Guest View: Remembering a ‘gentle, little giant’

Erendida is shown at her Quinceanera at The Vault.

Words cannot adequately express the feelings of losing a young person whose dreams will never become reality but who had the courage, strength and inspiration to show others that while life can be rough, and illnesses can become burdensome, you cannot give up on hope and the desire to continue a path of dreaming for a better chance at life. I think the loss of someone we love is perhaps the hardest challenge that anyone ever has to face.
My heart goes out to Erendida Becerra’s family, her friends and her LULAC Youth Council members who were touched by her recent passing. She was a brilliant light to many who knew her; she was a happy and joyful person to be around. When around her you could not help but see the enthusiasm she had for life.
For several years it has been my honor and privilege to have been able to have Erendida as a little friend and truly enjoyed her sincerity and her desire to do for others while she struggled with illnesses. I recall the times she wanted to travel to events with the youth and was unable to do so due to her health. At one time, she came into our home and was straightforward with me and told me to let her mother know that she was feeling fine and she needed to go on a trip to Google with the high school students and LULAC Youth. While seeing her determination, I followed her direction and asked her mom permission to take her with me to the Google visit. It was most inspiring to see her participate in the long-day activity and not look tired. On the way home, we stopped at In-N-Out Burger and she seemed so excited. As small as she was I have never seen someone down a hamburger like she did that day. She thanked us for making that stop and said she would advocate for Hollister to have an In-N-Out Burger so her mom didn’t have to cook so much.
Being around her felt like having wings and flying because of her bubbly attitude and her motivation to move around and dance or just be happy. She attended an event last year where I could not help but take my camera and focus on her dancing with a group of other young people. She lifted her arms and smiled at everyone, just plain enjoying herself. Recently in her emails she said she wanted to dance again and mentioned she wanted a birthday party so all her family, friends and LULAC youth would be happy and would dance together.  Her wish came true on Saturday, Nov. 30, as she danced and enjoyed herself.   
Erendida had made a special wish with the Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital Make A Wish Foundation, and that was to celebrate her Quinceanera (15th) Birthday celebration because when she turned 15 she was not able to have had that party and now two years later, her wish was to go back in time and celebrate that special birthday. Her wish was granted and LULAC was contacted for assistance.  LULAC contacted community members requesting assistance to fulfill this wish and the community responded. She was transported by ambulance and her medical team came with her to her hometown where she was to enjoy her Quinceanera Birthday Celebration.  
Her celebration was held during the Lights On Parade. Many community members took the opportunity to stand outside the Vault facility and light candles and sing to her that special birthday song and Las Mananitas when she was taken off the ambulance and escorted in to the Vault banquet hall. The Rancho San Justo Band stopped along their parade route, went inside the hall and played and sang Happy Birthday to her. Father Rudy Ruiz came by and gave her a blessing. A local Banda showed up and sang to her. DJ Miguel played the special song while she danced with her dad and her chambelan (partner). She danced with her friends as they circled her on the floor. Her medical team of doctors, nurses and paramedics also danced with her. She was the debutante of the ball. She danced her heart out as she had wished. A week later she embarked into a journey where she became our guardian Angel.
Erendida touched so many lives, and inspired us to create heaven on earth by just being happy and making others feel the same. She was our gentle, little giant who instilled love and friendship; even at her young age she became a source of motivation for others. I once mentioned to her that she was an angel who made us realize how important life was. She then said something that I will never forget. “Someday I will be an Angel and I will take good care of all of you.” And that we believe.
Erendida is still very much with us, but just not in body anymore. Love is an eternal bond, and you only need to think of her with love and think of her smiling back at you. She is already missed.
Mickie Luna is a Hollister resident and vice president of the western region for the League of United Latin American Citizens.

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