Op-Ed

Jose Fernandez’s mom thanks Miami fans:‘I’ve been sustained by your love for my son’

José Fernández and his mother and grandmother watch a fireworks show at Marlins Park.
José Fernández and his mother and grandmother watch a fireworks show at Marlins Park.

Maritza Gómez Fernández, mother of late Miami Marlins pitcher José Fernández, sent the following opinion piece to the Miami Herald Editorial Board.

José Fernández is my only child. I shared him with an entire community who also loved him. My pain is profound. I know yours is, too. You loved him like a son, grandson, brother and friend; even those who never met him. You valued him as a baseball star, but regarded him as one among you.

Thanks to this great country that welcomed us, my son achieved his dream of reaching Major League Baseball and becoming a U.S. citizen. He never stopped loving Cuba deeply, but the United States was an inspiration for him.

I’ve been sustained by your love for my son. As his mother, thank you for that blessing. On behalf of my family, especially my mother, thank you for your prayers for him, Maria, and my granddaughter in her womb. I want to thank the community for supporting us in this, the most difficult moment of our lives. The love we’ve received helps us cope with this harsh reality.

I want to thank his Marlins family, Jeffrey Loria, David Samson, Michael Hill, his coaches, trainers and teammates over the years. I also want to thank his agent, Scott Boras. The moments he shared with all of you filled him with joy. At the Marlins, his dreams were highlighted and others were reached. It was there where he interacted with fans, offered his smile, and his joy for baseball.

Fans react to the death of Jose Fernandez during the funeral procession for the Marlins' pitcher on Sept. 28, 2016

My son was always thinking about how to help others. He had passion for helping children with cancer through Live Like Bella. He loved to engage with young people and inspire their future. He shared moments with Sabrina, a young lady with Down syndrome, to bring a smile to her face. He spent time with the older generation to connect with his roots. Amidst this nightmare, I thank God that my son, though young, left a real mark on this community, and you left one on him.

In the most inconsolable moments, in disbelief for what occurred, came the solemn procession on the streets of Miami. Along that difficult route, I saw the love at the ballpark from Marlins players and employees, and the community. I felt strength from the blessing at La Ermita, a sacred place for Cubans. I saw people on the sidewalks; the Cuban coffee salute at La Carreta, where the flags of Cuba and the United States were presented as symbols of my son’s patriotism. And, in a deeply profound moment for our family, I witnessed thousands visit St. Brendan’s to pay their respects.

Our comfort that night was everyone’s expression of love. It gave us strength. I also want to thank the Marlins, local authorities, the Miami-Dade Police and City of Miami Police Departments, St. Brendan’s, the clergy, musicians and choir, the media, and all who worked to offer my son a beautiful farewell. I want to thank Caballero Rivero Funeral Home and all who sent flowers and contributions to JDF16 Foundation. I want to thank MLB for all the tributes for my son.

I ask now for your continued prayers and that we all continue to pray for Emilio and Eduardo, and their loved ones. They have also suffered greatly. Please pray for Maria and Penelope.

And, a final request on behalf of my family: Live out the legacy of my son, José Fernández. Laugh like he did. Live joyfully the way he did. And I ask every little and major leaguer alike to enjoy the game the way he did. Let us continue to love Cuba and the United States as he did. Thank you for loving him, not forgetting him, and keeping his legacy alive.

My dearest son, thank you for being the best gift God gave me. Thank you for the kindheartedness you offered the community. Thank you for offering them your smile. I know that from Heaven you see how much everyone appreciated it.

Maritza Gómez Fernández is the mother of José Fernández.

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