The American Killed in the Paris Terrorist Attack.
‘Sparks’ of Life Found Everywhere
We were in Whittier, CA in December, for various reasons, one of which was to meet with many alumni in California to plan a LA Gala and to find a place to do Grief Recovery retreats there. We had a layover in Houston and saw the news reports of the San Bernardino terrorist attack. I got on Google maps and discovered Whittier was about a 45-minute drive to San Bernardino. Suddenly, this attack became a bit closer to home, as we like to say.
After arriving later that day and checking into our hotel, I went across the street to get a haircut. No one else was there, so it was just the barber and me. Now I like to talk, as all who know me would attest. So he and I talked. The conversation started as most do – Why are you in town, what do you do, etc., and of course this conversation was in the backdrop of this horrific attack.
When I told him my occupation – working with those who have devastating losses, doing Grief Recovery Retreats, etc., his response was quite interesting. He said perhaps we are in Whittier for another reason we had not expected – concerning all those devastated by losing a loved one in these attacks.
He then asked me if I remembered the Paris attacks a few weeks earlier, and did I remember that there was one American killed. Of course I do, I responded, and wasn’t she a student?
She was a student, Nohemi Gonzalez. He then shared that her mother Beatriz was a dear friend, and used to work for him, right down the road in a shop he had previously owned. He knew the family well, and often saw and talked with Nohemi. “She was a beautiful, wonderful person,” he said. “So full of life and dreams. Her mother is simply devastated, of course. She doesn’t know what to do.”
“Do you see the mother, often,” I asked. He said he does, and then startled himself and me. “I almost forgot. Her memorial service is tomorrow, and I am going. I will see Beatriz tomorrow. Should I tell her about Spark of Life?
I told him that he should probably wait until after the service, but that when he thought it was the right time, that he could simply mention meeting me, and giving her a brochure. “Give her my phone number, and tell her she can call at any time.”
“I will,” he said. “I think you were destined to be here today.”
I haven’t heard from Beatriz yet, but expect to some day. Please pray for her mom, and family, and friends. In next week’s blog I will share what happened near the end of our stay in California – when I visited San Bernardino, and had another one of those ‘destiny’ talks.
Nohemi was a junior at Long Beach State studying design. Gonzalez had been dating her boyfriend, Tim Mraz, since 2012, according to her Facebook page, which is filled with photos from her time abroad and with her friends and family in California.
“Yesterday I lost the most important person in my life,” Mraz wrote on Instagram. “She was my best friend and will always be my angel forever. I am lost for words. My prayers are with her family. Such a bright soul and the sweetest girl with a smile on her face.”