better life. If it hasn’t fully been able to do so, this is because of the many obstacles that have been put in its way.

3 thoughts on “Too Late

  • I never fail to look for Moses’ replies whenever Elio writes his posts. It’s a bit like a comedy team but Elio never gets the last word. Actually he does, his next post but no rebuttal. A sidenote, growing up in the fifties/sixties I never missed a Rock Hudson Doris Day movie!

  • Elio!!! I think I saw the movie version of this story. It starred Rock Hudson and Doris Day. Or was it Gregory Peck? At any rate, Elio should stick to his highly detailed recollections of his personal experiences that took place more than 56 years ago. Those stories are just as entertaining and impossible to fact-check.

  • This story caused me to get real sad on the other hand Life is so short and things like this happen so often. i hope that she will always remember him as her true love

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