Hearts were broken in Greenport on Monday as news spread that a little girl, 7, has lost her brave fight for life.
“It is with deep regret, that I inform you that we have lost one of our young Porters today. Bethzy Lopez passed away today. She was truly an inspiration to all. She was just seven years young. She fought a tough battle with the will to never gave up,” wrote Greenport Elementary School Principal Joseph Tsaveras in a message to the district.
According to Sister Margaret Smyth of the North Fork Spanish Apostolate, Bethzy died Sunday at Stony Brook Hospital after fighting a genetic disorder from birth.
But Sister Margaret chooses to remember the child’s beautiful life and spirit. “She was funny, a teaser,” she said. “She loved to paint her fingernails.”
And, sister Margaret said, she was smart, speaking two languages.
Due to her illness, Bethzy was not able to attend school with her fellow second grade classmates; she had instructors come to her home.
Bethzy’s heartbroken family includes her parents, Jose and Mirta, and her siblings Lucia and Genesis. Her mother, Sister Margaret said, has not been home to Greenport in months, caring for her little girl in the hospital.
Reflecting on one of Bethzy’s happiest memories, Sister Margaret recalled when she and Sister Lynn dressed up as Mickey and Minnie Mouse to celebrate Bethzy’s First Holy Communion, which was held at the same time as her parents’ wedding.
According to a July 1, 2012 article in The Long Island Catholic, making her first Holy Communion at St. Agnes in Greenport meant a great deal to the little girl, who had “an enormous love for Jesus.”
Bethzy, the article said, was the size of a toddler, with her condition affecting her lungs and heart and forcing her to remain attached to an oxygen tank by a tube in her throat.
But the little girl, the article stated, loved Disney princesses, and so, Sister Margaret worked with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to help with the communion, her parents’ wedding — and her first visit with Mickey and Minnie.
“The entire family walked down the aisle together, Jose pushing the wheelchair that held the equipment which helps his daughter breathe,” the article stated. “Instead of flowers, the bride carried Bethzy in one arm while she clasped the hand of three-year-old Lucia with her other hand. The wedding didn’t start on time, not because the bride was late, but because Bethzy was having trouble breathing. Her mother and father donned blue surgical gloves with their wedding finery to clear Bethzy’s airway and pump oxygen into her lungs. During the wedding ceremony, Jose had to regularly reach over to stop a beeping alarm on the oxygen monitor. Other times, Bethzy did it herself. At times she seemed tired, slumping over the arm of her wheelchair from the stool she perched on, but when it came time for the Gospel reading, Bethzy stretched herself up as tall as she could and joined enthusiastically in singing the ‘Allelulia.” Jose and Mirta exchanged their vows with their daughters looking on,” said the article.
“In times of challenges and difficulties, this is where we see real love,” Sister Margaret said in the article. This week, she added that no matter what challenges the little girl faced, she never lost hope. “For Bethzy, there was no end,” she said.
The tragedy was the second heartbreaking loss of a child in the Greenport Union Free School District hti syear. In March, Steve Anaya-Villamil, 7, died after a lengthy fight with brain seizures. Grief cloaked the community as Steve’s parents, Zanesa C. Villamil and Edgar Anaya, buried their child.
Benches and soccer equipment have been added to the Greenport playground in his honor.
SoutholdLOCAL photo courtesy of Fe Fuerza Vida, the Spanish-language publication of the Rockville Centre Diocese.