A scan of my mother, Luisa Yanes’, Cuban passport. My family arrived in Miami in 1968. She and her sisters only expected to be in America for a few years. They have never returned.

Luisa waits out a rainstorm in the back of car in Miami. When she dreams, she dreams of Cuba, regardless if she’s awake or asleep, she is still walking the streets of Santiago.

My mother and her two sisters, Cadige (left) and Martha (center), prepare a package to send to Cuba. Despite the decades of separation, the two families have never lost touch.

My mother texts family in Cuba as my aunts put the final touches on the package. More access to the internet and wifi has made immediate conversation and connection possible.

Santiago, the second city. My mothers birthplace and the birthplace of the revolution.

My cousins Isabella and Thiago, rest in the back of a taxi in Havana. In the first days I met them we would wander the streets of Havana for hours and make up for lost time.

Manolo Paumier, my mother’s cousin stands in his kitchen in Santiago. Wherever my mother went, he went. He has not seen them since the separation.

Manolo holds up a photo of my mother’s great grandparents, Caridad Eman and Mariano Paumier. Mariano was a boat maker and a carpenter. The separation haunted him to the end.

Isabella pauses to check her hair and snap a selfie before heading out for the day in Havana. Despite the limited connection on the island there is no shortage of smartphones or selfies.

My family sifts through old photos in Santiago. My family held on to prints from the 50’s and 60’s. It was some of the last memories they had of my family before they fled.

Pedro ‘Pepe’ Cruz laughs after seeing a photo of his wedding that he had not seen in decades.

Manolo prepares dinner in Santiago in the backyard as his wife, Maria, laughs. He arranged for lechón because he had extended family visiting him for the first time in years. It was the first time I had met him.

Pepe takes a nap after eating lechon in Santiago at Luis’ home. It was a sweltering day and the only comfort from the heat was the small fan in the room.

Manolo leads my sister, Mariana, down the street, in Santiago, where my mother grew up. Luis told her stories about my mother, stories we had never heard before about growing up on that street. Mariana couldn’t stop staring at my mother’s home. It was her first time visiting Cuba.

At our home in Miami, my mother reads a letter that my family has prepared. I hand carried the letter back to the states. It was the first time that my family was able to speak freely about their situation. They implored my family to come back and visit them before it’s too late.

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