Christina Valeriana Gonzalez Cuba I think the years that my husband spent in prison in Cuba destroyed his spirit in many ways. After that he was very emotional and quiet. He was a policeman for Batista before the revolution, so he was punished for opposing Castro. He saw many people lose their lives there, and he had a hard time living with those memories. We were also Jehovah’s Witness, which was restricted along with most religious expression, so we were considered “undesirables” in our own society. We lost everything we had, as homes and businesses became property of the state. There was a slogan, “Patria o Muerte”: Homeland or Death. We could never really stand behind Castro’s government, nor did we renounce our religion, so we were labeled “counterrevolutionaries.” All those years we spent with watchful eyes on us. There were eggs thrown at our house; they called us “virus” and “worms.” We had to meet with our congregation in secret. There were some good things that came as a result of “Socialismo,” but in the end I think everyone has suffered. I think the worst thing was that families were torn apart. So many people fled the country and then spent years without seeing their loved ones again. In Cuba, family is everything. In 1992 my husband, daughter, and I left Cuba in the middle of the night in a small airplane, an exodus provided by a refugee program in the United States. We were lucky not to have to try that journey by sea. We left our house and all our possessions, without saying goodbye to family and friends. We just walked out of our lives. We landed in Miami with nothing but our clothes and built our new lives here little by little. In Seattle there are not many Cubans, but our church gives us a community. My husband started his own business, and we were able to buy a house. My daughter was married and has two boys who are now the center of our lives. In Cuba now, there is another saying, “No es facile”: It’s not easy. We had our dreams, but also our illusions. Before we left Cuba, my husband said that he didn’t want to die there, not the way it was. I think he always had in his mind that we would be able to go back someday. He passed away three years ago without ever seeing that happen. He always called me “Cielo,” or Heaven. I do miss him and struggle with the loss. I’ve had to have two knee replacements, so I have some pain along with my sadness. We are surviving and have many blessings, but it is not easy.