Kindness, Hope, & Love
My Beautiful Friend Annamarie Moreno
Annamarie Morino (right) and Ligia Andrade Zuniga (left)
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I’m not really sure how it was that I was in touch with Annamarie, whether it was an email or phone call requesting I visit her, or just in my rounds on the 1st floor of the rehab department in the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. You see, I sustained a spinal cord injury in 2009 in which the Peer Support program was invaluable and influential in my physical and emotional recovery. I joined the program as a Peer Supporter because I wanted to provide the same hope that I received after my SCI to other people experiencing the same kind of injury. So did Annamarie.
The day I met Annamarie I remember rolling into a dimly lit hospital room with mixed emotions, excited to share my story and support with someone who had just experienced the same thing I had, and saddened by the same idea. A tall slender woman with long dark hair and a very calm demeanor greeted me. She looked very tired and sad. She stood up and smiled, she introduced herself, and if I remember correctly as Annamarie’s aunt. I introduced myself and explained what my purpose was for the visit. She then introduced me to Annamarie, a young woman with long dark hair, big expressive eyes, and a beautiful smile. “Hi, my name is Ligia,” I said. “Hi, I am Annamarie,” she replied, and that is where this friendship began. I proceeded to tell her all about my injury and my experience right before, during the medical process in the hospital, and how my life evolved thereafter leaving the hospital. I asked her about her life, about who she was, and what brought her to this place. after all, we are all just human beings living life connected by this unfortunate circumstance.She was very forthcoming, very trusting, but most of all very kind. We talked for over an hour like we had been friends for years. another one of the reasons I knew that our friendship would flourish was that she asked me about my shoes. That day I was wearing my bright yellow wedges that made my legs sit tall and proud even though they had no life in them. The brightness of the yellow attracted sunlight and positivity. “When will I be able to wear shoes like that again?” she asked. “You’re going to be just fine,”I replied. Our friendship was meant to be.
I went to visit her a couple more times after the initial visit, but discharged time came and I just waited to see her again at one of the Peer Support meetings, or chat with her over the phone when she was home. Over the years we’ve shared conversations in person, via Skype, over the phone, and via text message. Our friendship developed quickly being that it was so easy to be friends with such a loving and amazing person. Our children were around the same ages at the points of our injuries which exchanging parenting tips brought us even closer. Annamarie and I had planned to start a peer group for the young and/or adult children of individuals with SCI to share their experiences, their fears, anxieties, high points, and low point of this journey with their parents and how it has affected them. Unfortunately, we kept postponing our beginning date, and it never happened. Annamarie loved her children, they were her life. There was nothing she wouldn’t do for them, and the ultimate purpose of acceptance and moving forward was for those two kids. This was the fountain this passion she had around our project overflowed from.
Although I have many memories of Annamarie, of many conversations, many laughs, many tears, my most favorite memory was when we went to a concert for my birthday with my mom, and my sister-in-law. Because Annamarie’s birthday was around the same time, we made it a celebration for both. When we got to the venue we couldn’t find each other. I think we were both going around in circles, and as soon as one of us would get to a certain point, the other one would have just left. This happened over and over for about half an hour. Finally! We found each other! I remember Annamarie rolling through the door with her bright pink lipstick radiating from her gigantic smile and her beautiful bright pink cardigan. We had so much fun that night, we laughed so hard we got a headache, lost our voices, for that moment in time life was good.
Supporting one another whether it be through a formalized program like the program we were affiliated with, or just casually meeting people, the power of human connection is what allows our souls, our spirits to recover from tragedy and loss. It is not a coincidence that she and I became such good friends; at that time in my life I needed some light. My life became that much more colorful and vibrant having her as a friend, We meet so many people throughout our lives, some come and go, but some leave a permanent imprint. That is what Annamarie left in my life, a permanent imprint of kindness, hope, perseverance, and love. You see, I didn’t just help her in her recovery; she has also helped me in mine. She always thanked me for guiding her through this, but she also guided me at times. I will miss my friend Annamarie Moreno.
“Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow. Just walk beside me, and be my friend.”-Albert Camus
Annamarie Moreno, age 33, passed away on July 12, 2018. Annamarie was a woman of strong faith and love for God. She loved singing, dancing, sewing and spending time with her family and friends. She was a beloved Mother, Daughter, Granddaughter, Sister, Aunt, cousin and a friend to many. She will be remembered for her beautiful smile and love she had for people. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her.
Annamarie was a SCI peer supporter at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center where she spent her time following her spinal cord injury in 2012 and had a beautiful smile from day one.
Family and Friends are invited to attend:
Celebration of Life Services
July 20, 2018 at 3pm
Mt. Pleasant Christian Center
3535 Clayton Rd.
San Jose, Ca 95127
Reception immediately following
St. John Vianney Community Center
4600 Hyland Rd.
San Jose, Ca 95127