By Davy V.
I've never really been comfortable seeing people celebrating someone's death.
Which is why this morning when I awoke to the news of Fidel Castro's death, I had mixed emotions when I saw video of Cubans in Miami, out in full force on Calle Ocho, popping champagne bottles and banging pots and pans, celebrating Castro's death.
Then I remembered my Tia Marta.
My aunt left Cuba and came to the United States in 1961, seven years before my parents and my brother MJ.
A couple of years ago, while vacationing in Miami with my children, my aunt told me she wanted me to take a few things with me when I left.
She pointed to a box in a corner of her small studio apartment which contained several photo albums, as well as sone old manila envelopes.
While I was happy that my aunt was giving me her collection of mementos, including photos of me as a child, it was also a little sad.
You see, my aunt who had begun having some health issues, wanted to make sure that the photo albums and priceless family memories would be safe, and knowing my love for photography, she was in essence, passing them onto me.
Later, after returning from vacation, I slowly started going through all the photos.
Then I began looking through what was inside the manila envelopes.
And that's when my eyes began to tear up.
Packed along with every letter I had written to my aunt as a child, my aunt had saved at least a dozen copies of letters she had written to several U.S. Presidents, pleading with them to help bring her brother (my uncle Armando) and her nephew Eduardo.
My uncle Armando and my cousin Eduardo died in Cuba years ago.
They never made it out of Castro's totalitarian dictatorship.
But through those letters that my aunt wrote, those letters to presidents which fell on deaf ears, I realized just how much my aunt tried to get her family, or what remained of her family, to join her here in the U.S.
It was her dream.
A dream that never came true.
Following the response by the Cuban community in Miami to Castro's death, social media is flooded with comments putting Cubans down.
Especially the ones celebrating in Miami.
Most Americans just don't understand.
Castro ruined lives.
My grandfather, on my father's side, a cattle rancher in Cuba, lost everything he worked for, overnight, when Castro took power in 1959.
My aunt left her mother and her entire family behind in search of freedom, and a better life here.
So did my mom.
And my dad also left his family behind, never to see them again.
As a child I remember my dad receiving the Western Union telegrams, telling him, in one or two short sentences, that my his brothers, and sister, my uncles and aunt, had passed away.
Each telegram took a toll on my dad.
He just tried his best not to show it.
But they did.
That whole old school, don't show your emotions thing.
But like most Cubans who fled Cuba, leaving family behind never to see them again, he was hurt.
Unlike most Americans, I never met my grandparents.
I myself never knew the touch of my grandmother.
I never got to feel what it was like to sit on her lap.
I never knew what it felt like to hug my grandad.
All things many Americans take for granted.
My aunt passed away recently in Miami.
She died knowing that the hijo de puta who outlived 6 U.S. Presidents, still held her beautiful Homeland and its people, hostage, albeit through his brother Raul Castro.
Me and my Tia in Miami (1978)
I don't know if I was in Miami, if I'd be popping champagne bottles and banging pots and pans in Little Havana, celebrating Castro's death.
But I understand them.
And perhaps, even more important, as an American, I respect and support their right to express themselves.
Something Castro never allowed Cubans to do.
CUBANS IN MIAMI'S LITTLE HAVANA CELEBRATE CASTRO'S DEATH