From the Rev: Remembering Elysa
Nearly one year ago, one of the most devastating losses occurred for a member of the Colorado Rapids staff – the sudden and tragic death of almost 3-year old, Elysa Rojas was a painful moment for so many at the club, but none so much as parents Jaime and Jana. Jaime Rojas has served as the Rapids Head Athletic Trainer since 2010 – the year the Rapids won MLS Cup and his daughter Elysa was born in February of that same year.
Elysa held a special place, too, in the hearts of those that played and worked for the club during those years – she could be seen out a training session with mom and sister, and was always giving dad a hug and a kiss from the stands before each home game. In late September, Rapids media staffer German Sferra wrote the story as Jaime and Jana found the space to start to share about what had happened and their hope that Elysa, and the little-known virus which took her life, would be turned into something helpful and beautiful for others who suffered or fell prey to the same thing. The family setup a foundation to teach others and to help raise awareness – you can follow, like, and learn more at their Facebook page here.
As a chaplain, this was one of the most difficult moments in my time in ministry. I made reference to it last year – but in reflecting further, there was something deeper that impacted me – it was the fact that Jaime and I share a birth year of our daughters. My twin girls were born in July of 2010 – just five months after Elysa. We joked at the time because all the staff and players were having girl babies – there wasn’t a boy born for a long stretch of time. And as we shared stories of sleepless nights and daddy hopes and dreams for our little girls we shared a bond together as fathers of newborns. To watch Jaime and Jana go through that pain and to feel, just as many others do in these moments, an overwhelming sense of helplessness – it is a space that I would not wish for any parent or their friends. But in those same moments, God’s presence and his peace can sometimes be so tangibly felt and seen in ways we would have never thought possible or could have imagined – it can be through a word of scripture, a song, even a memory (as difficult as it maybe). And for me, I believe that there are spaces where we have no words with our grief – we have only the heart ache and tears – but God sees and knows these things and they are as a prayer unto Him.
As the anniversary of Elysa’s death (or as some have rightly put it – her home going) approaches, you might give thought and consideration toward some appropriate ways to remember this delightful little girl – you might help with the foundation and some of their upcoming projects, you might consider a donation to help spread awareness about the disease that took Elya’s life, and, of course, you can hug your own children and hold them a little tighter, as well – I know that I will be doing that this week.
Rev. Brad Kenney