One of my very favorite pictures in the world hangs above my office chair.
It's my mom, her mother (abuela) and my grandfather's sister (Josefina, aka Fifi).
I was about 7 weeks pregnant with Zoe and had flown from Tallahassee to South Florida for a little, well, let's be honest... a little shopping. And pool-sitting. General relaxation, South Florida style.
I didn't look at all pregnant, but I wanted to take a picture with my family so I shoved a pillow under my dress. Mom and abuela did the same with their shirts. Fifi sat on a chair telling us we were loco y sinverguenza.
The picture dad snapped at that moment caught 4 women laughing loudly.
Fast forward to today. Zoe gets a box from the Cuban tooth fairy, sent to my abuelos for them to forward to her. You remember the story.
I call to say thank you.
And find out Fifi died today.
I can't even wrap my mind or heart around this yet. But I think there won't be a funeral.
The last funeral we had in the family was for Fifi's daughter, Miriam who was murdered in the 1980s. Long story, big tragedy. Miriam was only 24 and laughed like me. Like Fifi. Like all the women in our family.
So it was hard to sit quietly at a funeral. We had relatives visiting from Cuba, and it was -- well, tense. Everyone was shocked, exhausted, edgy.
My brother was eating a merangue -- and I shoved it into his face. It squished like a big old cream pie.
He retaliated with lasagne (what was it doing in Little Havana anyway???)
More people joined in our silent fight. I think there were maduros, black beans and rice, and some sort of fried meat.
My mother was embarassed, stern, angry. She managed to get us to clean up QUIETLY and several non-English speakers didnt even notice the tiny melee.
Fifi? She laughed at our food fight. Probably the only laugh she got for weeks.
When it hits me that she's gone, I'm going to cry.
A big sobbing cry. I can't do that now, alone at home with the kids.
Every time one of us dies, I think a bit of Cuba goes with them.