The last time I saw my brother, he was only an 8 year old boy and it was hard for him to understand why I wouldn’t be able to spend any more weekends with him playing cowboys and indians in the backyard. I was almost 15 at the time and I was about to embark in a life changing experience.
I would be leaving Cuba forever and moving to another country with my mother, my stepfather and my 3 years old half sister. My parents had divorced when I was 1 year old and they eventually remarry and had children with their new spouses. My brother was born 7 years later. My father religiously picked me up every other weekend and took me to his new home where I would play with my brother every hour of the day.
Costa Rica was my new country, and although I was excited about making new friends and visiting new places, there was a part of me that longed for those summer days where me and my brother would climb trees, build small camp fires or just tease each other until one of us would get mad. Then, just when I was adapting to my new country, I received the news that my father had passed away unexpectedly. It was a hard blow for me, but I know that it was even harder for my brother, as he was completely attached to him.
But time has the tendency to heal wounds, or at least cover them with a soothing balsam and I eventually enrolled in school, and went on to college. Later on, my family moved again, this time to the U.S. and through the years I kept contact with my brother by sporadic letters, or telephone calls.
Eventually I married and had children on my own, and I began more frequent contacts with my brother, mainly by phone calls once or twice a month. Then the urge to see him again began growing and we would talk on the phone about the day were the dream would become a reality.
The opportunity came in 2000, when my wife and I decided that instead of us going to Cuba, we would invite him to go to Costa Rica and meet him there. Somehow I felt that meeting in Costa Rica would allow me to share an experience with him I never had an opportunity to do and perhaps relive my memories of that wonderful place I once called home, but this time with my brother next to me. Besides, it would be the first time for him traveling abroad and I wanted him to see and experience things he has never seen or done.
The memorable day when we reunited at San Juan International Airport in San Jose was a beautiful sunny afternoon in July, 2000. I saw him walking slowly out of the terminal looking around trying to find me. When our eyes met, we just ran to each other and I gave my brother the longest hug I have ever given anybody.
I felt that somehow we were trying to erase 20 years apart with a simple embrace. And perhaps we did as we both felt closed to each other again after only a couple of minutes. We both cried, so my wife and my Costa Rican friends who accompanied us to the airport. It was an emotional moment for everybody.
My little brother was now much taller than me and skinnier too, but his eyes and facial expressions were still the same, especially the way he would twitch his lower lip whenever he would get excited about something. Just as he did when he was a little boy.
For a week and a half we rediscovered each other again. We soon realized that we had the same taste in food, and we shared the same family values. My wife kept saying “you two act so much alike that it seems like you grew up together”
It was a wonderful vacation. I took my brother to the same beaches, parks and volcanoes I once visited when I lived in Costa Rica. I wanted to share every pleasant memory I had of my years in Costa Rica with him to the point that I even took him to my favorite little pastry shop where they sold the most delicious croissants I’ve ever eaten.
For a wonderful 12 days we were kids again. We played jokes on each other and like before I usually got the upper hand. The only difference is that this time, we never got mad.
Soon it was time to return to our countries and we hugged once last time at the airport. But this time it was different, we had planned to see each other again the following year and this time I would bring my children, so they could meet their uncle.
There were not sad goodbyes, only a farewell full of hope for the near future when we would see each other again.
The next year, we reunited again and he was able to meet my children. This time he stayed in Costa Rica after he received a job offer. Two years later he came to the U.S and began a new life like I did many years ago. We now live close by and see each other almost every week. We are talking about taking another vacation together with our families to… where else?