UC Berkeley Grad Draws Comfort, Inspiration From Late Father During Trying Times

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RICHMOND (CBS SF) — Losing a parent is one of the most traumatic events anyone will ever go through. So when Cynthia Ramirez-Parra saw her mother be hospitalized, she turned to what some may see as an unconventional place for comfort, her late father’s graveside.

It’s a place that Ramirez-Parra considers her safe space. And it’s where she visits the most important man in her life.

“I know that he’s here … hearing me,” said Ramirez-Parra. “My father was a very strong, bold man that had high expectations for his daughters. He wanted us to see us succeed in any way possible. I was pretty much his golden child.”

He was murdered two years ago, an event that devastated his daughter. So Ramirez-Parra comes to his graveside often to share life’s highs and lows with her dad, visits she sees as a blessing.

“A blessing because now when I am there I feel like he’s there,” explained Ramirez-Parra. “I feel like I have his support, that he is hearing me out.”

And the Richmond resident has had a lot of good news. She just graduated from UC Berkeley and landed her first job at a non-profit helping other young people succeed in school.

But then 2020 took a turn. On a family visit to the cemetery, Ramirez-Parra saw something troubling happening with her mother.

“Father’s Day we were at the cemetery,” recalled Ramirez-Parra. “We noticed that my mom was really not feeling it. She had no energy.”

Ramirez-Parra rushed her mother to the hospital that night. The next day, her mom would be diagnosed with COVID-19, admitted, then intubated 72 hours later -two years to the day after Ramirez-Parra’s father was killed. Ramirez-Parra would not see her mother for over a month as she battled the virus.

“Suddenly, like no one was there for her, no one was in the hospital to be with her,” recalled Ramirez-Parra of her mother’s illness. “But also just that it was my father’s death anniversary so it really was just so many mixed emotions all at once.”

While her mother was hospitalized, Ramirez-Parra filled her days with work, took care of younger siblings, and when her mother finally came home, the family rejoiced.

“I think out of everyone at the hospital, she is the only one who survived out of the people she was with,” revealed Ramirez-Parra. “My mom is, as the hospital likes to call it, a huge miracle.”

A miracle Ramirez-Parra has shared with her dad, but one she feels he knows about already.

“I am helping my family,” said Ramirez-Parra. “As I had told him I promised I would do.”