This project is an invitation to break the taboo. An inspiration and information channel for the ones who go through the grieving process and the ones who want to help

The immortal in death

When the grieving pain seems to give us a break, we realize that the best in our stories with our beloved ones can be immortalized and turned into a different existence.

 

I had the chance to know Cris Carvalho’s fame only: a versatile athlete, tireless, champion in every endurance competition you can imagine such as ultra marathons, duathlons, triathlons, MTB and everything that was to come and would represent endurance, adrenaline and passion, as the article at  Bahia Run tells in December 2015, when noticing her death.

A sports lover and totally convinced that everyone should seek quality of life through the “body in motion”, as she liked to say, Cris founded and was part of several sports projects such as the Adventure Center and the Women Project (initiatives for the adult public), and the incredible proposal of the Adventure Camp, where a race team of professionals aims to pass on their knowledge to the children in a 4-day experience in the woods that simulates a test of adventure.

I always thought the death of young people with healthy habits and sports practices one of the inconsistencies and mysteries of life. And when I learned of Cris, this feeling of disbelief came back to bother me. So I went to talk to two great friends of hers: Shubi Guimarães, her partner in the Adventure Camp and team partner in races and Maria Clara Vergueiro, “Marie”, who followed her very closely in her illness. So I could begin to tackle this issue and try to ease my discomfort which is perhaps, the same of those who read me now.

But Cris kept another surprise, an even more important learning that sincerely matches more with the proposal of our website: to talk of hope, transformation, coping and not the fear of the inevitable in life, which is death.

In less than 10 minutes of conversation I understand such a beautiful tribute that Chris received on the day of her death. Hundreds of friends changed their Facebook cover photos for a picture that one of them created to honor her with the following message: “Legends Never Die” 

Cris after one the races , already sick. Beside the stamp created by her friends in honor to her: Legends never die
Cris after one the races , already sick. Beside the stamp created by her friends in honor to her: Legends never die

This image caught my attention because I already knew about Cris’s super athlete reputation and it was not difficult to understand the word “legends” , but I got curious and interested on the subject “immortality” .

When my father was sick, he was very fond of repeating a phrase: “A person dies for good only after the last person who met him/her dies too, because before that, he/she will always be present in the speeches, gestures, memories of those who coexisted with her/him. ” I understood it, but I didn’t feel ready to value all that this phrase means for someone who passes and for someone who stays.

Talking to Shubi and Marie on a sunny afternoon, happy and facing a garden full of life I realized a few things. The conversation with the girls started quiet, a bit shy and unassuming. When I asked how Cris had faced the whole process of diagnosis, treatment and death acceptance itself, everything was changed! It was then that I understood in fact who actually Cris Carvalho was and why she received such honor that contradicts the end of the sentence of my father. Yes, there is such thing as “Never Die”.

We were three sitting around a table and suddenly it seemed 4.

The intensity and emotion that gripped the hearts of her friends to describe her and remember her 3 years of struggle against cancer made me see Cris clearly, even not having met her. Her body was not there, but her presence became so strong that I had immediately one of the most beautiful feelings I have had over our project – Let’s Talk About Grieving – the immortality in death.

Listening to those girls talking about her friend, going over everything they learned, with details and everything they went through along Cris’s struggle between life and death leaves us no other way to talk about Cris Carvalho but to say that she built her own immortality.

Since the day he received the news that she had an aggressive breast cancer with metastases in the bones, she did the possible and the impossible to face the disease as she did in all the toughest tests of her sportswoman career: with endurance, perseverance, a certain stubbornness and good humor. Given up by her doctors that there was any chance of healing she chose to race against time as best she could, and it made sense according to her lifestyle.

“She told me one day that she would rather live well two years with her son Luigi than four years lying in a hospital bed. Shubi, you will remember me running by your side as we are doing now, “says the friend.

Not that she has not looked for help, on the other way around; she went after several ways of alternative, spiritual and also conventional treatment. But her will to continue the fight standing, running, working and watching her students, friends and family made her resist to any kind of treatment that would physically weaken her.

“Cris decided to live! We realized that she was in pain, yet she never complained, never victimized herself and didn’t admit anyone to show any feeling of pity towards her. What she did was, with great humbleness, to adapt to that new situation. If she could not be a champion in her races, her mission would be just to finish them. And so she did. In an advanced stage of her disease already she ran for 3 days in the Andes. “She was not sick, she had a cell degeneration that led her to death ” says Marie remembering a sentence of Joseph Caputo, Cris’s husband.

Physical strength may well define Cris, but the immortal presence that caught my attention and moved me in our conversation was another. Cris planted a seed within every person who was related to her. “She told me one day that she would rather live well two years with her son Luigi than four years lying in a hospital bed. Shubi, you will remember me running by your side as we are doing now, “says the friend.

Not that she has not looked for help, on the other way around, she went after several ways of alternative, spiritual and also conventional treatment. But her will to continue the fight standing, running, working and watching her students, friends and family made her resist to any kind of treatment that would physically weaken her.

“Cris decided to live! We realized that she was in pain, yet she never complained, never victimized herself and didn’t admit anyone to show any feeling of pity towards her. What she did was, with great humbleness, to adapt to that new situation. If she could not be a champion in her races, her mission would be just to finish them. And so she did. In an advanced stage of her disease already she ran for 3 days in the Andes. “She was not sick, she had a cell degeneration that led her to death ” says Marie remembering a sentence of Joseph Caputo, Cris’s husband.

Physical strength may well define Cris, but the immortal presence that caught my attention and moved me in our conversation was another. Cris planted a seed within every person who was related to her.

It is difficult to define in words the feeling of extreme gratitude that I have seen come from the heart of each one to describe that what was behind that strength is unveiling a sensitive woman, who had an urgent need to prepare everyone for her PASSAGE, as she liked to say. “She taught me a lot and taught me every day. Several times she said she was not going away definitely, she was preparing to live in another way close to the people ” Shubi says, moved.

Cris has never spiritualized, but the severity of her illness, the lack of control she had over how much time was left to her and the will to find answers to support everyone made her develop an unusual sensitivity. “Every thing she studied and discovered she was teaching us. She had an amazing ability to mix all information and theories that she received and wrote he own survival kit. She acquired an amazing perception of herself, “says Marie with a smile on her face.

More than perception itself, I dare to say that Cris knew what she was doing.

I take this opportunity to quote a sentence that is the message I got from this history of these 3 great friends ”

“When a flower dies, a seed is born; when a seed dies, a plant is born. And life goes on its way, stronger than death “(Tagore)

When we lose someone, at first we see only pain, longing and an immeasurable desire to freeze the last moments we had with the person, so we never lose the freshness of their physical presence. But immersed in this ocean of pain, we do not pay attention that there is a seed waiting to sprout. When the weather calms our hearts and we think of the person with more longing and less pain is when I feel that immortality arises: a beautiful, strong, vivid plant.

It does not have the same beauty and the sweet smell of a flower, but it is impressive, wise, it is the best memory that we may have of the flower itself. Its most striking qualities, characteristics that we want to emulate. The color may be gone, but we still have the opportunity to honor and immortalize the best that this person left in our hearts.

Cris Carvalho left many seeds scattered in the hearts of many athletes, friends, partners and the son, ready to be watered and grow, becoming majestic and strong plants like her!

 

Friends gathering in November 2012. From the left to the right, standing: Cris, Shubi, Bebel, Marie and Mati. Sitting: Cau, Belô and Vivi
Friends gathering in November 2012. From the left to the right, standing: Cris, Shubi, Bebel, Marie and Mati. Sitting: Cau, Belô and Vivi