On May 15, 2021, vigil of the feast of the Ascension of the Lord, in the program "I love your Word", in which the Gospel of Sunday was commented (Mk 16, 15-20), from minute 15 approximately begins an interview with Lucia Benucci, in which she gives her testimony about her daughter Chiara. Of course, it doesn't explain everything it could say; an interview has its limits; Furthermore, that day he was not in optimal physical condition since the day before they had given him the anticovid vaccine and he had a fever. However, she wishes to share this memory with all of Chiara's family as well.
. […] Me preguntaba lo difícil que puede ser el camino de la vida cuando llega a la famosa selva oscura» de la que habla Dante. […] y decidí, con Paolo, invitar como huésped a una querida amiga, Lucia, del grupo “Caminamos juntos”.
Lucía es la madre de Chiara. Chiara es una hija que en un momento determinado de su vida siente con fuerza en su interior la llamada de este mismo evangelio de hoy, una llamada vocacional, y decide hacer una opción por la misión, como los apóstoles: «id por todo el mundo y proclamad el evangelio, la buena nueva».
Chiara chooses the consecrated life, and, at a given moment, fully experiences the beauty of choosing her own path. He even moved to Spain, away from his mother.
So we have a mother and a daughter who at one point walk the road together; later these two paths become parallel, they are no longer the same, the mother on the one hand and the daughter on the other. However, at a certain point, this path foresees that the two paths converge again, and then they begin to be a path traveled in company in a way that no one would have expected.
Lucia, tell us what happened.
. Sucedió que Chiara cayó enferma en octubre de 2014. Ya llevaba un año preparándose para ir a la misión, debía partir en enero de 2015 a Indonesia donde la congregación estaba creando una nueva estructura, una escuela, porque ese es el carisma. Ya estaba estudiando el idioma, como hacen todos los misioneros para prepararse; no es que puedan salir sin preparación. Pero alguien o algo decidió hacer cambiar de rumbo a Chiara. Al principio, Chiara experimentó todas las fases por las que pasan las personas a las que se les diagnostica un cáncer, es decir, la rabia, el miedo, la incertidumbre del mañana, el «¿por qué a mí?”.
En diciembre de 2014 en el hospital Vall d’Hebron, en Barcelona, el diagnóstico fue terrible: carcinoma inflamatorio ya infiltrado en los huesos y los pulmones. Es una enfermedad bastante rara, es un cáncer de mama bastante raro que afecta a chicas jóvenes de 20 a 30 años. Para este tipo de cáncer no hay curación, por lo que la palabra «incurable» fue terrible de digerir; y que te digan que para tu enfermedad no hay curación, sólo podemos intentar cronificar la enfermedad, y con esto no queremos decir curar, sino intentar seguir adelante hasta donde se pueda y que la vida sea lo más digna posible.
The early days were very hard, terrible, because to combat, or rather slow down a bit, such an aggressive tumor, the treatment had to be too.
In this first phase, Chiara felt bad. She did not feel comfortable in this condition, which was too narrow, because it suffocated her, blocked her, that is, it did not allow her to teach, it did not allow her the active life of the community. And in this first phase, but only in this first phase, I saw Chiara cry.
And then what I call the first miracle happened. Chiara's illness lasted four years. It is also quite a long time for the type of pathology, because the prediction is usually two years. During these four years, Chiara was in the hospital every week; in four years not a single week went by without visiting the hospital, either for treatment or for a check-up. And in those visits, in those long waits in the waiting room of the Vall d'Hebron Hospital, Oncology Service, he came into contact with a world that, until then, was unknown to him. He also came into contact with a quite painful world because he met many women, and knew their fears, sometimes their loneliness, their discomfort, their suffering, even physical suffering. And this sparked in Chiara the desire for closer contact with these people. It occurred to him to create a group and use social networks, a bit like all young people do; Chiara was 30 years old, so - for me it is difficult, but for her it was not - she created a closed Facebook group that only women who had been diagnosed with this type of cancer could access.
In this group, women could feel free to express their feelings, as I have said, often a lot of fear, a lot of suffering, sometimes loneliness, because some of them are also abandoned by their partner. Sometimes the couple cannot bear such a strong pain, they are afraid.
Chiara told me that something almost common to all of them came out of these meetings, that in addition to the burden of the disease, all these people, these women, had another great burden to bear, and it was the pain of the family, the pain of the children, the pain of parents: how to talk to a child and tell him what your story is going to be, or tell your parents, look, you are going to survive me. And that, in addition to the disease, is the greatest burden for all of them.
This group, which currently exists and is followed by nine hundred women, from twelve countries of the world, was the germ of the CMM Association, inspired and created by Chiara. In these meetings they had realized that there are many associations that are in charge of raising funds for research, many, even specifically for breast cancer, but none at a European level, not only Spanish, that deals with breast cancer metastatic.
Why? Because it is a minority; because of every 100 women who suffer from breast cancer, only in 20 the cancer affects other organs. Whereas, if breast cancer is cured, thanks to God and thanks to research, metastatic breast cancer is not cured. Therefore, research is not that important, it is extremely important.
The Association is one of the most important in Spain. It has funded two large research projects and has won two research grants on metastatic breast cancer, and they are preparing the third.
I call it the first miracle for Chiara, and perhaps also for me, because from that waiting room Chiara's new mission began. And she began to walk in the life and with the lives of these women, of whom she knew fear, anger, difficulties, suffering, sometimes loneliness; he knew them very well because they were his too.
Me gustaría compartir con vosotros una bonita frase, un lema, que Chiara y la Asociación utilizaron en una recaudación de fondos en la que dice «ya que me ha tocado a mí, al menos que sea para que no te toque a ti».
. Estas palabras son una frase importante de Chiara: «que no les toque a otros». En este caso, debemos conseguir hacer nuestra esta frase sin esperar a que sea demasiado tarde. En todas las experiencias, debemos asegurarnos de luchar, de poner todo nuestro empeño en el camino, precisamente para que nuestras experiencias dolorosas se puedan ahorrar a otras personas.
Now, however, I ask you a question: The path of those who are on the cross - I imagine that we are all still there - is a very painful path, it is the end, etc. But you are part of the great mothers, who, like the Great Mother, Mary, experienced being at the foot of the cross, you have lived being at the foot of the cross. What does this path mean to you today, after what happened to Chiara?
. I just wanted to say one thing: experiencing standing at the foot of the cross is one of the strongest experiences you can have. But not as much as a mother; I am thinking of accompanying, of being at the foot of the cross of a person who suffers, because you experience all impotence, absolute; it does not lead anywhere to scream, to get angry; the only thing you can do is trust. As for the road, of course you have to walk; Why not, why not do it? And I have experienced that life does not stop, that life goes on, even if something terrible happened to me. So I learn from life, if life goes on why am I going to stop? And I really don't want to do it; I know that, unfortunately, there is not always the possibility of a plan B, and sometimes you have to stick with plan A, even if you don't like it, even if it's bitter, even if it's not the one you dreamed of. I do not think that I am on a special path - or at least I am not aware of it - I simply walk. I have learned to walk like you walk on mountain trails, one step after the other, one foot in front of the other, without running, without forcing, sometimes with shortness of breath. This is a great work of mine because I have a certainty, a conscience: that whoever survives someone has an enormous duty, they have the duty not to waste a moment, a second of their life, simply out of respect for those who had to give that life, and, for those who had to give it up too soon, even more so.
Mi motor tiene un combustible especial, y son las últimas palabras, precisamente las últimas palabras, que Chiara nos dio, nos regaló. Con un hilo de voz nos dijo: «¿estáis preparados?», «yo estoy preparada, vosotros ¿estáis preparados?».
And with regard to this, I wanted to add a little thing that I was thinking about just today: Chiara was so prepared, she was so ready, that she was at peace.
And this peace allowed him, I am not saying in the four years of his illness, but in the last moments - I am talking about the last week - it even allowed him to play with his illness.
I want to tell you these two little episodes, they are two little phrases, because it is like Chiara's legacy -when I think of this I smile. When Chiara smiled at this situation, it was not a smile of resignation, but of play.
El primero, una semana antes de que se parara, estuvimos en urgencias de oncología, le tuvieron que hacer un drenaje. El médico entró, con la ficha, para hacer la ficha de ingreso, y al principio preguntó «Chiara, ¿cómo estás?». Ella con cara de pilla, pero la cara de pilla de los niños, del juego, le dijo: «Oh, sí, bien, con un cáncer de mama, con metástasis en el cerebro, pulmones, hígado, huesos, pero sí, todo va bien».
Y luego el último, que es realmente maravilloso en mi opinión. Chiara quería hablar a solas con su padre en las últimas horas. No sé lo que se dijeron, pero cuando su padre salió de la habitación me dijo: «¿Sabes qué me ha dicho Chiara?: Papá, si allí no hay pizza, regreso».
I think about these things, which are painful - I realize, I'm not stupid - but I smile, because she smiled when… she played; he was so at peace that he allowed himself to play with his illness.
. Yes, it is his ability to give you lightness in the most dramatic moment.
He leído tu testimonio en el libro que se ha escrito en honor a Chiara, todos los testimonios de sus amigas, de los que la conocieron y precisamente está también el de su madre, o sea, el tuyo, y en este hermoso escrito que has hecho, hay una frase que me impactó increíblemente. La frase es esta: «Chiara se permitió volver a ser hija, dándome la posibilidad de volver a ser madre». ¿A qué te refieres exactamente?, y, sobre todo, si fue un regalo tener la posibilidad, en el camino que parecía sólo de ida, también de volver, de volver a revivir pequeños gestos maternales de los que quizás tenías nostalgia, o quizás no se habían vivido como querías, algo que nos puede pasar a las madres cuando damos las cosas demasiado por descontadas.
Tell me, go ahead.
. This was a huge gift, a great gift that I received from Chiara. I had the privilege of accompanying her the last two months of her life and she accompanied me. She allowed herself to be a daughter again simply because it was what her body allowed her at that moment. She could no longer be a teacher, she could not be a nun, a missionary, but she could be a daughter, she could, and she gave herself totally, she trusted completely and gave me the possibility of being a mother again, even in the little things of daily life, and This created between us an enormous and deep spiritual understanding. But, Roberta, I have to stop here.
. I understand it and I appreciate it. There is a dignity and a respect. Indeed, I say that you are too good, even if you do not like to hear it, by wanting to share this; Let me say it, pain is always jealous of its own pain.
One last thing I want to say to you before saying goodbye: Jesus walks in life, and Jesus ascends to heaven: this ascension means going to the infinite which is omnipresent; therefore, in the history of all of us, through our dying and our rebirth. And now I ask myself: what is Chiara today?
What is Chiara? Chiara today is a presence for me, she has no form, she is just a presence, a daily presence, and I have decided to continue walking. And if I am like that, honestly, I don't even know how it is possible, I am just like that. For me, being like this, living like this, walking like this, is normal, as normal as breathing. And breathing is something natural, something that is done without further ado; every time you step in to force or stop it, you end up suffocating. So you have to let it go, you have to let it go and let it flow naturally. And I have decided to let my daily life flow so naturally because I have decided to trust my life, I have decided to trust my breath and, above all, to trust the One who has entrusted me with this life and this breath.
I would like, if you allow me, to finish with Chiara's words, to introduce her a little to those who do not know her, a brief thing, because in these few lines she explains her idea of a miracle.
. Eso es lo que quería decirte. Antes has utilizado la palabra milagro. Dijiste que «esto era el verdadero milagro». Pero hablamos de los milagros, y demasiado a menudo quizás no tenemos ni idea de lo que es un milagro, creemos que son magia. En cambio, Chiara nos da realmente una definición de milagro que puede servir realmente a cada uno de nosotros.
. Es un pequeño extracto, son unas líneas de una entrevista que Chiara concedió a una periodista española; os las leo: «Mucha gente quiere que me ponga bien, reza por un milagro, pero creo que el mayor milagro se produce cuando una persona consigue encontrar algo bueno en una situación que, en principio, de bueno no tiene nada. Creo que en mi caso el milagro ya se ha producido, porque, aunque el avance de la enfermedad me obligue a hacer algunos sacrificios, me doy cuenta de que ha llenado mi vida de experiencias, de vidas, de personas, que de otro modo nunca habrían estado ahí. Sobre todo, me ha hecho comprender que lo más importante de nuestro paso no es el tiempo que nos queda sino cómo lo utilizamos».
. I think it's something we really should have on our nightstand, this is really a Chiara quote. And it is a message that comes from beyond the veil and that lives on tonight for all of us.
Lucia, I really don't know how to thank you. Thank you for your dignity, for the tenderness and delicacy with which you have carried this pain of yours, without stopping in the pain, but trying to dig deep to see some light. I feel that Chiara enlightens you, that Chiara is now by your side as perhaps she was before. Meanwhile, I look at Facebook and I see that there are many people who send you greetings, who write beautiful phrases, of immense love and complicity. And I tell these people that Lucia is not social, so she will not be found on facebook.
But I have already told Lucia that whatever particular message there is, I myself will act as an intermediary to get it to her. So, if anyone is interested in this association for more information, or to speak with Lucia, she has also given us her availability to share nameless sorrows such as those of mothers who lose their children, right, Lucia?
. Yes, of course. In fact, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for allowing me to talk about this.
. The honor is ours, Lucia.
. We really wanted to have you with us, Lucia.