My Neighbor’s Wake

Jorge Milanes

Man on the staircase sculpture by Agustin Bejerano . Photo: Rafique

My neighbor died this afternoon.  What a shame!  I want to go to the funeral home for a while.  It’s ten o’clock at night right now, so I suppose I’ll stay there until around three in the morning, since I have to work tomorrow.  On the way, I ran into other neighbors who were engaged in a lively conversation.

“You’re all going to the wake?” I asked them.

“Yeah, and you?”

“Me too,” I responded.

“So that’s it, we’re all going together,” said the group’s leader to me enthusiastically.

As we walked, the laughter and stories are echoed along the way.

“I never thought a wake could be so pleasant,” I commented to them.

“Man…, you don’t know nothing; this is just the beginning,” said one member of the group, who had apparently come with a few drinks already downed.

But what surprised me was that this response had come from a woman, so I began to imagine everything contained in her answer.

We finally arrived to where was laid the person with whom just a few hours earlier had shared everything with us, the good times and bad.  We approached the coffin, took a last look, and then went over to the relatives to express our condolences.

We then left the chapel to sit down outside, near a cafeteria – which, by the way, hardly had anything for sale.

“I gotta have something, even if it’s just a shot.  If not, I can’t spend the whole night here,” said someone in the group.

“Me too,” chimed in another person, pulling a bottle of rum out of their jacket.

“You wanna drink?”offered another man, extending me the bottle.

“No thanks,” I responded categorically.

I didn’t think a funeral home was a place for getting drunk.

“In addition to having to work tomorrow, I think I should show some respect for my friend and his family.”

“Please, don’t drink here,” added the sister of the deceased to them.

One thought on “My Neighbor’s Wake

  • If I understand the situation in Cuba correctly, there is a real scarcity of places where people can simply get together and socialize: both informally, in general, and also with the renting of locations for events — such as formal and informal wakes. Someone correct me on this if I’m wrong.

    So it seems that this article wouldn’t have been written this way if it were simply possible to rent a ‘hall’ and hold a proper wake — of whatever type — in memory of the deceased. Because I guess a funeral home is indeed definitely not the place to get drunk and reminisce about the dearly departed.


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