Pain and love run perpendicular. Somewhere along the way they inevitably meet. We see it in the Cross. I trust you’ll understand if I don’t feel like satire today. It happened last Thursday in Madrid. At the end of the school day. Just outside the Montealto school. One of many mothers, there to pick up her children, was maneuvering her car when she accidentally put her car in the wrong gear. The car lurched unexpectedly onto the sidewalk and ran over three girls, aged 5, 10, and 12. The youngest died within minutes. The other two are in serious but stable condition. This is the pain. Love, the outpouring of Christian love, is what happened right afterward.
The mother of the 5-year-old girl, who worked at the school, was among the first to come out after the accident. She ran to her daughter, lying on the ground, embraced her, and had just enough time to tell her to be calm and that she loved her, before she passed away in her arms. Instantly, the mother got up, walked over to the person who had been driving the car, broken with grief and guilt, and in a gesture of touching humanity, she embraced the woman who had just accidentally killed her daughter.
The school chaplain arrived in time to administer last rites to the infant while she was still alive. Dozens of parents and teachers began to pray spontaneously on the sidewalk at that very moment, while the emergency teams arrived, but nothing could be done to save the little girl.
A coincidence, perhaps a nod from Heaven: Mary was the girl’s name. Mary is the mother’s name. Mary is the name of the driver.
Montealto is a Catholic school that is part of a Spanish network called Fomento, created by a group of parents and teachers in the ’60s, under the premise of involving families in the educational mission. They have 35 schools all over Spain. I studied in one of them. Christian values there are not a complement, but the core of school life.
The same night of the accident, parents and students launched an initiative on Instagram: 24 hours of praying the Holy Rosary “for the soul of María, for her family, for the other two girls affected, for the driver, and for all the families affected.” The following day, the school called for a Day of Prayer, shared by all the Fomento schools in Spain. On Saturday, with the Montealto school full of bouquets of flowers and memories of little Maria, a large funeral was held at the school itself.
With tears in my eyes, I have just finished reading the letter that Alex and Maria, the parents of the deceased girl, sent via WhatsApp today. It is, perhaps, the great reconciliation with the world around us. The great testimony of Christian love. I transcribe here just a few excerpts:
“We are overwhelmed by so many shows of affection … We find ourselves incapable of reading so many loving messages because we would be crying all day and we can’t afford to as we have five other children to take care of…. Your prayers sustain us”.
“I ask that you pray for the other two families and for Maria, the mother who has suffered, in our opinion, the worst part of the accident and, once again we implore her to abandon herself in the Lord that she might realize that she is not to blame and that, even if we find it incomprehensible, Our God has allowed this to happen, to bring about a greater good.”
“At the funeral home we have heard testimonies of people who had been distanced from the Faith and that thanks to our little Mary have gone to pray the Rosary in church and have left feeling very comforted … Human love is finite but the LOVE of God is infinite … We must also thank the emergency services, police, and firefighters who attended us with such affection. It truly makes me very proud of my homeland, of our beloved Spain. Also, our Fomento schools, which have shown with acts the Christian values they promote…. We thank God for all our friends and our great family.”
“Look; Maria and I, in order to sleep, share Dumbo, our baby’s stuffed elephant, but with the certainty that Mariquilla is enjoying herself more than ever in Heaven because she loved life and I believe that she knew that the only place she could be better off was there, with her true Father and her true Mother. We are comforted by the knowledge that we have done everything in our power to make sure our Mariquilla was well cared for and cuddled. And we thank God for these five wonderful years that He has given us with her. We love you all.”
I am unable to add a single sentence that would even come close to matching the words of these parents. Would that I had a heart and faith as immense as theirs. Friends and readers, regain hope: there are angels on earth.
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