Edu Benitez: A Boy Who Can Only Smile

When we decided to begin sharing stories with you, I was given the task of picking the first one. There are many touching stories, but I want it to be about a family. So when I came across the Benitez family's story, the decision was made.

Edu began life relatively healthy, but at 6 months old he was diagnosed with generalized non-convulsive epilepsy. His mother, Lizbet, was determined to give him the best life possible. For eight years, she ferried Edu between physical therapy, doctor visits, school, and games. They had a very close, very special relationship.

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Then Edu started to decline. His seizures worsened, and they were spending more time in the hospital than at home. Lizbet said, "He wasn't able to enjoy life. He couldn't go outside, He needed help to breathe and eat. He wasn't playing. He looked like he no longer cared for life."

When doctors suggested hospice, Lizbet resisted the idea. "I didn't want to even think about it," she says. "I thought hospice meant I wanted him to die. I thought people would think Edu was a burden and that I no longer wanted to keep him alive." So she vowed to take him home and care for him. But, "I wasn't sleeping. I wasn't spending time with my daughter. I just really crashed. I was so, so, so tired. None of use were really living our lives, especially Edu."

In October 2006, Lizbet decided to admit Edu to La Posada, our hospice house. About that experience, she said, "I didn't realize how tired I was until we came here. I started to feel peace. This is a sanctuary and a place to rest and be with my son." Edu seemed to agree: his first day here, he played hide and seek with a blanket and giggled. "He hadn't done that in years," his mother said. "It was like he was giving me a gift."

Providing a place of peace and comfort to anyone in need is our mission. We are honored to have been a part of the Benitez's journey. We would be honored to be a part of your journey, too.

This post was adapted from the cover story of the 2007 volume of The Storyteller, published by Mesilla Valley Hospice.