Maria Matienzo Puerto
HAVANA TIMES — I’ve sensed death nearby. Sometimes when I cross the street I’ll see it reflected on the hood of a car, or I’ll see it in the basement of my building, or in the face of someone passing by me.
But what’s so screwed up about all these perceptions is when I experience them in relation to friends. This is when you’re never sure if the news is true, because it comes to you through a friend who was told by another friend who found out about it on one of those sketchy Facebook posts that come to us intermittently.
And then there’s no way to verify if the news is true or if it’s just one of those bad jokes that life plays and that you can never corroborate yourself.
The situation is that ever since I can remember, my friend Francois has wanted to travel to the Yuma (abroad). He finally managed to make it in June of last year, when he least imagined it and through the most unexpected way.
Damn! Look how messed up life is. After a little more than a year, he’s dead! That’s it. With no explanations, no clinical histories from people who knew he was going to die, without having prepared ourselves, without any warning that it was possible for our friend to remain gone forever.
Because even when someone’s in the Yuma, there’s always the possibility they’ll come for a visit or they’ll stop by and you’ll see them.
But this is what happened, after spending his whole life in Cuba, wanting to leave the island, banging his head against the system figuring out how to survive; dreaming of a visa, of a decent meal, of escaping misery, imagining he’d not have to fight against an imaginary omniscient enemy, thinking he’d be able to live without political pressure.
He had the aspirations of an average Cuban, and suddenly death came, while he was only in his thirties.
(Here I’d add another sentence, but I’m sure my editor wouldn’t publish it.)
Hopefully it’s just a rumor. Hopefully Francois is somewhere enjoying a good steak, and when he hears about my diary entry he’ll laugh and write me.
This is the only fear of death I have. That which reaches me through friends and I won’t know whether to believe it and cry or to deny it and laugh.