What Remains After the Tragedy

04/01/2015 02:15 pm ET | Updated Jun 01, 2015

Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, 30 March 2015 -- There are clothes scattered across the mountains; open suitcases; children's dolls that will never be played with again; things that belonged to people who, until recently, were alive, and of whom barely a memory is left; a trail of goods that will be sorted and conveyed to the families of the victims. The tragedy of Germanwings A320, which crashed in the French Alps, makes me reflect, like many others, on the brief second that separates us from death. A suicidal leader, a madman at the helm, a war unleashed by others -- a thousand and one ways to die that life brings us.

One evening in 1985, my family sat around the set table, waiting for Grandma. She never came, because two drunks in the middle of a brawl had fatally wounded her in a nearby café. Her plate remained on the table, cold, alone, with the spoon to its side and a glass of water making a round, wet mark on the wood. Afterwards there were her shoes, the wallet where she treasured her money, and a nutmeg. There were her clothes hanging in the wardrobe, along with some photos from her youth; we never got to ask her about where they'd been taken.

The things the dead leave us are sometimes more difficult to deal with than the memories themselves. What to do with that note they wrote before leaving home to remember to buy eggs, salt and a little oil? Their drawers, the sheets they slept in during their last night, the cookies they liked so much? How to quiet the way the comb speaks, still with their hair; the Facebook account in which they recorded their last "like"; or that red circle on the calendar that marked their birthday?

The things the dead leave us have their own voice. They remind us every time we look at them that in that fabric, wielding that pen, or looking into that mirror, until yesterday, had been someone who breathed and whom we loved.

14ymedio, Cuba's first independent daily digital news outlet, published directly from the island, is available in Spanish here. English translations of selected articles are here.