Moving beyond Castro's death, the future of Cuba's relationship with the U.S. is complicated and unclear.
Perhaps the most painful legacy of past and present tension has been decades of family division. Between revolution and embargo, 90 miles has separated families physically and politically for generations.
For Carmen Garcia Puente that separation is physical and personal. She turned 87 on Monday. Another birthday without her only daughter.
Carmen has suffered multiple strokes and has trouble speaking, but her pain is understood.
Like many native Cubans, Carmen's daughter Lissette Bustamante used to travel between countries to visit family.
As a young journalist, she gained access to Fidel Castro's close circles. From Spain in 2008 she published a book on the current leader Raul Castro, in the shadow of Fidel.
Now living in Miami, for Lissette to travel across Florida straits to see her ailing mother depends on government permission. Permission, Carmen says, her daughter hasn't been granted in nearly 3 years
"It's not right" Carmen says in Spanish. She says can't make sense of it.
In between tears, when asked about her thoughts on Fidel Castro's death, Carmen said it's better for her to stay quiet.
Julia Bagg is on assignment in Cuba. Follow her on Twitter at @JuliaNBC6 for behind the scenes action as she covers the death of Fidel Castro.