MIAMI — Gina Fuster stepped away from the honking cars, the crowds, the Cuban flags on Miami's Eighth Street and passed through a pair of iron gates three blocks away.
With a bouquet of purple and yellow daisies, she walked along the curving road inside Little Havana's Woodlawn Park North Cemetery and stepped gingerly around the tombstones until she found her father's name: Dr. Jose R. Rodriguez Alvarez.
Fuster was among several families that, a day after news of Fidel Castro's death exploded in Miami, visited the graves of relatives who fled Cuba decades ago and began new lives here. Many clung to the hope they would live to see Cuba free of Castro someday.
"My father was one of those Cubans that came in the 1960s and said he would be gone in a week," Fuster said. "The week never ended."
She placed the flowers in a vase near his grave. She kneeled on the grass, crossed herself and bowed her head.
For a moment, the shouting on Calle Ocho stopped.
A few yards away, Antolin Garcia Carbonell knelt in front of a tombstone and sobbed.
"I had to come and tell them," he said.
He paced the grass slowly, searching for the plaques of his grandparents and parents. The family left Cuba together in 1960, when Garcia was 8 years old.
He dropped a flower on each of their graves and whispered: "Murió Fidel."
Maggie Cayon came to the cemetery with a Cuban flag. It was for her father, who died two years ago from cancer.
If he were alive, Cayon said, he would be out there driving on Calle Ocho, honking his car horn, celebrating the end of Castro's era.
"I wish," she said, "he would have been here."
Contact Laura C. Morel at [email protected] Follow @LauraCMorel.