Cuba 2016

An Item Off The Bucket List

Cuba 2016
The shell

A cousin is diagnosed with stage four breast cancer and wants to go back to Cuba. She wants to bring the dog she left at her mother-in-law’s house, to the beach for the first time. The phone rings at 6:00 am that morning. I answer my cell to a frantic voice on the other end. She says “I had a dream last night and haven’t been able to go back to sleep since. I have been trying to figure out how to make it happen and I need your help.”. Still a little dazed I answered “Sure, What’s up?”. She replies “In my dream I was able to bring Thor to the beach. I have not had a chance to do that yet. I know he will just love it. Sorry for calling so early but this has been on my bucket list since my diagnosis. Will you come to Cuba with me so I can do this?”. A little more awake now, I say “of course! But have you talked to your doctors and when do we leave?”. Fast forward to a beach in Cuba with a sick cousin who has lost all her hair and her oh so happy dog. Thor is frolicking in the water and running through the sand. My cousin is enjoying every minute of it from her towel on the beach. She can’t move much without hurting but watching her dog have the kind of fun she knew he would brings the biggest smile to her face. She forgets her pain for just that one perfect moment. She looks down at the sand and sees a sea shell. The sea shell in this picture. She holds it up for me so I can take a picture of it. The years that pass aren't so easy. I try to be there for my cousin who is going through so much. Fast forward now to 2019. I get to hold my cousin’s hand in the hospital before her last dying breaths. The hand that held that small shell those few years before. That picture reminds me that I was a small part of getting her to Cuba to cross that item off her bucket list and the happiness that trip to rustic Cuba brought her. I did not edit that photo and left it as raw as she was at the time. I hope one day to get that image tattooed near my breast as a symbol of love and respect for the woman that battled a disease that robs so many of a normal life. Some survive and some do not, but my cousin will live on in my heart forever and so will the moments that brought us together. I feel fortunate to have been a part of a life that was cut so short. Fortunate to have had my camera with me to capture that moment in time that I can never get back. Someone once asked me why I take so many pictures when I’m out in nature and why can’t I just put my camera down and enjoy the moment. First off, for me, viewing the world through my camera is me living in the moment. Secondly, I can call up those images anytime I want, to relive those moments over and over again. Something that will be more precious to me as my actual memories fade. There are photos that make me smile, some that make me cry and some that invoke emotions that only a certain photo can provide like the one I have shared with you here today. So let’s capture many more of those photos in life! Photos full of colour, meaning and love, now and always!

extended family
Anna Spano Guarino
Anna Spano Guarino
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Anna Spano Guarino

Even as a little girl I loved to read and write stories. Most times it was an escape and a way to live a new adventure. Other times it was to express my creativity and imagination. Welcome to my world.

See all posts by Anna Spano Guarino