Passage to Pain…

© 2011 By Marta VanGerwen

It was like so many other days where the sun shined its brilliance upon the beautiful coast of Cuba. But on this particular day amidst the refreshing coastal air there would be heartache and sadness.  The backdrop was a seaport where a very large ship stood filled with children.  Pandemonium, sadness, and separation could be seen everywhere.  Moms and dads clinging to their children, sons and daughters sobbing, uncles, aunts and grandparents painfully saying their farewells.  Right there submerged in the emotion of all the activity is where my life would take a sudden and dramatic turn. 

I was born in Havana, Cuba during the time of Castro’s insurgence.  I have many memories of Cuba, but the one that carved its most significant imprint on my life was that day on the seaport.  I was five years old and my brother was eleven.  From a distance I spotted the activity. There were people everywhere looking lost, confused and very sad.  Children walking up the ships ramp without their parents, and countless kids lined up on the ship’s deck crying and waving at their parents.

As we got closer to the commotion my mom gripped my hand as if to prepare me for what was about to strike our family. My small little mind could not wrap itself around the seriousness of what was taking place.  Something was not right.  I looked up at my mother to catch a glimpse of comfort but she was drenched in her own emotion.

I glanced at the ship, then at my mother, then at the numerous children waving from the ship.  I looked at the people crying and waving good-bye to their kids and the countless children walking up the ramp.   And then without warning, reality struck like a lightning bolt through my heart.  “No, I don’t want to go!” I looked at my mom, and said, “You are coming with me, right?”  Kneeling down to make eye contact with me, my mom said, “No, I can’t.  But I will see you very soon.”  Frantically I said, “Please come with me Mommy, I’m scared.  I don’t want to go. Please!”

Desperately trying to be strong for her two children, my mom begins to direct us to the ships ramp where she is about to make one of the greatest sacrifices a mother can make.  The ships last call echoed throughout the port.  The excruciating final moment had arrived.  My brother began to peel me away from my mom as I drastically held onto the only security my little life had known.  But to no avail my destiny was out of my control.  My brother gently escorted me up the ramp as I wept profusely.  Within seconds I found a spot on the deck where I could see my mom and dad and began to wave at them as the ship sailed away.   My eyes remained glued to my mom, who was immersed in her own tears of relinquishment and sacrifice, as she watched her only two children sail away into the sunset. 

“Bye Mommy, I love you.  I will miss you.” I whispered to myself, as my heart nudged into complete chaos.  The ship sailed further and further away and my life’s purpose seemingly diminished.  My parents were in a desperate situation.  Life in Cuba was changing quickly and dramatically.  The only option they had was to send us away.  Unbeknownst to them was the extent of their sacrifice, and what they were truly rescuing us from:  the communist takeover of Cuba by Fidel Castro.

From that point on I would view my life through the lens of pain and heartache.   My perspective was tarnished and my heart would set sail on its own lifelong journey to find hope and healing.  Whether it is pain, disappointment, failures or regret life has a way of revealing to us just how much we really are not in control.  You may be reading this and have your own painful story.  Maybe you were plunged into a journey which you did not choose, and you carry the marks of abandonment, rejection or hurt.  You may be regretting poor decisions you have made in your life that have left you with painful consequences.

I have found that it has been in the most difficult moments that I have experienced the magnificence of a God that loves us and desires to heal our shattered hearts.  No matter what has happened God has a plan for our lives.  Whether we are in the midst of the hardest trial we have ever been in, or are living with what seems like an impossible situation God is still in control and He can work all things out for our good. 

More to come in Risendreams..…and I hope you come back and visit again…

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

 © 2011 Marta VanGerwen                      

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.



6 thoughts on “Passage to Pain…

  1. Well sister, interesting that us as humans have such visions of something that happened so long ago. Of course you forgot some small details, such as the one when you could no longer see mom and dad you figured that climbing the chimney on a 3 chimney steamship would be a good angle.
    So, I lose my sister in amist the crowd, I look, I ask and as if God had guided my sight I see you about 4-50 feet up the service stairs.
    At this point I decided to get you down and a nun and a deck hand saw what was going on, I kept climbing knowing that the longer these people looked and analyzed the further you would climb. You were determined confused and just outright willing to go higher in order to see mom and dad (not knowing that by now thy were the size of ants and you had no chance to see them, I got you down, (I dont like heights.)
    The next few days were a blurr, I made sure I kept an eye on you because I was scared too, and 2 scareds are better than one.

  2. So, so much to be said just about the first 20 days. A culture change, a climate change and so on. BUT the most important thing of all must have been the looks we gave each other as things surfaced daily, like ” what was that” or what is that”. I remember you not being scared but eyes that would ask OK “joke over where is mom and who are this people??”
    What happened to us was what happened to over a half a million children.
    We went to live with relatives, but the culture was so diferent.
    I remember asking where the bath room was, In Cuba we had all the modern stuff, TV, Radio and Bathrooms, in Spain the village had one radio (for soccer games), no tv and no bathrooms …. I know that my struggle was smaller because I was 12 but the culture change must have been bigger for you. Instead of trains, planes and cars, we had cows, hogs and chickens. I cant but think of the pain our parents went through gettin out of cuba and not having us with them. The pain was spread around pretty good, but we are here, alive and our 87 year old mom is wonderwoman.

  3. Marta… I could hear your voice as I was reading because I’ve heard you tell this very touching story in person. Keep up the good work! Love, Margaret

  4. Dear Marta, tears, tears and more tears…….oh. how flooded memories filled my soul…..on my way to work…get. back to ya…<3 u!

  5. WOW!! What a journey. I was in tears reading your story and can relate with how you and your brother felt… I’m the youngest of six and when I was 7years old; my mom had to leave me in Ethiopia to live with relatives. My father and siblings were all living in the U.S. and for political reasons the Ethiopian government would not allowing me to go with my mom. Although I was living with family… it’s not the same without my parents and sisters/brothers. Needless to say…. we are all (parents and siblings) now live in the U.S. and are truly blessed  God is the captain of our ship… we just need to do our part and surrender to the journey and purpose he leads us through…. Thanks for sharing my dear friend….Blessing to you and your family!

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