Luzvy Aguilar will be happy to see the year end, happy to put behind her a few months of bad luck and bad health. As far as years go, 2012 was not a particularly good one.
“New year, new start,” she says in Spanish, and then giggles hopefully.
Aguilar is 24, the single mother of a 5-year-old girl, Nerly Mejia, and a 2-year-old boy, Christopher Aguilar. She works, mostly fulltime, at a nursery in Homestead and shares a spartan townhouse with her brother. But since her common-law husband, father of her two children, was deported to Mexico more than two years ago, it’s been tough making ends meet on her earnings.
“For me alone,” she adds, “it’s very hard. I live month to month.”
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This year her situation worsened. About seven months ago, she noticed a growth on the side of Christopher’s neck. What she initially thought was a pimple turned out to be much worse. The child’s pediatrician eventually sent the boy to Miami Children’s Hospital where, after a battery of tests, specialists determined that a mysterious bacteria had invaded the boy’s glands.
Treatment: A twice a day dose of powerful antibiotics.
While the infection seems to be receding, Aguilar’s responsibilities are only growing. She must often miss work to take the boy from their home in Florida City’s Everglades Village to the hospital specialists.
The illness has taken a toll on Aguilar’s finances — and on Christopher’s attitude. “Before all this happened,” she says, “he was a good eater and good boy, well behaved. Now he has no appetite. He’s very restless.”
Just as Christopher’s prognosis began to brighten, Aguilar faced another setback. On a rainy day about three months ago, she stopped on the side of the road when she spotted a friend trying to change a flat tire. The two women managed to put on a spare, but when Aguilar drove away, she skidded on the slick pavement and crashed into a palm tree.
She ended up in the hospital for four days, her right side numb and her body bruised. Then she had to stay out of work for more than two weeks and fell behind on her bills. “All my bills, even day care, I’m behind on,” she says.
Aguilar also worries about her asthmatic daughter. Nerly attends special speech therapy sessions at her elementary school. Though her articulation is improving, the little girl finds it difficult to make herself understood when she speaks and often gets frustrated. This weighs heavy on Aguilar’s heart.
Despite the obstacles, says Francis Contreras, an assistant coordinator at Redlands Christian Migrant Association, Aguilar perseveres. “We see it on a daily basis, how much she struggles, how hard she works. She tries to do as much as she can.”
When RCMA decided to nominate Aguilar as a Herald Wishbook candidate, “what she asked for was for her children,” Contreras adds. “She’s very devoted.”
Aguilar would like a bed for her daughter. Until recently the two were sleeping on the floor. Now they share a bed, but neither can get much sleep. A sofa would also give the family a place to sit in the tiny living room.
“Toys?” Aguilar echoes, when asked if the children would like something to play with for the holidays.
After some prompting, she says that Christopher could use a tricycle to ride outside with his sister and the neighborhood kids. Nerly would appreciate a doll.
Whatever comes their way, Aguilar says they will make do as long as the family is together. “On the days that I don’t work I take them to the park and we play,” Aguilar says. “We laugh a lot. That doesn’t cost anything.”