Monday, May 2, 2011
A sad goodbye to Gema
Gema Rodriguez, a lovely, bright eleven-year-old girl, died on Sunday from toxic shock syndrome that was most probably a complication of lupus.
Dr. Dale Heisinger met Gema during our 2010 general medical mission in San Juan Opico and loved her bravery under great physical pain, her flashing smile, and her sweet nature. Dale sent Gema some school supplies, which she treasured, and, through Dale, I connected with Gema and her family - her mother, Sonia, sisters Julia and Kelly, and brother Jarrison.
Dale became Gema's honorary godfather, and he, his wife Jane, and Kris Keough Forte joined forces to assist single-mother Sonia and the family with much needed living resources. The friendship with Dr. Dale and Jane and with Sister Kris was a great joy to Gema during a time when she confronted health crisis after health crisis.
In the last two weeks of her life, Gema faced two crises of vomiting and diarrhea; she was treated for the first at Hospital Benjamin Bloom, the children's hospital in San Salvador, and released feeling pretty good. She went back home, took her exams for entry to the 6th grade, and had received grades of 8 (a very good grade here) on the ones she'd done so far. She fell ill again after taking her last exam, and Sonia again took her to Hospital Bloom, but the doctors were unable to stabilize her. In her last hours, she told her mother "ya me voy," - I'm leaving - and told her not to cry.
But we are crying, all of us who knew and loved this beautiful girl. She is free from pain now, she lives with God now - but she's no longer with us, and so we cry.