Idania del Río, the owner of the graphic design shop Clandestina, in Havana.CreditCreditYamil Lage/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Turning Point: Raúl Castro resigns as Cuba’s president.

“It was yours,” my mother announced. She held out a girl’s blue school uniform.

She’s 82 now and still surprises me with mementos she took from Cuba and has kept packed away since the ‘60s.

A star was sewn onto the front and it had a thick hem to be let out as I grew.

“Don’t you remember?”

I shook my head.

“You wore it when you were 4 years old. You went to the same Jewish day school in Havana that I went to. Classes were in Spanish and Yiddish. Wasn’t that amazing? Then Castro came.”

I grew up, as did so many children of Cuban exiles, traumatized by what my parents had lost in the revolution of 1959 led by Fidel Castro. They had believed in the social reforms Castro envisioned — equal rights for women and Afro-Cubans, free day care, land for farmers, housing for the poor, health care for all and education for every child — and felt betrayed by his turn to authoritarianism and communism.

Like other exiles of their generation, my parents refuse to return to the island. They prefer to hold on to their memories of a vanished Cuba. For nearly 30 years I’ve been going back on my own, trying to understand what Cuba has become.

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