SURFACE, Fla. – Michael Noriega said he is still dealing with grief. Hilda Noriega, who left Cuba in 1960, had two children and he is one of her three grandchildren.
The 92-year-old matriarch had lived in Surfside’s Champlain Towers South for two decades. He remembers drinking Cuban coffee and talking to her on the balcony.
His grandmother was a fervent Catholic and had an active social life.
“She really lived for her faith, her family and her friends. She was just so full of love,” he said, adding, “It still hurts. Hard to believe it’s been a year already.”
On June 24, 2021, the Noriega family arrived to find that part of the building they lived in had turned into piles of concrete and residents’ belongings.
“One of the first things we saw was her patio furniture on top of the rubble because she lived on the sixth floor… it hit me so hard… I just remembered all the conversations we had after lunch and it was devastating said Michael Noriega.
The family was also able to recover items that made them feel like she was sending them a spiritual message.
“We found a birthday card that my grandmother had received from her friends in her prayer group the first night. Ironically, my father found it,” said Michael Noriega.
The family also found some family photos and a written prayer. Detectives also gave him a brown bag containing her six rosaries.
“It was almost like, ‘Oh my God! This is almost a full circle moment. This is the end. That’s all my grandma lived for.”
It is precisely the values that his grandmother taught him that help him overcome grief, said Michael Noriega.
“My three weapons were prayer, praise and people, and by that I mean that prayer should not be the last resort. It was meant to be a first response, and so every single day I went to God with my grief.”
Michael Noriega said he finds ways to honor her memory.
“My grandmother changed the mission of my life. I wasn’t able to live my life as usual. My life’s mission has been to carry her legacy… We will walk through a broken heart, but it doesn’t have to break your spirit.”
Graphic: The aftermath of the collapse
Copyright 2022 by WPLG Local10.com – All rights reserved.
https://www.local10.com/news/local/2022/06/23/surfside-building-collapse-man-uses-grandmothers-values-to-deal-with-grief/ Man uses grandmother’s values to deal with grief