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.
. […] I was wondering how difficult life's path can be when it reaches the famous dark jungle ”of which Dante speaks. […] And I decided, with Paolo, to invite as a guest a dear friend, Lucia, from the group “We walk together”.
Lucia is Chiara's mother. Chiara is a daughter who at a certain moment in her life feels strongly within her the call of this same Gospel of today, a vocational call, and decides to make an option for the mission, like the apostles: “go to the whole world and proclaim the gospel, the good news ”.
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.
. Chiara happened to fall ill in October 2014. She had already been preparing for a mission for a year, she had to leave in January 2015 for Indonesia where the congregation was creating a new structure, a school, because that is the charism. He was already studying the language, as all missionaries do to prepare; it's not that they can leave unprepared. But someone or something decided to make Chiara change course. In the beginning, Chiara experienced all the phases that people who are diagnosed with cancer go through, that is, the anger, the fear, the uncertainty of tomorrow, the "why me?"
In December 2014 at the Vall d'Hebron hospital in Barcelona, the diagnosis was terrible: inflammatory carcinoma already infiltrated in the bones and lungs. It is a very rare disease, it is a very rare breast cancer that affects young girls between 20 and 30 years old. For this type of cancer there is no cure, so the word "incurable" was terrible to digest; and that they tell you that for your disease there is no cure, we can only try to make the disease chronic, and by this we do not mean to cure, but to try to move forward as far as possible and that life is as dignified as possible.
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.
I would like to share with you a beautiful phrase, a motto, that Chiara and the Association used in a fundraiser in which she says "since it has touched me, unless it is so that it does not touch you."
. These words are an important phrase from Chiara: "let it not touch others." In this case, we must manage to make this phrase our own without waiting until it is too late. In all experiences, we must make sure to fight, to put all our efforts on the path, precisely so that our painful experiences can be spared other people.
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.
My engine has a special fuel, and they are the last words, precisely the last words, that Chiara gave us, gave us. With a small voice she told us: "Are you ready?", "I'm ready, are you ready?"
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.
The first, a week before he stopped, we were in the oncology emergency room, they had to do a drain. The doctor came in, with the file, to make the admission file, and at first he asked "Chiara, how are you?" She with a funny face, but the funny face of the children, of the game, said: “Oh, yes, well, with a breast cancer, with metastases in the brain, lungs, liver, bones, but yes, everything it is going well".
And then the last one, which is really wonderful in my opinion. Chiara wanted to speak to her father alone in the last few hours. I don't know what they said to each other, but when her father left the room he said: "Do you know what Chiara told me? Dad, if there's no pizza there, I'll be back."
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.
I have read your testimony in the book that has been written in honor of Chiara, all the testimonies of her friends, of those who knew her and precisely that of her mother, that is, yours, and in this beautiful writing that you have In fact, there is a phrase that impressed me incredibly. The phrase is this: "Chiara allowed herself to be a daughter again, giving me the possibility of being a mother again." What do you mean exactly? And, above all, if it was a gift to have the possibility, on the way that seemed only one way, also to return, to relive small maternal gestures that perhaps you were nostalgic about, or perhaps They had not been lived as you wanted, something that can happen to mothers when we take things too much for granted.
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.
. That's what I wanted to tell you. You have used the word miracle before. You said "this was the real miracle." But we talk about miracles, and too often perhaps we have no idea what a miracle is, we think they are magic. Instead, Chiara really gives us a definition of miracle that can really serve each of us.
. It is a small extract, they are a few lines from an interview that Chiara gave to a Spanish journalist; I read them to you: “Many people want me to get well, they pray for a miracle, but I believe that the greatest miracle occurs when a person manages to find something good in a situation that, in principle, has nothing good. I believe that in my case the miracle has already occurred, because, although the advance of the disease forces me to make some sacrifices, I realize that it has filled my life with experiences, with lives, with people, who otherwise would never have they would have been there. Above all, it has made me understand that the most important thing about our journey is not the time we have left but how we use it ”.
. 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.