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Before my father died of cancer, I asked him, “Dad, do you believe in eternal life?”

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Sara Capobianchi

Silvia Lucchetti - published on 02/10/22

A daughter shares her parents' testimony of faith and love.

Sara Capobianchi tells us the story of her parents Fausto and Fiorella to “share a small testimony of faith and love that they’ve given—above all to me, and then to all those around us.”

This is what Sara herself wrote in an email addressed to our editorial staff a few months ago:

Thank you for choosing Aleteia to share such a precious and beautiful story, which reminds us that death doesn’t have the last word, because Christ has defeated it by giving us eternal life.

If I had to sum up what Sara shared with me over the phone, I would say “eternal life.” Here is some of our conversation.

Aleteia: Sara, could you please introduce yourself?

My name is Sara, I’m 30 years old. I am the second of three children. I work as a mail carrier  and majored in languages. I wanted to tell the story of my parents to give a small testimony of faith, to give glory to God. My parents were Fausto and Fiorella. They got married in 1987 in Rome, the city where we live, when they were 23 years old. The year after their marriage they had a baby girl, Ambra, who died after only 4 months of life due to genetic malformations. And then, my brother Alessio and I were born. My parents came from Christian families, but they weren’t practicing Christians; we only went to Mass on holidays. But God, who is a good God, called them to Himself through a painful event: through my mother’s illness. 

When did your mom get sick?

In 2001, Mom discovered she had a malignant brain tumor. Doctors gave her only a few months to live. Despair spread through our house and took a hold of my parents. My mother’s only wish was to see us children, who were 10 and 5 years old at the time, grow up. During this period of sadness, discouragement, and anguish, my parents were invited by some of their friends to listen to some catecheses at church, which dealt with hope and faith. My father went first, and shortly thereafter my mother went as well. That’s how they approached God, and they began to make a spiritual journey (the Neocatechumenal Way, Ed.).

After she was diagnosed with cancer, what happened?

She was given no hope. The specialists who treated her said that the tumor was inoperable and that, unfortunately, there was nothing they could do. My parents didn’t give up; they couldn’t resign themselves. For my mother, the thought of leaving us was distressing. We were still children and she needed more time. My father managed to find a doctor in northern Italy who was willing to operate on her. Mom underwent the operation, which by God’s grace went well, and the Lord gave her another 15 years of life. God had accepted her desire to see us grow up, and despite the various difficulties and problems caused by the disease, my mother never stopped believing and going to Church.

What gift did her testimony leave you?

I remember that when my parents went to the north for my mother’s treatment, often some brothers from their community would join them to support them: this closeness impressed our relatives a lot. Dad and I had focused our entire lives on taking care of her, right up until the end, until my mom Fiorella returned to the Father’s house in 2014. Her funeral was a great celebration. The love of God and the whole Church sustained us always, both during her illness and at the moment of death. God allowed me to know Him through this painful experience, so that I could witness that He doesn’t save from suffering but in suffering, and He doesn’t protect us from death but in death, never abandoning you. God is with us no matter what happens to us. And this was a reminder for my father when he found out he was sick too.

When did your dad start getting sick?

In 2019, Dad was diagnosed with colon cancer. Despite the two surgeries he underwent and the various treatments he had, the disease progressed fast enough to spread throughout his body. When the doctor told me that Dad only had a few weeks to live, my faith wavered. I absolutely had to tell him that he had very little time left. I wanted him to get ready.

So that day, before telling him what the doctor had told me, I went to him—he was probably already aware of everything—and I asked him a question that was very important to me. I asked him: “Dad, do you believe in eternal life?” And he answered me: “Yes, I do.” He said it with a strong, decisive, serious tone. Only then was I able to tell him the full news.

How did you deal with the last moments of his life?

I was certain of his faith. I was certain that, in spite of everything, Dad thought that “God had done everything right in his life.” The last days spent together with him praying were immense gifts for me that I will treasure in my heart forever. The most beautiful inheritance, the most precious good that he transmitted to me is this: faith. The Lord allowed me to stay close to Dad until the end, until, surrounded by love, in May 2021, he returned to the house of the Father, where I am sure that my mom and sister were waiting for him.

His funeral was also a great celebration. With his life, Dad touched the hearts of so many people who were there. The profession of the creed that was sung in the church was a seal to this whole story. It may seem to be just a sad story, full of suffering and death, but in reality, in the midst of all that, the immense love of God, which has never abandoned us and never will, has always shone through. With this small testimony, I hope to give a pinch of courage to all those who feel crushed by life. Take courage! The Lord is with us. Forever.

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Catholic LifestyleDeathParenting
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