Articles From the December 1994 Unification News


`Till Death Bring Us Together

by Camilo Ramirez-Laurel, MD

It is one year since my wife Noriko lost her five-year battle with breast cancer. The process of keeping faith-in offering Noriko and my love for Noriko-led me through a twisting and thorny path. The struggle has brought me closer to God. In writing this testimony, however, I want to pay tribute to my wife, and share a little of what I have experienced.

We began our family life while continuing to live in two different cities because we both had separate missions. Three months into our family life came the joyful news that Noriko was pregnant. Two weeks later we were shocked that Noriko had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

In the course of our five-year marriage and struggle against cancer, our faith in God, each other and ourselves would be challenged.

The inability to defeat this hideous illness was difficult for both of us. Noriko, however, was unyielding in her determination to live, but also uncompromising in her faith. My wife determined that to live, both of us had to have absolute faith. Also, in spite of how much Noriko hated the effects of chemotherapy, my wife did not voice any feelings of resentment or complaint against God.

I deeply questioned God in trying to accept that Noriko's destiny would be in His hands. Frustrated at the feeling of being powerless, and also careful not to allow anger or resentment to enter my mind, I pushed myself to do indemnity conditions. I remember two years ago going to the Washington, D.C. holy ground, Sunday after Sunday, in the bitter winter, before pledge. What began as a desperate prayer condition and an attempt to keep my heart pure, evolved into a personal and close relationship with God. I determined to maintain my faith pure and strong. It was very difficult to offer into God's trust my wife's destiny; however, I believed that not to freely accept life or death meant to jeopardize any possibility of God intervening on behalf of my wife. My responsibility was to pray for a miracle but to accept any outcome as the will of God.

Determined to live, Noriko persevered through many periods of disappointment. It was such a struggle to maintain faith and hope when the cancer would reappear after months or a year of vanishing in the scans and X rays. Noriko nevertheless kept fighting her own mind, and kept believing in God's love.

Finally Noriko and I were told the news that I had feared. Noriko's cancer had advanced too far, and the doctors had reached the end of their treatments. My wife had only a few more months to live, we were told. Noriko's reaction was typical of her spirit. Noriko somehow found the strength to continue to believe. Noriko kept fighting, but she also kept a pure and faithful heart towards God and True Parents. My wife passed into the spirit world a few days after the last doctor's visit.

To my surprise, after feeling that I had prepared well for Noriko's death, I suddenly and unexpectedly entered into a period of grieving.

My grief lasted for five months. It was both an experience in which I withdrew and alienated myself, and an experience in which I encountered very powerful and deep emotions.

Grieving, I came to understand, is not only a feeling of sadness but also another step in the realization that in a Blessing, the relationship is eternal. To accept this victory over the fear of death, is also to recognize the need to make an offering of all the feelings.

To lose a relationship as close as a spouse's is naturally painful and difficult. Yet, although in pain, one must not lose sight of the course of faith and the relationship with God.

Initially, as I grieved and longed for my wife, all that I felt was the feeling of emptiness and being alone. Also, there was a period in which I sought an explanation from God for the meaning of my wife's death. It was only after I remembered and accepted that I had committed myself to accept that whatever happened was the will of God, that I began to realize that I needed to make an offering of my feelings. To be grateful for the love shared with Noriko and all the suffering, was liberating. I not only feel close to God, but I can take pride in the fact that my faith and my commitment to God remain unshaken. It took many tears and prayers to get to this point. Yet once I accepted that I needed to be thankful, I realized that to hold back in regret or resentment is to lose the benefit of all the prayers and conditions offered.

To look back at my marriage and to remember Noriko's death is to consider deeply the meaning and value of our Blessing. I am very grateful. Our marriage has been intense and of short earthly duration, but we have shared thus far a rich and satisfying love.

In memory of Noriko, I like to think that God is proud of this woman. Noriko served the providence until her illness no longer allowed it. Noriko lived on earth with a sincere loyalty to True Parents, and passed over fighting with every ounce of energy that she had. At least to me, my wife is a mother of faith. A teacher who has inspired my life. Whatever I do, I hope to make Noriko happy; I want Noriko to look upon my actions and be proud in front of her new-found friends and co-workers-for I am proud of this beloved daughter of True Parents!

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