An Experience

Reality sometimes is more unusual than imagination. Gian Franco and Ceci, from Lima have 8 children. They are a family in mission in the southern part of Peru. Their eldest daughter, Esther, 18 years old, died a few days before Christmas six weeks ago. She had no medical condition, it all happened suddenly. The way the family lived this event is impressive. This is what the father wrote…

"About 5 weeks ago, I started preparing a catechesis on the four last things - death, judgment, heaven, and hell. I used to dialogue at the dinner table, with my kids about this. Esther found it funny that our risen bodies would acquire agility and beauty. She was always like that, seeing the humorous side of things. She was attending university, her major was psychology. In her free time, she used to visit some of the brothers or sisters of her (neo-catechumenal) community who were in crisis.

On Friday, December 17th, Ester sat for her last two exams of the semester. In the evening she was relaxing on the couch, when suddenly she started to writhe and stretch, having ugly spasms. She lost consciousness and started to vomit. We rushed her to the hospital. The doctor was honest from the start and told us it was something very serious.

This is where our internal battle began. The evil one worked hard to make us doubt the love of God. How is this possible? She is just eighteen! Where is God in all this? What is the meaning of this? I do not understand how one can survive these events without faith, without the prayer of the Church, without catechists, without a community.

The priest came and did the anointing of the sick. I opened a gospel at random and I got the healing of the man with a withered hand on the Sabbath. We had mixed feelings. On one hand, we wanted to believe she would recover, but the message was clear - the time had come.

Long hours followed. We prayed. We wept. We put our trust in Him. After a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, I felt that I should say to Esther loudly the words of the mother of the Maccabean martyrs: "I do not know whence you came or how you were formed in the womb of your mother; I did not give you life. He, who gave it to you, now is calling you - go back to God my daughter, do not be afraid!" The nurses were perplexed at our confident attitude.

All our children came now to hospital and one by one said goodbye to Esther. We offered the sufferings for the evangelization in the two towns where we evangelize. Esther never regained consciousness. At 9pm her heart stopped. We were all around her. We proclaimed the Gospel of the resurrection and sang psalms. We knew it. Jesus was there, walking on the waters, telling us, "It is I, courage! Do not be afraid - I am not a ghost".

When a couple of days later, the coffin was lowered in the ground, we sang the Creed. In the end we danced singing: "How many good things has the Lord given us!"

For some suffering is a boulder that crushes them, for others it is the rock on which they build their faith.

(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.