I was an only child until my only brother Daniel Mario Rodriguez was born in 1963. Because both of my parents' families were all in Cuba, my mother worried about me if something should happen--god forbid, she'd say, I would not want you to be left alone in this country. She told me she wanted me to have a sibling so that I would never be left alone. She never imagined that something would happen to him because he left us. Too young, too good for this world. Danny was 52 and his health declined rapidly in the summer of 2015. When I was in NY/NJ promoting Oye, he went into the hospital for the first time of seven times over the next four months until he died on October 12, 2015.
Danny and I had birthdays two weeks apart in the spring so my mom always dressed us up for Easter and had formal portraits. She documented our babyhood, childhood and beyond; there are thousands of photos in boxes in her closet and now accumulating in mine as she begins to hand over what will ultimately by my inheritance. Some years ago she gave me boxes of Super 8 home movies. Without a projector, they were stowed under my bed until this summer when I thought about incorporating them in a performance. What a treasure trove, such a powerful testament to how hard my parents worked to give us a happy and healthy childhood. I will be writing a memoir about these films, my brother, our American lives.
My grief peaked in December when I was finished with the hardest semester I'd had in years--I hadn't allowed myself to feel. I pushed and pushed through the semester until it was over and then emotion took over and the holidays were anything but merry. It wasn't until my daughter and new husband came home after the new year that my spirits lifted.
A new year, so much possibility and hope. I am so glad for it.