A reward of my blogging and other work on behalf of a free Cuba are the friendships I have made with readers and fellow activists and their families. The common cause of Cuba, advocacy for which can be frustrating and maddening and disappointing, has also provided me with some of the best people and best friends in my life.
This week, I have been grieving the death of one of my new friends, Jose Feliciano.
The irony is, Jose wasn't Cuban, but he did the next best thing and married Cuban. A couple of years ago, Jose's widow, Patsy, provide me an entre into the Cuban American community in Tampa, inviting me to speak at a rally after the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo. From that experience, and a few others like it, blossomed a friendship with Patsy, Jose, their family and many others.
Jose didn't take a back seat at these events. He was right in the mix, right alongside Patsy, a charisamatic, passionate advocate for freedom in a country she left in a small boat when only a teenager. The cause was his, too.
But Cuba was only part of our friendship.
Jose was a renaissance man, a scholar, a teacher, a computer geek but more importantly, a good husband, a good son, a good father and a good friend. When we were around, his family and his friends were what was most important.
He was always welcoming, whether at his home or on the beach where I last saw him less than a month ago. He introduced us to Puerto Rican mofongo and coquito, and in turn, we turned him on to ropa vieja pizza. Jose was an example for me and others around him.
Jose was kind and generous, and never had an unkind word for anyone. He loved life.
Many are grieving Jose's death but for long after the saddness lifts, his life and how he lived it and loved it, will inspire.
Please remember Jose and his family -- Patsy; his sons, Jean-Pierre, Alexander and Daniel; his mother and siblings; his in-laws; and his many friends and colleagues -- in your prayers.