|"Marta" and "Luis"-Then and now|
In honor of Valentine's Day, this coming Tuesday, I'd like to share a true love story of my friends, and how they found each other after almost 40 years of leading separate lives.
"Luis" and "Marta" (not their real names) were noviecitos or sweet hearts in our beach side town of Santa Fe, Cuba during the early 1960's. They both taught catechism to the young children in our parish. Marta's grandmother, in particular, loved Luis. "He's so handsome and sweet" she would tell her grand daughter.
Fidel Castro, and his communist regime, came to power and Marta's parents knew they had to leave the island. She was 15 at the time and it broke her heart to have to leave the love of her young life behind.
Marta and her family came to the U.S. like so many others, and settled in Yonkers, NY. She missed Luis terribly since he stayed behind with his family, who were all on the island. Life went on and Marta believed that she could get Luis out of Cuba if only she could claim him as her spouse, since this was the only viable way of getting a loved one out of Cuba, at that time. If was referred to as "reclaiming" or reclamar a relative. So they agreed to a proxy marriage. Marta's grandmother stood in her place, next to Luis, during the marriage ceremony in Cuba.
However, even with the civil marriage established, no one was getting out of Cuba, legally by this time, so Luis stayed behind in spite of their efforts. He thought he would never see his “niña bonita” again. Life went on and seeing that there was no way out, he met someone and married.
Marta was devastated but her father encouraged her to forget about him and go on with her life. A dissolution of marriage had been gotten but Marta never forgot Luis. Ever. She, too, married and had two daughters.
Fast forward 38 years. Marta is now living in Miami, after having divorced her husband. Luis has finally left Cuba via Mexico and is now settled in south Florida too.
A group of friends from Santa Fe started meeting regularly at La Habana Vieja restaurant on Coral Way, in Miami. Everyone enjoyed seeing old friends and re-telling favorite stories. Around this time, Marta started going to these reunions. Luis did too. Emotions that had been buried for so long started to surface. They felt like a couple of teenagers in love again. Neither one had ever forgotten the other and there was no stopping them this time.
They have now been married, again, for nearly 10 years. Marta says that her dreams have all come true when she reconnected with Luis. "My grandmother would have been so happy to know that we're finally together and married-again", she says. Luis is still the love of her life and it’s evident that she is the same for him too. They act like a pair of deliriously happy teenagers who are very much in love!
Happy Valentines Day!