HAVANA TIMES — There was something I always thought about the first time I left Cuba. I was only gone for 11 months, but since it was my first time I was away from my family (not counting the rural boarding-schools), I was a little afraid of what might happen while away from them and my friends.
I guess that happens to everyone who goes through the shock of leaving the island.
Since nothing happened during those 11 months (other than the death of a cute one-eyed cat that lived in our house), on this second trip I simply put aside those thoughts, considering them fatalistic.
Now I’ve been in Venezuela for a little over a year. However, my tourist visa has expired, which means that if I wanted to return to Cuba at this time, it would be virtually impossible to be allowed back in Caracas.
So right now, when I needed to unattach myself from the island, family and friends for longer than I would like, what happened was what I dreaded on my first trip. Until now I didn’t think about it.
Death, as we know, is just another state. Being prepared for is almost the same as being prepared for life. It’s something that can only be learned living… or dying. We almost never think about it until we smell the odor… or hear its sad melody.
Someone who dies young always takes us by surprise. If we love that person, it’s even worse. And if we can’t give a hug to those mourning that loved one’s death – worse still.
Being out of Cuba and receiving one of those notices has an advantage: it’s easier if you want to avoid the pain. The news is softened by the mail. We’re spared from any kind of communication, we can avoid it. It’s easy if you’re away, but it’s an absurd advantage.
I can decide to catch a plane — nothing’s stopping me — and I could spend time with my family. It’s an option. But then I’d have to leave my life behind, when for the first time I have the opportunity to choose how to live it.
So then guilt sets in, feeling that above all, what stands out is my selfishness. I won’t be able to do anything, nor would I have been able to do anything for the one who is no longer alive, though I could be with the others.
But I’m still here.
Therefore I conceal the ugly face of the matter, so that the guilt doesn’t take root. Still, I don’t tell this to anyone since I don’t want anybody to offer me the comforting words I don’t deserve.
At least I think I had the opportunity to decide whether return to the island this time. There are many people — I don’t even want to think about how many — who couldn’t go even if they wanted.