The first thing that comes to my mind and what I remember the most when I think about Sr. Clare is her contagious and uncontainable joy, as well as her jokes and songs that always made us laugh. She was like that ever since she was a candidate. When she started learning Spanish she would repeat words incorrectly, although she knew how to pronounce them well, just because it was funny and would make us laugh.
When she was a novice, she spent some time working in our print shop. I taught her how to use the printing machine and the industrial paper cutter. She learned quickly and immediately put what she learned into practice. We were somewhat afraid that she might cut herself when she would cut the paper, because she did everything so fast and self-confidently. As I said before, she turned everything into a joke. I remember that we used to sing a lot as we worked, and she would always harmonize, singing a second, third, or fourth voice…
I spent one year with her in the community of Belmonte. We prepared the Way of the Cross together that we were going to use with the youth of our parish. We used images from the movie The Passion, and she and I sang several songs. The song that we liked the most and that we repeated several times was a hymn which says, “My Christ, you do not have the sullen gaze of death…”
Another story is from when we were fixing up our smaller house [in Zurita, Cantabria] one summer. Sr. Clare stepped in a hole and sprained her ankle. Her foot must have really been hurting her, but she didn’t show it in the least. Another sister and I took her to the emergency room. As soon as we got there, the doctors asked what had happened. Sr. Clare in a very funny way told them that she sprained her ankle. She started joking with the nurses and the people that were in the emergency room. Everybody cracked up thinking about Sr. Clare’s sprained ankle. This obviously implied a lot of self-denial on her part in order to make others happy.
Sr. Clare came with us when we were going to open our community in Macael (Almería, Spain). I guess it was because she would soon be leaving for Ecuador and it was an opportunity for her to see the new community before she left. I remember her joking around and making us laugh during the trip. The van was full of stuff that kept falling on top of us. She had a lot of games to make the trip pass by faster. One of them was a song guessing game: she would make a sound from a song and we had to guess which song it was. If you couldn’t guess, she would continue making sounds until you could guess it.
On the way there, she began to have a terrible headache because she suffered from migraines. I didn’t hear one word of complaint. I could just see her with her eyes closed or her head lowered, but she didn’t complain at all. When we arrived at Macael, her head was still hurting her, but you couldn’t tell because she acted just like any other sister. It got to the point that we had to ask a woman who lives near the church if Sr. Clare could stay at her house [instead of entering the church] because she couldn’t stand the pain anymore. I don’t know if her head hurt her the next day or not, because she was her normal self, joking and singing. That was the last time I was with her.
The last thing that I would like to mention is an experience I had the same day of the earthquake. It was about 4:30 p.m. (Spanish time) on April 16, 2016. The earthquake had not taken place yet. We were having a get-together with girls in Lumezzane where I am currently living. It was just beginning and we were playing with the girls while we waited for the others to arrive. I suddenly had a strong impulse to think about Sr. Clare. The idea that came very clearly to my mind was to think about what Sr. Clare would do if she were there playing with the girls. I was surprised by that thought and how strongly it had come to my mind, because we had not mentioned Sr. Clare before that. It surprised me, although praying for her didn’t come to my mind. I just thought that I should learn from her, learn how she would have acted in that situation.
What had happened that afternoon came to my mind hours later, when the earthquake took place and I found out that it was precisely Sr. Clare who had not been rescued and that she had probably died. I thought that the Lord wanted her to be a model and an example for me in my apostolate.
Another curious experience occurred during the night of the 17th when they still had not found her and the girls. All of the sisters were praying the rosary in the chapel. We had been awake nearly twenty-four hours, and praying; it was inevitable for certain funny things to happen due to our sleepiness. It made me laugh and I had to hold myself back so as not to, because it was not a funny moment at all. The memory of Sr. Clare and her laugh came to my mind very vividly. It seemed that in some way she was interceding for us from Heaven. Imagining her happy and laughing alleviated some of the suffering. I felt that she was near us and interceding for us, and not long afterwards, we received the news of her death.
For me, having our sisters in Heaven has made Heaven itself seem so much closer now. I feel them very close and I know that they are interceding for us.