Help me get to heaven

Mario4By Alexandra Salazar
“Do not say goodbye yet” my Mario told me a few days before dying. We both knew death was close and every minute God granted him was precious. It was difficult to leave behind wife, children, family friends…life. I just wanted him to know how much I loved him and how grateful I was for everything he taught me, for everything he gave me, for everything we lived together. “Help me get to heaven” I begged him many times.

All that was learned, received, lived, took on a greater, deeper, meaning. Mario’s life was at stake. It had been two years since Mario was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer. I recall vividly when he was asked to go to the hospital for a procedure to remove what the doctors thought was a stone in the bile duct. “I am afraid” he told me but I didn’t give it much credence as I thought it was going to be something simple and then everything would go back to normal. I think Mario sensed something but I had no idea this was the beginning of a path that would transform our lives.

Mario1Suddenly we were living a reality that we thought far-off. We felt in our hearts the urgency to ask many people for their prayers. We were conscious that we needed God’s strength to walk this path.
It was as if God leaned over us to sustain us in an embrace. The grace was there and very strongly. We always felt profoundly loved and we new everything had a meaning, not all was clear at that moment but we clung to the cross.

The cross!  The cross! The cross that purifies and saves! Mario embraced his cross with courage, generosity and love. The path was not easy, there were many days of uncertainty, visits to the doctors and stays at the hospital, different procedures, treatments and tests… but Mario was strong and he never lost hope. This hope was the fountain that allowed him to radiate joy in the midst of pain. I remember I was moved by his sense of humor when the doctor asked him how he was feeling after his first session of radiation: “I am radiant!” he said.

It was two years in which Mario lived mortification, suffering patiently, he never complained. Meekly he adhered his pain to the mystery of the cross and he let himself be transformed by it. “ If you ever are fortunate to receive a thousand crosses, praise those blessed evils that fell on your lot, as they bring close the One who lived among men, the One who died for us to take us to heaven” he would sing many times in his life.

Mario2We all were asking for a miracle, we asked insistently for his healing and we did it ‘til the end. But the Lord was working with Mario at a deeper level. “I understand now” Mario told me one day, “the miracle is that God has saved me!” Mario had united himself to God embracing his cross and that union with God had been for him the true process of his healing!

During the last days of his life, I opened widely the doors of my house. Our community of friends filled his room with songs and prayers! This is the community in which Mario and I encountered the Lord and in which our faith became our life! Mario was accompanied, surrounded with friends, envelopped with love. “To have a community of friends is to have a little piece of heaven on earth” he told us one day. Mario and I felt that we were in heaven!

Mario3In the midst of all those days in which many people came to pray for Mario, the Lord preserved with a delicate touch a special moment for Mario and I. It was the morning of December 15th. Mario waited anxiously for me to open my eyes. He was breathing with difficulty, I thought he needed his medicine… I gave him a kiss and remained at his side. The Holy Spirit prompted me to read the Bible, immersed in the presence of God, I opened to chapter 11 of John. Again the Lord reminded us with tenderness his words of love. It was the passage that had accompanied Mario throughout his illness: “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (…) “I am the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” I finished reading gave him a hug and he died. At that very moment, the presence of God was so powerful that I touched eternity!

Mario did not suffer in vain, his pain was very fruitful, it has been a fountain of countless blessings for me, my children and many others! There is no Christianism without the cross!” he would repeat many times. “Everything with joy!” he taught me; profound joy that floods my torn heart!
I asked Mario many times to leave something written for his children but he left them something even better. He wrote with his life! Strong and clear! That God exists, that His love is real, that it saves and that it is stronger than death!
I love you Mario!

 

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