Maria Gorretti’s Journey: A Story of Faith


Today marks the 14th death anniversary of Maria Gorretti de los Reyes Mariano. On July 3, 2000 at 9:20 p.m., my mom, Maria Goretti de los Reyes –Mariano, 33 years old, died at Western Visayas State University Hospital after having a cardio-pulmonary arrest. Her death was a beginning of an unforgettable experience for us – her immediate family, relatives and friends. The incident was also noted to be an example of how faith worked on my mom as she spent her life on Earth. It was the end of her human life and the beginning of an eternal life.

Want to hear our story of faith? Here it goes…. (CREDITS TO MY DAD)

It all started sometime during the last week of December 1999. At that time, Maria Gorretti, fondly called Girling by others, started to feel unusual back pains. Sensing that there might be something wrong with her body, Girling continued to observe the pains. When her husband, Sonny, was required to report to an advanced military schooling by the first week of January 2000, Girling was left in Ilo-ilo City to take care of their two daughters – Isabela Maria and Katrina Marie. By the second week of January 2000, she submitted herself to a pulmonary doctor for consultation and evaluation.
The pulmonary doctor diagnosed her to be suffering from pneumonia/tuberculosis and she immediately started her medications. From mid-January 2000 until the end of March 2000, Girling took her medication seriously. Her husband and the other members of the family gave the necessary support.

However, on April 7, 2000, Girling, still feeling the unusual pain in her back, presented herself back to her pulmonary doctor. The doctor sensed that there might be something else bothering her and recommended that she be hospitalized for a thorough medical examination. Thus, she was brought to the hospital and confined from that same date until April 11, 2000 for the required medical check-ups.
By April 3, 2000, the result of the medical examination turned out as a shock to Girling’s family. There were tumours found in her left and right lungs and the biopsy conducted revealed that it was malignant thereby confirming that she has a lung cancer. After going through a very difficult moment asking permission from his commander, her husband was able to return back to Ilo-ilo City by the first hour of April 4, 2000. In that same morning, Girling and Sonny, accompanied by Girling’s brother and sister, visited an oncologist. Girling’s case was studied thoroughly and the oncologist properly briefed all the possibilities. They found out that the cancer ailment was traced to have come from a cancer germ cell that existed in Girling’s body probably since 1989 when she had an ovarian cyst operation. The best ailment medical cure that Girling can receive to fight her cancer ailment is chemotherapy. Thus, by 11:00 a.m., of that same date, Girling expressed her keen desire to have an immediate action to her ailment. She insisted that the therapy be applied the same afternoon. However, the doctor said that the medicine required needs time to be prepared. Girling again insisted that it must be done the soonest possible time, the next day. Hence, by the next morning, the first chemotherapy of Maria Goretti de los Reyes-Mariano was applied to her. With that action, everybody can see from her eyes her serious desire to to get well and live longer.

During the process of Girling’s chemotherapy, there were complications that developed. She often times accumulate fluids in her left and right lungs which should be taken from time to time. Her lungs collapsed and did not expand well; her hyperthyroid continued to develop; her heart beat started to beat faster; and she developed asthma. For the whole duration of her medication to fight cancer, from April 2000 until her time of death, Girling was hospitalized six times with various duration. The longest of which was when she was hospitalized was from June 5, 2000 to June 20, 2000. When there is no need to be hospitalized, Girling spend most of her remaining time at home. Thus, she spent her last month on Earth, either in the hospital or at home, under the support of a medical oxygen.

Girling’s medication was observed to gone smoothly. The doctors and her family were having high hopes from her recovery from the cancer ailment. Not only her family members who extended all the necessary support that she needs, but also, other relatives, friends and the Philippine Army. However, during her last month on Earth, the complications brought about pain discomforted her. When Girling was discharged from the hospital last June 20, 2000, she was at the peak of her strength since she had the therapy. Under oxygen therapy, she moved around the house on a wheel chair. Every afternoon, she spends time at the porch of the house and wait for her friends to come by and talk to her.
However, after a week, by the last week of June 2000, Girling showed vital signs of deteriorating health conditions. She was convinced to be brought to the hospital but refused to do so. Instead, Sonny asked her pulmonary doctor to visit her on June 30, 2000. She was placed under observation for possible development of more fluids in her lungs. Unfortunately, on July 1, 2000, at 5:30 p.m., Girling had a cardio-pulmonary arrest while lying on her bed with her sister by her side. Sonny together with Girling’s sister and neighbor rushed her to Western Visayas State University Hospital, Ilo-ilo City.

Girling’s lifeless body reached the hospital at 6 p.m. All medical efforts were exerted to put her to life. By God’s will, all her vital signs were restored after forty-five minutes. However, she was already in a state of comatose. The doctor warned that another arrest could be fatal to her. As soon as her condition stabilized, she was brought to a private room and all the necessary life support system was provided just to extend her life. Word was immediately passed on the concerned family members. Her mother, brother and sister who are in the United States prepared for their immediate return to the Philippines.

However, on July 3, 2000 at 8:30 p.m., Girling had another arrest. All efforts were made to restore her. However, after several attempts, the efforts became futile and by 9:20 p.m. of that same date, Girling was declared dead. It was the end of her 33 years, 3 months and 26 days living on earth as God’s greatest creation. She is a unique creature.

Preparation for her wake was immediately planned. Her coffin was placed at her residence in L.J. Ledesma Subdivision, Jaro, Ilo-ilo City. The date of the burial was extended because the arrival of some of her family members from the United States was delayed. On July 16, 2000 at 10 a.m., the burial rite for her was held at Calinog Parish Church, Calinog, Ilo-ilo, the same place where she met Sonny sometime in September 1988. After the rites, she was finally placed to rest at Calinog Cemetery, Calinog, Ilo-ilo.

For her remaining days on Earth, Girling spent most of her time praying to God. She kept on thanking the Lord for the wonderful life she had. Since the cancer could have developed anytime since 1989, she specifically thanked the Lord for the 11 years extension that she had wherein she was given the opportunity to marry Sonny and to be a mother of her two lovely daughters. She also expressed her acceptance on whatever is the will of God for her as part of His great plan for every human being. In all of her prayers to the Lord and many Saints, she still hoped that she would be given another chance. However, the great plan of the creator cannot be changed.

Girling called on many saints for intercession, especially St. Maria Goretti. Girling’s baptismal name was derived from St. Maria Goretti as prescribed by her grandmother who has just visited the Holy Land when Girling was born on March 7, 1967. The faith of Girling was the first and last wish Girling’s grandmother asked from St. Maria Gorretti and the family believed that a favour was indeed granted.
The family hoped for a miracle. But, the miracle that everybody have in mind is the miracle that Jesus made when Lazarus rose from the dead. In reality, there is another form of miracle that can happen, a spiritual miracle that Girling just had. She did not recover from her cancer ailment and lived a longer life. But, instead, she was given an eternal life – an eternal life she prepared for with her last three months on Earth. Her short time of suffering was filled with faith and determination to obey God’s will. In other words, she died peacefully in the name of God leaving behind her loved one’s full of the same hope she had for leaving – an opportunity to join the Creator which is not given to everybody.

Last April 2000, Girling feared so much of dying. However, as days went by, she developed a certain covenant with God on what is stored for her future – a covenant that she kept for herself and the Lord.The strength that Girling developed to face her fate became more evident during her last days on Earth. She already came to a point of accepting death as a part of living. There was no more fear of dying in her eyes as she became closer and closer to God. The Lord God gave her a graceful and peaceful exit from mortal life.

Also, the strength that Girling possessed in facing her greatest challenge for life is the same strength that she passed on to her family. Her family used that strength as an inspiration to continue life and try their best to make all of her dreams come true.
Now that the mortal life of Girling is gone, her memories shall remain in the hearts of those who loved her. She is now enjoying an eternal life which will eventually be the direction followed by all God’s creation.

So, this is our story of faith – a story that can be shared to all believers on how God works to those who believe in Him.

Click this link to view my 13th death anniversary tribute to her and more of her photos.



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