Miguelito Toma Pu died in October of 2009. He was a little boy who sparkled with life. He strode through the world as if he could do anything that came his way. “Mic” had an infectious smile. He was often in to something he shouldn’t be, but, despite the annoyance, one couldn’t help but laugh along with him when caught in the middle of his deed. Family, neighbors and foreign guests were all entertained by his love for life. He was even able to put a smile on Mundo volunteer Silas’ face when Silas was so worried about his mother and her battle with cancer.
One day, while tussling with his brothers in their front yard, Mic came too close the to back hoofs of the family horse. The horse kicked out, hitting Mic in the head. In an instant, the gregarious Mic lay quiet on the ground. His father put him on his back and walked the three hours from their little village to the road head and then one hour by truck to the health clinic in Chajul. There the doctors realized that the boy, who was in a coma, would most likely not make it, but they did not want to tell Mic’s dad, Nicolas. Instead, they told him to take his son to the hospital in Quiche, another 6 hours away for xrays and “advanced medical attention.” The father and son went on the public bus straight to the hospital. By the time they reached Quiche it was pretty clear that Miguelito was not going to make it. He died in Quiche, far from the land he loved.
Nicolas brought his body home in a small wooden casket that Miguelito’s god mother had bought for his burial. In the Maya community, it is the living relatives who are responsible for laying to rest and watching over those who have returned to the ancestors. It is a duty that is taken with great seriousness. The entire village often becomes involved.
One morning in mid-October the villagers walked with the family to the cemetery and laid Miguelito to rest some eight feet under the fertile coffee growing land. After, the family and community returned to the home of Nicolas. As they were reciting the rosary, one of the community members who had stayed behind came running to their house explaining that they had seen the earth trembling as if Miguelito was trying to get out of his grave. Everyone ran back up the steep hill, dug the eight feet down to where the casket that held Mic’s body lay to investigate if indeed he was still alive.
When they opened the casket it was clear that he had not “reawoken”. He was now with the ancestors.
The family mourned his death for many days. Then they decided that Miguelito was indeed wanting to return for a “second chance.” And so Nicolas and Magdelena had another child, Nicolas Miguelito Toma Pu.
He was born December, 2011. He is a happy baby with a strong penchant for life. Magdelena, Nicholas, and two of their six children Evelyn Magdelena, and Pascual, brought their new son and brother to the baptism in Chajul. Mundo Director Joan Williams and the god-mother of all the Toma Pu family, Sister Evie, joined with Padre Santos and the family to celebrate new life. For Joan, this was the first time out of four baptisms she had witnessed with the family that the baby laughed and smiled throughout the ceremony – even when the water was bouncing off of his little face. It was a good sign for all.
Mundo Exchange is proud to accompany families in times of grave sadness and in times of hope and renewal. Our presence at such an awspicous occasion for the family seemed important to those present. It is the solidarity through times of sadness and joy that allow our human spirits to embrace one another across cultural and linguistic boundaries in appreciation of those precious moments that celebrate life anew.