Ramiro and Laura Fajardo had been married four years. He was 25 and worked at the Pepsi plant. She was 23 and worked at the phone company. They had two small children, a boy and a girl. They bought a small home and were planning to add a room. Ramiro had big dreams for himself and his family. A year ago the dreams ended on a lonely stretch of Interstate 15 near Barstow. Ramiro was killed by a drunk driver.
It was Dec. 29, 1984. We were driving to Las Vegas. My husband Ramiro’s brother Carlos, who was in the Navy, was down for his first Christmas in six years. My husband’s older brother Jose also went along with us.
It happened so fast I just remember darkness right at that moment and I remember something coming on top of me and the car was rolling down a slope.
I didn’t hear any voices, I just heard my own. I know I was yelling and I was just asking God to stop the car. When the car stopped, the light was on inside of the car. I turned around to look for my husband, and he was unconscious. I just started calling him because I wasn’t sure he was alive. Jose heard me and started calling him, too. There was a moment of relief that somebody else was there, that I wasn’t alone.
And then Ramiro took a breath and it looked like he was struggling, but I was just thankful that he was alive. I remember that I really couldn’t see Ramiro’s face because there was so much blood. I heard a noise in his throat as he was breathing and there was blood in his mouth. I was numb. I didn’t cry, I didn’t yell. It was a shock, and I tried to make myself look at what I was seeing, but I couldn’t.
The whole way to the hospital I just kept thinking of my life with Ramiro, everything we had, when we first met and just everything about him, just feeling inside how much I loved him.
When I went to see Ramiro they had shaved his head to monitor the pressure on the brain. And they had a respirator, a big tube that was breathing for him.
I stayed in the hospital for the days that Ramiro was there. I slept in the room in a chair by his bed, holding his hand and watching the monitor.
That night his blood pressure was dropping and he was letting go, he was dying, and they took us out of the room right away. The next day he was not responding to pain. I remember the second day I would tickle his foot and he would move it and I was really thrilled about that. But now there was nothing. They would shine a light in his eyes and the pupils would not constrict.
They said they had to have two tests, 24 hours from each other, in order to pronounce his brain dead, which they did. By the time the tests were finished, it was Jan. 2. I had already made the decision.
Before they were going to take him off the respirator they asked if I would donate any of his organs, and I agreed to have his kidneys donated. Maybe somebody who was a father like him could have a longer life. We left the hospital at 9:30 that evening and they were going to take him to the operating room and I said goodby. I didn’t want to know when he died.
In the highway patrolman’s report it said the driver of the car that hit us was 25 years old. My husband had also just turned 25 years old. Their birthdays were three days from each other. I remember feeling angry about that, thinking that he would not see his next birthday.
My biggest happiness was my marriage. I’m 23 years old, mother of two children, and a widow. It took me a long time just to be able to say that word.
It’s really ironic because, before, the only person I could cry with was Ramiro. With him being gone, I don’t have that person here to comfort me. Yet if he were here I wouldn’t need that comfort.