by Katie Vasquez
Paul and Erika Cerni couldn’t wait to welcome their daughter mariana.
“We were getting everything ready. We had the baby shower. we had all the gifts and like the boxes of baby gear just kind of lined up,” said Holy Child Jesus Church parishioner, Erika Cerni.
31 weeks in, Erika woke up in pain. Her husband, Paul, immediately drove her to the hospital.
“Any pothole, any bump on the road, in the highway or just anything, any sudden movement or jumping movement caused pain,” said Erika Cerni.
The mom-to-be was rushed into the operating room.
“They were monitoring her heartbeat and at some point they just weren’t able to detect her heartbeat anymore,” said Erika Cerni.
Mariana didn’t make it.
“You don’t ever think you’re going to bury your child. You never expect to bury your own child,” said Erika Cerni.
“I would say that probably was the worst day of my life was burying my daughter,” said Holy Child Jesus parishioner, Paul Cerni.
The loss was devastating for the Queens couple. On top of it, they had to tell everyone including their spiritual family at Holy Child Jesus in Richmond Hill.
In the last seven months that community had been helping them prepare.
“A lot of people would come up and say that this is our baby, this is everyone’s baby. and in the community. This is Richmond Hill’s baby,” said Erika Cerni.
And it was Richmond Hill that banded together to get them through.
“We didn’t have to cook for about two months. They really, really took care of us in that sense,” said Erika Cerni.
“People really came out big time. They offered to offer their help. they asked what they could do for us. and the first thing I told them is pray for us,” said Paul Cerni.
Now, the Cerni’s want to return the favor.
They’re helping to put together a special mass of remembrance at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph for other parents who have suffered.
“In mourning our loss, we wanted to incorporate other parents as well. and what they’ve gone through and see how we could support them,” said Paul Cerni.
As heartbreaking as this experience has been, it never broke their faith.
“When something like this happens and you lose something so precious, you appreciate that so much more,” said Paul Cerni.
Instead, they move forward knowing they have God, their parish and their guardian angel, Mariana, to guide them.