Winning death in the heart
In my work as a nurse, I am part of the team that attends to the Health Care Service for Caritas in the Diocese of Rome. Among the many people I meet every day, with their problems, toils and even the joys of having achieved desired goals, there is a wonderful woman who volunteers with us: her name is Daniela.
When I have already got to know and appreciate her way of being, I discovered that Daniela has behind her a very significant experience of suffering and rebirth in faith, which she bravely made public in a book: Questa è la mia vita! Storia di una donna sieropositiva che ha vinto la morte del cuore. (This is my life! Story of an HIV-positive woman who won death in the heart).
Touched by her path of life, I would like to briefly present her story to you, because it is a strong testimony of how "Faith and Hope" can change lives.
At the age of 7, Daniela was aware of the physical and verbal violence her father exerts against her mother. After the separation of her parents, together with her brother, she was taken away from her mother and brought into the house of her maternal grandparents; there she was faced with rejection and verbal violence on the part of her grandmother in particular.
At the age of 18, she met a boy and in him she found all the love that has been denied her and of which she feels the need; He loves her too, but her grandma hindered this relationship.
Her brother introduced her to a friend of his. She does not love him, but, feeling pampered, she gets involved in the relationship. Unfortunately, soon, that appearance of love was replaced by violence that passes from words to fist: he beats her, takes all her salary,... only after five years, she managed to free herself from this unhealthy relationship, and solely at that point, did he tell her that he is HIV positive and that he consciously wanted to infect her with the HIV virus.
With this news her umpteenth ordeal begins: the struggle with the disease, the hospitalizations, the fear of being completely alone. Daniela hides everything from everyone and brings her immense suffering into the secret of her heart, confiding only in Mary, whom she calls “the Mother of Heaven”. She begins to struggle, however, because she has so much desire to live. In this situation of great solitude, she clings with all her strength to faith and prayer.
One day, she finds herself sitting in a corner inside a church, crying desperately, a young priest approached her, comforted and encouraged her not to turn off that light she carries inside of her: a great desire to love and be loved.
She decided to give her life for the good of those who suffer, and begins to accompany the sick to Lourdes, as a UNITALSI volunteer. The contact with the suffering of other people and the experience of Mary's presence gave her an incredible drive to be reborn, giving so much love to everyone.
After 12 years, Daniela meets her "First Love" again, of whom she gave up at the age of 18, and thanks to him, she regains the strength and the desire to love and be loved, being able to fulfill her great desire: to become a mother. His two sons, Emanuele and Benedetta, are today, two handsome boys, both HIV-negative!
A few years later, the moment finally came to free herself from the mask linked to the fear of being considered “Contaminated”, and, with the support of her husband, she decides to talk about her HIV-positiveness to her family and that of her husband who were unaware of everything.
In our service today, Daniela follows an HIV-positive and mentally ill patient: she accompanies him out for a walk, helps him to relish the beauty of social life.
For me too, Daniela is and has been a guiding light in the right path, that of faith, hope and charity. She puts everything in the hands of Mary, her beloved Mother, and Jesus Christ, her companion in pain and joy.
This makes her a lamp that shines, a person who truly knows how to love.
Thank you Daniela for who you are!
Sr. Anna Ubaldi (Roma, via degli Artisti)
17 June 2019