Goodbye, January

I’m glad January is almost over. It kind of sucked.

My grandmother died. If I had been in Miami, I still would not have been at her side. She lived in Havana, Cuba. While she died at the ripe old age of 93ish, death came for her suddenly. She’d been unwell in that nonspecific and mysterious way elderly people often are. Then one day she was in the hospital. The next day she was dead. Communists and foreigners love to brag about Cuba’s excellent medical system, but it’s only excellent for wealthy tourists. But I digress.

My grandmother and father in Havana, Cuba, 1970.

My grandmother and father in Havana, Cuba, 1970.

I didn’t know my grandmother well. My family left Cuba in 1980 and I was two years old at the time. In 1991, my parents brought her to Miami for a visit, but she could not stay permanently. That was the last time we saw her, 22 years ago. Although I didn’t know her well, I still mourn. She is my father’s mother; was the last of my living grandparents; the last of a generation; my ancestor now. Many stories died with her and I loathe the Cuban government all the more for robbing me of a relationship with her. Worse, for robbing my father of time he could have spent with her, for being unable to be at her side during her illness and death, for not being able to attend her funeral, and grieve with his sisters, who are also still in Cuba.

My sadness over her death is augmented because I can’t be with my family in Miami during this time. This is one of the worst things about being so far away. It’s bad enough to miss the celebratory moments such as birthdays. It’s heart-wrenching not to be there during difficult times. I called my dad, but he didn’t want to talk, understandably. Had I been there, I’d hug him, cry with him, and sit quietly with him. Technologies like Skype and the magicJack are good, but not this good.

So that was last week. This week, I’ve had to say goodbye to my coven in Miami. As the pagan spring festival Imbolc approaches, my coven will be gathering to re-dedicate themselves to the group for another year. For the first time in seven years, I won’t be there. While the friendships will remain and I’ll visit with them when I return to Miami, it’s painful to part with my spiritual family.

My new bicycle.

My new bicycle.

That’s the last two weeks, but all of January, which began so promising, kinda sucked because the shadow of homesickness and insecurity have hovered over it. But it’s in these low moments that I also feel especially blessed. I wouldn’t be sad if I hadn’t experienced so much joy with my family and coven. And I find so much solace in Theo who always has a hug for me when I am sad, an extra blanket when I am cold, and an airplane vomit bag when I am sick (his shed is like Mary Poppins’ handbag). This weekend he drove me around town to various bicycle shops so I could find my perfect bike and I was reminded at how much he caters to my whims and is invested in my happiness. And I feel very blessed indeed.


14 responses

  • Cossette, I’m sorry you’ve had such a tough month. Family illness and death IS the hardest thing we have to endure when we live so far from our original home. Two of my best friends, and my sister have died of cancer since we left Australia, and each time was tough, but I have also found blessings along the way, and for those I’m grateful, However, the most important thing for someone in our position is a supportive partner like yours (and mine).

    I hope your February shines for you.

  • Hi Cosette,

    Once again, I offer my deepest condolences.
    I often describe the distance between my friends and family as having the largest body of water in the world in between us but to be separated by a government is incomprehensible to me.
    I desperately miss my friends and communicate mainly through Facebook with them. In less than a year I have watched them get married, get divorced, find new love, get engaged, have babies, become widowed and become grandparents all through social media. They continue to invite me to their events (as I see they do you, lol) forgetting that I live in Australia now, and to borrow a line from you, “I’m not gonna make it”. I sometimes click on the “Maybe” on Facebook events so I can follow and be a part of the conversation but it can be depressing to not be able to enjoy those happy moments, the baby showers, and weddings, the milestones that I used to be there for and occasionally be the planner of. I was recently touched to receive a call from my BFF who was on the verge of tears because she misses me so much.
    You and Theo are truly blessed to have each other. I hope January leaves in a hurry for you and that the worst is over so you can enjoy the rest of 2013.

  • I am so sorry you’re having a rough time. International relationships bring with them some extra challenges… the obvious one being that someone is always far away from family. My heart goes out to you…

  • I’m so sorry to hear about your grandmother. I have two grandparents left, one on each side, and I’m dreading the day one of them passes away, as I know the odds of my being able to attend the funeral and be with my family are slim. I also know that I may never see my grandpa alive again, though I might get another visit or two in before my grandma passes away. I recall feeling much the same as you do now when my other grandpa passed away. I never really got a chance to know him when he was alive and I feel that I missed out on having a relationship with him. When he died, I was living abroad or in another state (I can’t remember) and couldn’t make it to his funeral. I so wished I could have been there for my mom and the rest of the family. You are right that is especially hard not to be able to be with family during the difficult times. I’m glad you have someone here that loves you and can comfort you when you are sad, even if it’s not the same as being able to hug your dad. And at least January is almost over.

  • I’m sorry to hear about your grandmother and it pains me even more to hear you weren’t able to get to know her very well. This is one of the reasons why I decided to come home after living abroad for two years. My American grandmother also died while I was living in Spain in September 2011. I was luckily able to fly home for the funeral (we knew it was coming and I told my mom right before I went back to Spain I wanted to be there), though it did cost us an arm and a leg.

    I like to think my grandmother is still out there somewhere (maybe heaven, maybe somewhere else) somehow taking part in our lives. I think the most important thing is our grandmothers are at peace and no longer suffering. They know they were loved and that’s all that really matters in the long run.

    • Thank you, Amelie. I agree with you about our beloved dead being out there somewhere and still involved in our lives. Those family bonds never break.

  • I am so very sorry to hear of your loss. I cannot imagine being so far away and feeling helpless at such a time. Although this was not one of your best months this time will pass and better things will be on the horizon. Life is meant to be lived and sometimes that means dealing with the downs as much as the ups. Keep your chin up and take some much needed time to yourself to deal with this tough time. (I highly recommend Yoga, I am hooked on it) Remind yourself that tough times have come and gone before and this will too. Keep your grandmother in your memory and honor that. My grandfather died 5 years ago today. This morning I started my day off with a meditation honoring him and his memory. It made me smile and feel grateful I had such an amazing person in my life.

    • Thank you, Amy. I very much believing in honoring the memory of our ancestors. Funny you mention yoga. I haven’t practiced yoga since college, but there’s a bikram yoga studio nearby and I’ve been thinking of giving it a try. What kind of yoga do you practice?


Leave a Reply