February 12, 2004 is a day forever engraved in my memory. My family and I were living in Chicago, IL. It was our very first winter in the city and we were trying to adapt to the new experiences that come with such frigid weather. That day about 4 inches of snow had fallen and after a few hours in the apartment, when the snowfall ceased, we decided to go out and enjoy the day. After we prepared our kids and ourselves with proper winter clothing, we made our way to a sledding hill in the suburbs.
On our way to the park we made a quick stop to grab some food to eat on the road. Our daughter, Carla, ate just a little – That’s unusual, I thought. She is usually a very good eater. I brushed it off, there’s a first time for everything.
We arrived at the park and after sledding for a bit, we decided to go to the house of a friend who lived very close to the park to rest and warm up.
Once we arrived, Carla began to feel very sick and began to feel sluggish. After 40 minutes, she started throwing up and her temperature began to drop. After vomiting two or three times, we decided to take her to the hospital.
On the way to the hospital, Carla stopped breathing. We caught a patrol that was passing by and frantically asked for help. The officer called 911 and gave CPR to Carla while the ambulance was en route. When the ambulance arrived, they took Carla and my wife, Liliana, to the hospital while I followed them in my car.
Carla was received in the ER and we waited and waited for any notice about her condition. One of the nurses called us to the ER to take a look at Carla. She was connected to so many machines. The room was full of doctors observing her and the doctor in charge tried to explain her condition to us. While I was looking at her, I could see that she was already gone. I asked the doctor and she confirmed.
I turned to Liliana and my son, Maat, hugged them and told them “Carlita has gone with the Lord, let’s pray to thank God for her life”. That was the deepest moment of our marriage! We bonded together and prayed from the bottom of our hearts to thank God for her life, while we were still trying to understand why this was happening to us.
My daughter’s death happened in the space of 6 hours, from three o’clock, when she begin to feel weak to nine o’clock when she passed. From being a healthy girl to being in the presence of God.
At about 10 pm, we went to our friend’s house and directly to the bedroom. We were trying to sleep but our time in bed turned into a deep painful crying.
At three o’clock in the morning the police came looking for me. I was the first suspect in my daughter’s death. They called me out and Liliana and Maat were scared when they saw me entering the patrol car. The detective began to ask questions, trying to understand how everything happened. The first question was: what do you do for a living? My answer was: “I’m a Pastor” Then the detective started to ask me “strange” questions like: If you are a Pastor, then tell me… What do you said to somebody that needs hope? I answered “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unreachable things you do not know” Jeremiah 33:3; then he asked me: What would you say to someone looking for peace? I answered: “And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:7. He asked two or three more questions. After the last question he told me “You can go now… but when you go into your house read Romans 8:28. God sent a minister disguised as a detective in the middle of the night to restore our strength in his hope.
I ran into the house and asked Liliana for a Bible. She was surprised at my request but she found one and gave it to me. We read together Romans 8:28
And we know that all things work for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
In this very moment God began to strengthen our hearts. A heavy burden fell from our minds and we were filled with his peace and the hope of eternal life.
Everything happened on a Friday. The next Monday we went to the cemetery to bury our daughter. We asked the detective to share a word at the service and he talked about the hope that we have in Jesus for eternity.
After Carla began her eternal life, Liliana and I learned to come to Jesus in prayer as spouses to find peace, strength and hope in times of struggle. The process of healing the loss has been long, but the Lord has been with us, loving us and preparing us to serve him. God has held us together and we understand that it was necessary to put our eyes on Jesus to go through this or any other difficult experience in our marriage, and to learn that by praying together we can overcome any tough situation. Now we share the same hope with couples that are passing through hard times to help them to stay strong in their marriages.
“And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:7
30 Day Devotional
This resource can help you and your family encounter Scripture together and make deeper connections with God and each other. This has been designed to be used during the month of July, but you can use it at any time. We suggest you begin Day 1 on a Sunday because some activities are designed around the weekend and Sunday worship. God bless you!