When A Friend Leaves / Rebeca Monzo

Painting on silk, by Rebeca

It’s very sad, indeed it is! They leave you a tremendous emptiness and you feel as if something broke inside of you.

In all parts of the world friends come and go, because they travel. They’re lost for a time and then reappear, they call you on the cell phone, you send them messages, they reply. But, here “on my planet,” when a friend leaves, it’s as if something died inside you. You know you won’t see them again in many years, maybe ever. You also don’t have a cell phone to call him or her, never mind the Internet, facebook, and all those marvelous things not at the disposal of the immense majority of us.

In my case, in particular, almost all my friends have gone away on me, but since I’m so stubborn, I make new ones. It’s not an easy thing. Above all, they have to speak your language (as you know), otherwise it’s very difficult to converse.

A few years ago one of my most beloved friends left me. We wrote letters to each other for a while, we dreamed of sitting down together over a cafecito to chat here at home, or at the Versailles*, it didn’t matter to us. My friend died and we never got to fulfill that dream.

Now, a great friend of ours has just left. We’re happy for him, but he’s left behind a tremendous emptiness.

This situation has been going on continuously now for half a century. Too much time! When they say goodbye, because they’re going to travel, it’s about time for families and friends not to have to leave us with that bitter taste in our mouths and that terrible sensation in the pit of our stomachs.

*Translator’s note: Rebeca is referring to the Versailles Restaurant, a now legendary and iconic dining institution among Southern Florida’s Cuban community; located on Calle Ocho (8th Street) in Little Havana.

Translated by: Yoyi el Monaguillo

August 30, 2010