A machine forced air into his lungs as his rib cage heaved up and down, screaming and beeping as it synchronizes with bags bringing him fluid and morphine. His 4 kids watch over him.
His wife, Rosanna, squeezes my hand and says through tears: “He is going to die, and I can’t do anything.”
I first met Rosanna weeks after our daughter, Luna, had been born.
My friends Mirta and Maite had employed her as their nanny and adored her affectionate way with children. Luna was lying in her playpen screaming, her eyes freshly opened. I raced around the apartment in my pajamas at 4 p.m. trying to figure out how to breast feed. Luna became calm almost as soon as Rosanna picked her up.
“A baby is a like clean slate,” she said smiling at our daughter. “I get to fill the slate. The only thing I ask is that you not get upset if I fall in love with her. Some parents get mad, and I just can’t help it.”
She fell in love with Luna, and we fell in love with Rosanna, who brought so much more than help with diapers and cries of distress. Luna learned to eat and crawl, then walk, all on her watch. Then she began to talk in English and Spanish, thanks to Rosanna.
Rosanna formed this big happy crew with all the other Latina caregivers. Luna and Jackie and Sydney and Sofia and Ana, a string of little ones right behind them, went on adventures to the water park yelling “agua agua” and eating loads of rice and beans. Suddenly this little person emerged who had adopted our caregiver’s thoughtful, shy demeanor, who ate more vegetables than we could provide and had this delicate humility that is missing in so many little kids.
Rosanna had left her own babies behind in the Dominican Republic to come care for the babies of families here.
When we were finally able to tear ourselves away from our little girl, she spent a few weekends at their house and was indignant to find out that Rosanna and her husband shared the same bed. She wanted to sleep in between.
Luna called Franklin “Gomito” and adopted a Dominican accent.
Franklin feared dying alone. All of the families whose children and sitters were connected to Rosanna stepped in to help cover her hours and help with finances. The family was able to take shifts sitting by his side. Rosanna cared for him all night and all morning, before caring for my child and two others. She picked up every hour of work she could bear to make up for his lost income, and she prayed and prayed and prayed.
On Wednesday evening, we sat our daughter down to tell her that “Gomito” had died.
That her beloved Rosanna and her children will be very sad and we will need to give all the help we can. We told her, as she cried softly, that every person is born and every person dies, you just don’t know when.
That it’s sad but that all you can do is live your own life well and remember them fondly.
We also told her, that we are all in this life together.
A contributor to Mamiverse, Rose Arce is a senior producer with CNN. For the full version of this article, go to CNN.com.