These entry was originally posted in Spanish in two parts.
We thank Alex and Marta, Cynthia’s relatives, for making this interview possible and providing an opportunity so that more people we can learn from the great message that Cynthia left us.
Paulina: How are you doing?
Marta: Thank God I am going through, although it is difficult for me. I am lucky to have my grandchildren and my other two children. I also have the work that (Cynthia) left us through the foundation.
Paulina: Could you tell me a little bit more about this work?
Marta: We work in a foundation in Ecuador named after my daughter. Through this foundation, we educate people and raise awareness about organ donation, as it is something uncommon in Ecuador. Currently, we are very excited that we are in the process of updating the laws of organ donation. It is a very beautiful work, and we are very pleased with the contributions that the University (MSPP) makes to this project. I’m excited about helping people, which is something that Cynthia did through all her life.
I have plans to write a book about my daughter’s life because every day that passes I realize that she was an angel, and there are so many things that we can learn from her. My daughter was an extraordinary person. I used to think that her passion and compassion towards others was something normal, but now I realize that she was really someone very special, with a big devotion towards helping others and making people happy. There are so many passages in her life that can really be of help to the young generations. For instance, my daughter’s friends were always older that her. I remember meeting one of her psychologist friends, with more experience than my daughter. I wondered how they could get along despite the age difference, to which she responded, “Cynthia is an angel and angels are ageless”. Cynthia had a strong passion for helping people from an early age. When she was very young while studying in a Franciscan high school, she formed a group of young people whose aim was to help other less fortunate. Later, when she was in college, she organized a group in the parish near our house that also helped people. They did extensive volunteer work to help the elderly, in the hospitals, and in several settings. I remember she told me that what people needed the most was company from others, and she gave them that company. In talking with these people, my daughter was aware of the loneliness they felt. She could see what people needed and she cared about them. I guess this is something she saw in the University (MSPP) as she realized the need in the community to have Spanish-speaking clinicians who can really understand the Spanish-speaking population in the United States.
Continuing the interview with Cynthia’s mother, Marta told me that when Cynthia was studying at MSPP, she never forgot her friends in Ecuador. Each year, Cynthia mailed different presents to her mom so that she could hand these out to her friends. Cynthia was always a person dedicated to her friends. In this way, we can see how it was important for Cynthia to stay in contact with her loved ones and those in need of help. For example, when Cynthia got to Boston, she participated in the “big brother, big sister program”; she also helped a little boy in a foreign country by sending him money and letters so that the boy could succeed in his studies.
Marta also talked about how she awaits the arrival of young MSPP students to Ecuador each summer, because this is a way in which she can see the look of her daughter in each of the students who go to Ecuador every summer as part of the MSPP Latino Mental Health Program. Cynthia’s mother told me different anecdotes that show Cynthia’s kind heart. Here is one of these stories: “One day a lot of ants went into Cynthia’s room, and she told her father – Daddy, there are a lot of ants in my room – to which her father replied, – well, of course, it is your fault because you are a very sweet person and these ants are going after you”.
Marta told me another story about some writings she found in Cynthia’s childhood and adolescence notebooks. One day, Marta found a letter that Cynthia wrote when she was 15 years old. This letter made Marta realize even more how special her daughter was and how important it was for her to make other people happy. Marta explained that while most 15 year old girls are thinking about their ¨quinceañera¨ party, clothing, and other preparations; Cynthia wrote a letter to Jesus asking for a smile to give to others, and indeed, Cynthia was a very smiley person who could make others smile with her own smile.
Cynthia passed away running the Boston Marathon raising funds for the leukemia society. During her last steps, a friend told her to stop running, to what Cynthia replied, “These people are counting on me”. Cynthia Lucero gave a huge part of herself to the service of others. Her work is still present through various social activities, including the foundation, where Cynthia’s family and many others are working constantly to help others live a better life. As the mental health community, it is important for us to keep involved in the labor of Cynthia’s family foundation. Right now, the foundation is seeking support from organizations and institutions to find testimonies of the organ donation culture, so that people in Ecuador can benefit from organ donation as well by providing education and testimonies about what organ donation is about. As a community, I believe it is vital to support this cause and follow Cynthia’s example of knowing that even if we don’t give much, providing what is in our hands can have an exponential response in other people’s lives.