The arrival of “ La Sobrina” breathed new life into my father. It filled the void left by the passing of his siblings somehow. A piece of his life’s puzzle, missing, lost for over 40 years, finally found and put in its rightful place. Not only was my dad able to look into his niece’s eyes and see his long-lost sister, but through her, my dad got to revisit his homeland.
Being a man of principle, my father has never returned to Cuba. His convictions would not allow it. And while he may be an American citizen, he has always been and will always be a Cuban exile. The system and ideology forced upon him left him no other choice but to leave everything he had ever known and he refused to feed it, no matter how painful. No matter the anguish.
But here, for the past few weeks in this home he built in exile, through La Sobrina he was able to visit old friends. He was able to walk through the streets of El Puerto and relive the beaches of his youth. He and La Sobrina, mi prima, spoke in terms of hellos instead of goodbyes.
Unfortunately, we Cubans cannot be too happy for too long. La Sobrina’s visa is set to expire, and her visit must come to an end. Our family is set to be separated yet again by circumscription and conviction.
Today, my father, hindered by pain and aided by his walker, is at the airport with La Sobrina, daughter of his sister, awash in tears. They will hug, take in each other’s faces while forcing knowing smiles.
Valentín Prieto is the founding editor of the popular Miami-based Babalú blog.