Today marks the 6th anniversary of the death of my daughter, Carmineta, the oldest of our children. At only 22 years of age, she left us for heaven unexpectedly. Many times I’ve been asked how I can possibly keep going and overcome, and if I cry often in the corners of my house… Well, the truth is that I’m still emotional and sometimes tears do run down my cheeks. It’s normal, after all, we are only human and we have hearts made of flesh that are sensitive and can be crushed by so many events… But, we are happy!!
Carmineta entered the hospital for a surgery to change her pacemaker. The experts know that it’s not too complicated and virtually nobody dies in such an operation. But the operation became complicated because she had very weak veins that began to explode one after the other. In the hospital, they told us that they needed blood, and in one day we were able to get 1,000 bags of blood donated by friends, family, and acquaintances. When she died, we donated all of her organs and thanks to her other people were able to live, although we don’t know them. As you well know, Spain is a world leader in transplants.
When her heart finally stopped, we entered the room to give her a kiss and say our goodbyes. Afterward, my husband and I entered the chapel in the hospital and stayed a while to pray together before the Lord with others who wanted to accompany us at this moment. We didn’t understand anything and we begged God to help us. Broken with the pain we left for the house to go and tell the younger children since they would not let them enter the hospital. “We have to tell you some good news”, we said. The youngest ones then began to yell, “You’re expecting another baby!”, and they looked at my belly… when suddenly Tomas, who was 5, said, “Carmineta went to heaven”, and we hugged everyone with tears in our eyes…
We were lucky to be able to have the wake at our home. There was a nonstop river of people passing by to say their farewells to Carmineta. At this time, I had 15 kids in school and all their friends and parents wanted to come and accompany us for this difficult time. A brother of mine was responsible for corralling all the people in and out. At the foot of my daughter’s casket, we prayed many rosaries, sang many songs, cried many tears, and listened to stories about my daughter from just about everyone.
After 15 days, my husband wrote a letter thanking the entire medical team and nurses for their care and professionalism in trying to save my daughter. We also sent them a box of chocolates and a box of wine. Think that when we left the hospital we ran into a lawyer that wanted us to sue the doctors and the hospital because Carmineta had died… But the doctors, great professionals that they are, did everything they could in their power, and we were incredibly grateful to them for that. The wisdom and intelligence of humans are limited. The other day I found a letter that a medical researcher had written us from the US thanking us for our collaboration in science–it’s been a few years since we allowed them to do a study on congenital heart defects. After all, it’s not very often that a family with heart defects has many children and even fewer where nearly half were born with the exact heart problem. The science of heart disease has improved with us.
As you all know, we had to bury two children within four months in the early days of our marriage, when I was only 26 years old. And now Carmineta. It was a very difficult blow.
But one can overcome and smile again. As I’ve said on many occasions, in large families the joys are multiplied and the suffering is shared. In any difficult moment, we always support each other.
It’s clear that after the death of someone you love there’s a time of mourning. And what does it consist of? It is an inner recollection and meditation, of prayer, of silence, of solitude to think about what is important and truly worthwhile—and this is definitely to give to others beginning always with your family. When one stops thinking about themselves and begins to think about others, only then you can encounter true joy. During difficult times, such as following the death of Carmineta, I still had to recharge my batteries with sports or going out with friends.
Furthermore, my children deserve to have a childhood that is happy and to see me smiling. Life goes on. Many times we ask “why” or “for what”? But we are limited in what we can understand about many things. The only thing that is true is that when we have a problem, we have an opportunity to grow and to resolve it. You with your family, with your girlfriend, with your spouse can continue moving forward.
We were created for happiness in this life. And yes, you can have it. Do not let yourselves be carried away by sentimentality. Those around you want to see you smile. They know you have a thorn in your heart. But you can’t just quit and leave. Learn how to overcome. Of course, sometimes we need to lock ourselves in our room and shed a few tears. That’s not a problem, we are humans and we have hearts.
But yes, you can smile again and be happy.
This post was originally published on comoserfelizconunodostreshijos.com on June 4th, 2018.