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The News We Never Thought Would Come

I was at my best friend’s house on Friday night. I had gone over to help her build her Christmas village, and by help I mean that I was mostly just there to be a friendly ear. I went home around 12:30 Saturday morning. I got ready for bed and checked my phone one last time, at 1:25am. I had a notification from Buzzfeed (I know, not the most reliable source, but a source nonetheless) that Fidel Castro was pronounced dead at 90 years old.

            It wasn’t until the next morning when I was telling my father that the magnitude of the Castro news hit me. All four of my grandparents had left their homeland to escape this man’s tyranny. All four had left their legacy in Cuba, where their families had lived for generations before. All four of them knew the ramifications of this man’s dictatorship and that they would have no chance at a better life if they stayed in the only country they had ever called home. My grandfather worked at a labor camp for two years to earn his family’s visa to leave the country, and broke his leg in the process. My father and my uncle left their homes as elementary school children to start a better life in America, without knowing a word of English and having to live in my great-uncle’s cramped apartment. My father had come on his first plane ride to America and never looked back, all because of this man.

            Just take that in for a moment. One person, one person had led to the complete disruption of my ancestry, and now he was gone. When I told my father the news, he was in disbelief. He just uttered ‘Good riddance’ and continued with his morning. We all knew that death was inevitable, but at the same time, never thought the moment would come. We turned on the local news to make sure it was true. Channel 10 had ongoing coverage, and I had never been so engrossed in the news in my life. It was as if we had entered a parallel universe where bad things happen to bad people, but it was all real.

            My family and I are over rejoicing in the news of this man passing. I don’t think that there could have been a more poignant reaction than at the Rodriguez household. My uncle,  father, mother, and I toasted to his death that night with a shot of Cuban rum. And even though none of my grandparents were alive to toast with us, I believe that they had their own celebration. One Castro down, one to go.

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