Paloma Michelle

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Reality sinks as I sit in the land office going through applications of families who are all worthy of a Hero Holiday house and I begin to understand that not all families will be getting good news from us. We are only so many hands and we cannot build for all of them this year. As we sat in the office looking through applications a 17-year-old girl walks in with her 8-month-old boy. She starts filling out an application for a house and chatting with Santiago (our translator) and the landlady. Her name is Katheryne and she’s always smiling; despite the fact that two weeks ago her stepfather drowned trying to save his son, and despite the fact that she is living in poverty and struggles to pay for food and diapers because her 19-year-old husband Jesus was recently laid off from work. Half way through the application she says something and everyone laughs – she asks, “How many children do I say I have? One and a half?” That’s when we learned she’s six month pregnant with her second child.

That night this family was all I could think about. I wanted them to get a house from Hero Holiday so badly. The landlady has donated land to them but they are currently living with Katheryne’s mother and older brother in a small concrete house using a trailer as their kitchen.

The next morning my heart sank when I found out she had lost her baby. She went into labor at only 6 months and the baby didn’t make it. Her baby girl, Paloma Michelle, was too beautiful, too perfect for this world and was taken back before she even spent a day on earth.

When we got to the church for the funeral we were there before Katheryne and Jesus, and before the casket had been delivered. We walked in and laid flowers on the floor, and then took our seats taking up the whole fourth row in the church. I then watched as people took our flowers and placed them in 2 liter pop bottles for vases. I watched people slowly fill the front of the church, and then I watch a man carry in a tiny white casket and place it on a table surrounded by flowers. I didn’t understand much during the service as it was all in Spanish but I understood enough. I understood that the people in the room felt a deep loss; I understood the pain felt when tears swelled in Katheryne’s eyes and she looked up to the ceiling and I understood that when her baby boy began babbling and crawling around the church floor it was a reminder of the beauty of life.

The next day we told Katheryne and Jesus that they would be getting a house built for them in March, and that “it has nothing to do with the fact that you lost your baby, we knew when we first met you that you deserved a house.” They smiled from ear to ear, and I can’t even imagine all the thoughts that were running through their heads. A house won’t take away the hurt from the incredible loss they’ve experienced, but it will bring hope for the future. This is what LiveDifferent is all about; it’s about “Shining in the dark places, and lending the world your light.”

Written by LiveDifferent Academy student – Brittany Apolzer-Danis

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: February 12th, 2012