Jorge Milanes Despaigne

God, give us light. Photo: Angel Yu

My friend is right when she says that even in the most difficult moments of life, when sadness seems like it will dominate your spirit forever, there appears that instant of humor that allows you to measure your anguish.

It’s well known by us mortals who live on this island that our funeral services are becoming more problematic, and worse still if you attend a wake in the countryside.

There you can find, under the table on which the casket rests, a bucket full of ice to slow the deceased’s decomposition.  This even cools off the grievers who come to assemble, adding to the air that fails to reach them from the sole fan in the chapel.

The gray boxes in which the deceased are buried are made so simply that on more than one occasion bereaved family members have seen their relative fall to the ground while being carried to the plot where their remains would rest for eternity.

Of course none of this triggers laughter; to the contrary, it contributes to increasing the pain we often endure.

At the death of the father of a friend of my friend, relatives who live in the other shore —unable to attend the funeral— ordered a wreath of flowers sent on behalf of the five siblings there.

You know how we usually economize words, and in a situation so delicate, the mourners went to the office where wreaths are sent and asked that it be delivered simply in the name of “The Five.”

All the wreaths sent out that day arrived on time, except one.  When the man who had been responsible for this was approached by the family members, he responded to them —with the innocence of child— saying:

“Look, here’s the order, but there was one wreath I couldn’t finish because, of the names, I could only remember the name Ramon…”

Note: “The Five” is the way in Cuba that the Cuban Five prisoners in the US for over 12 years are referred to.


Jorge Milanes

Jorge Milanes: My name is Jorge Milanes Despaigne, and I’m a tourism promoter and public relations specialist. Forty-five years ago I was born in Cojimar, a small coastal town to the east of Havana. I very much enjoy trips and adventure; and now that I know a good bit about my own country, I’d like to learn more about other nations. I enjoy reading, singing, dancing, haute cuisine and talking with interesting people who offer wisdom and happiness.

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