The conference was a beautiful experience and I apologize we have not captured it in its entirety the way we should have. But right after the conference, my life took an unexpected turn. We will show all of the pictures and highlights of De Mujer a Mujer, but right now it is more important that I share someone else's story.
My boyfriend and I have a group of ridiculously talented friends. Friends we have worked together with on various projects for years now. Friends that are low-maintenance, understanding, but very supportive. All so busy doing different things, but all have one thing in common. Our friends have the biggest hearts in the world and they are all down to earth. They have done things for me and my career without asking for anything in return. My friend Junior in particular has such a good spirit. He is always laughing and joking around. There's no way you can be in a bad mood around this guy. He is also a family man. Definitely wins the best Tio award in my book.
His nephew, Angel, was diagnosed with cancer in June of this year. I had been watching his journey with chemotherapy and radiation. I was praying for my friend and his family. I had also been planning the conference and running around like a crazy person, but I started to feel this little boy tugging at my heart. As a mother myself, I couldn't imagine what his mother was going through. I was scrolling on IG one day and watched a video of Angel opening a box of gauze. This sweet little boy was so happy to open a box of GAUZE! It's one of the wonders I have of children. That they are amazed and so delighted in the smallest things that life has to offer. It's a little reminder of how precious life can be.
Adelante Mami sent Angel a couple of care packages to keep him happy during his treatment. I cried as we watched videos of him opening his little presents. He loved to paint, so we sent him two different sets. We were posting everywhere to get people to contribute to his Gofundme. We also felt like Karla, his mother, could use a little time to treat herself as well. We invited her to the conference and gave her complimentary tickets. Shortly after the conference, I had learned from Junior that Karla could not make it because they had learned Angel's cancer had spread. They were planning on doing an experimental treatment as a last attempt at slowing down his awful disease. I knew from that moment I needed to be there.
The day I went and saw Angel he was having some pain and wanted mommy. Karla had to step out to answer a phone call and the doctors were checking his vitals, which he did not like. He was crying and Junior was trying to console him. I got up and he let me hold him. Actually, he held ME. He clung on tight. He was warm and affectionate. You could just feel his love radiate through your body. I didn't know that I could experience that outside of my own children, but I did. Another day that I went to visit I held him for almost an hour and he wouldn't let me sit down lol. I couldn't believe that even when he wasn't feeling good he still wanted to play and was happy. I think being close to him almost gave me peace. God was inside of that little boy. His parents made absolutely no mistake naming him Angel. He truly was in every sense of the word.
I was there the day they told the family that they have done all the could for Angel and that he would be transferred to Ryan's House. It was such a difficult day. Such a hard day that, when I found out, I felt my knees buckle and I couldn't drive home. The entire day he was in a tremendous amount of pain. He kept crying "help me" and asked for medicine. JR came to visit and we were both painfully glued to a corner of the room trying to hold it together. He wanted to get in a toy car, but was in so much pain we couldn't even get him in there. When we finally did, he fell asleep in there, and didn't want to get out. I remember finally getting him in the bed and massaging his back to go to sleep. He was trembling even in his sleep. I still had so much hope, as did his entire family. I still felt like he would make it. As I was leaving for our family trip to Disneyland I had this fear that he would pass while I was gone. But they said up to 3 weeks so I told myself he would be ok and I would visit when I got home.
Friday night at Disneyland Ellie and I were waiting for Steven and Josiah to get off of a ride. Ellie asked, where is Angel? I told her he was at the hospital. Right after, I got a message that he was passing. It felt like someone knocked the wind out of me. I was holding it in while in front of the kids. I didn't want to ruin their experience. But it made me angry and confused. By the time we were leaving the park at midnight I found out that he had passed. I cried the entire way back to the room silently in the dark. I had to tell my 10-year-old son and we just sat in the bed crying until we went to sleep. For the rest of the trip I tried my hardest to keep my spirits up. While we were at the beach I watched Ellie and Josiah play and crash in the waves. I thanked God for giving me the gift of motherhood. I thanked God for their health and their happiness. I thanked God for the light that Angel brought into my life and his lesson on love. It was so funny that I could smell him around me. He smelled of sweet vanilla with his little hospital gown.
At his service last night, it broke my heart to see him. I didn't want to accept it. His slideshow couldn't have been more perfect. It was a true representation of the beautiful life he lived. He was happy, laughing, playing, and loving. Everyone that spoke did him justice. We cried, we smiled, we laughed, we hugged and held each other. With my eyes swollen and full of tears, I was still so thankful for his life and his family. For being so open with someone who was practically a stranger. For the opportunity to be a part of his journey. For the hand holding and hugs that I will never be able to forget.
I guess that this is the part that I love about my own life and Adelante Mami. You can work so hard at something. You can get so consumed by making a career for yourself, pursuing your passion, and chasing your dream. But sometimes God will redirect you. God will allow you to use your platform. He knows your heart and will strategically place you where you need to be at that very moment. You just have to listen. You have to be willing to do what is asked of you. I am so thankful for Angel and all that he taught me in such a short amount of time. We will miss you so much buddy! Descanse en paz.