My father exhaled one last time a year and a half ago. Even though he is no longer present in body and soul, love is the force that still connects us because love is infinite, transcends barriers and unites us forever.
John Allan Sheffield Marenco, or Johnny, as he was known, was an extraordinary person. He was tireless, creative, in love with life and full of lessons. One of these lessons, and the most important to me is what he often said : “Never say ’it can’t be done’ “. The truth is we create our own barriers. Everything can be achieved if you stay positive and fight for what you want.
After struggling, without fear, for more than 15 years with a heart condition and prostate cancer, one day he stumbled and fell to the ground, breaking his hip. It was one of those unexpected twists and turns of life. I felt anxious for the uncertain future and seeing my dad suffer really affected me. I felt tense, my heart would race quickly day and night, and family calls would produce an emptiness in my stomach.
Not surprisingly, none of the ailments prevented Johnny from continuing to fight or from doing what he enjoyed until the last moment.
During those anxious days I had a dream that my father died and I asked God how he was doing. I didn’t hear any words, but I was able to see a star brightly shining and illuminating the sky. That dream gave me strength to keep on going and I knew in my heart that everything would be fine. I knew Someone up there loves us and is taking care of not only of my father, but of all of us as well.
My dad battled to stay alive a few more weeks after my dream. In the last minutes of his life, I was blessed to be the person to hold his hand and tell him the final words of encouragement as he said goodbye to this world. I never thought I would have the strength to help him during his final hours, but I was granted courage and peace, for which I am very grateful.
During the first Christmas without him, I felt sad that he was not here to celebrate the holidays with us. My 5 year old daughter, Lucía said to me: “Mommy don’t be sad. I don’t have any nightmares because papa Johnny comes to sleep with me every night”. The beauty of these words and the ones that followed a few days later: “mommy, why don’t you buy me a telescope so I can see papa Johnny in heaven?” filled my heart with joy and courage and were the best Christmas presents.
All of us who have lost a loved one wish there were visiting hours in heaven. Our visiting hours are recalling all those moments, instances and occasions that we dream of and remember our loved ones. Johnny sowed many seeds of guidance and wisdom that are blooming here on earth today. We will meet again someday and until that day comes, our love, the most powerful force in the universe, is the thread that binds us between heaven and earth.