“For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. ‘Therefore turn and live!'”
Scripture tells us in the Book of Ezekiel that God does not rejoice in the death of a sinner. We all know that when death calls us, all are alike and all end up in the grave. But, this week, I find myself ignoring those Scriptures and wise sayings. Fidel Castro has died. The man who has figured as a devil in all the mythology of the Cuban Exile has died. I know that Cuba will not change. In fact, there is no guarantee that Cuba will get either better or worse. But, for those of us who are Cuban and who have lived in exile, this is a grand week. Fidel Castro is dead! He has gone to meet his judgment.
Of course I know that Raul Castro will simply continue his policies. I know that change may not come at all before my death. But, Fidel Castro is dead. Part of me urges me to be rational. I would not have met my wife except for Fidel Castro. I would not have the same children I now have if I had stayed in Cuba. I might never have become a missionary and a practicing Christian had Fidel Castro not existed. But, Fidel Castro is dead! That is a refrain that keeps running through my mind. But, it does not simply run through my mind. It gallops. It leaps. It laughs. It says that the man who caused so much pain to my family and to so many other Cubans has finally had to answer for his crimes. Fidel Castro is dead. I am not supposed to rejoice in the death of a sinner, and yet I find myself breaking out in laughter every so often and in rejoicing that he has died. Fidel Castro is dead.
My daughters and my grandchildren are citizens of the USA and will never be citizens of Cuba. They may never know the island where I spent my childhood. His actions changed my history to another history. Yet, Fidel Castro is dead. I do not regret my wonderful children and my wife. I do not really want another life than the life that I have. I could hypothesize forever over what might have been. It is not worth it. I love my wife and my children and cannot imagine not having them. But, Fidel Castro is dead. And, part of me rejoices in his death. So, I have these conflicted feelings.
I am supposed to forgive. I realize that some of what Castro did was not evil. But, I also have family that I have never met. I do not have the typical extended family network that a Latino would have. I have gone through poverty and hardship thanks to that man. And, Fidel Castro is dead and I cannot summon up that bit of Christian piety and mercy that I am supposed to have toward another human being. Fidel Castro is dead and I find myself only saying, “good.” I have gone through all my intellectual and biblical arguments and all I can think about is that Fidel Castro is dead.
May God forgive me better than I am able to forgive at this point. But, all I can think is that Fidel Castro is dead. And, for better or for worse, I am indeed rejoicing in the death of a sinner. May Our Lord have mercy on me and forgive my impious thoughts.