Caela’s Story

Caela came into the world on Good Friday, April 13th, slipping into the arms of her father a few inches from the bathroom floor in our house.  No one suspected she would come so quickly that morning, and she surprised everyone with her beautiful and unforgettable entrance into our family. As it turns out, she has been full of surprises, beauty, and unforgettable memories ever since her birth.  In her first few weeks of life, we discovered that Caela would be different than her brother and sister, Daniel and Joycelin, that she hid complicated medical mysteries in her little body that would continually challenge us and teach us to appreciate so many of the great things about her and about life in our family.  

At three months of age, Caela began physical and speech therapy, and her improvement began in baby-sized leaps and bounds.  Her voice emerged, communicating to us her likes, dislikes, and a range of infant emotions.  Her arms and legs took on new life, working to help her play and wiggle across impressive distances.  Her large, expressive eyes, framed by very long, thick eyelashes, began to react to movement and conversations taking place around her, and to this day, Caela’s eyes tell so much of what she is unable to verbalize.   Best of all, as she gained strength, her incredible smile surfaced, at first only occasionally, then consistently responding to things that made her happy.  From day one, her big brown eyes and her engaging smile drew crowds, everyone anxious to see this baby who could light up a room with one look.     During her first year, much of which was spent in the hospital helping her gain weight and trying to unravel the secrets of her body’s complex systems, she taught us much about patience, endurance, gratitude, faith, and love.  

Over the next two years, Caela made new strides and continued to often surpass our expectations, but her medical picture became only more complicated.  There were many trying times, as our family was physically separated for long periods and Caela’s condition was often precarious.  But it was also a time of many blessings because of our family and friends who came out in force to support us in every way imaginable.  In spite of the frustrations, these years were marked with cherished memories. In June, 2003, at the encouragement of Caela's Aunt Shelly, our family took our first annual camping trip in the Poconos, a tradition which has become very important to us.  In September, the first annual Caela Farmer FunD Fest took place, the first time all of Caela's fans came together to celebrate her and make a difference in our family’s life.  Thanks to the overwhelming generosity of spirit we experienced   Then a long-awaited answer came...on March 26, 2004, Dr. Malatack, Caela’s tirelessly dedicated physician, called us with life-altering news - he had diagnosed her with Rett Syndrome.   This news filled us with new purpose and made us part of the extraordinary community of families also living with this disease.

Caela’s last months were spent primarily at her “second home,” the A.I. Dupont Hospital for Children, as her struggle for a healthy life intensified.  She continued to be surrounded by the love and kindness of her doctors, nurses, and therapists, who cared for her diligently above and beyond the call of duty.  A few weeks ago, in a 14-day break from the hospital, our family again went camping, Caela’s growing amount of medical equipment in tow.  It would be our last trip together.   Caela returned to the hospital upon our return and last week, her little body became too tired to go on.  She held on for four more days after suffering a catastrophic cardiac arrest and then, surrounded by the love of so many who had been touched by her life and example of valor, Caela left this earth just as she had come, cradled in the arms of her dear daddy.

Our hope for Caela is that she knows our love for her knows no bounds, not even those of time and space.  We hope she knows that she is our hero, and that our lives will forever be changed by this charge we’ve been given to honor her memory.  We hope she knows that she is our teacher, that her courage, patience, and refusal to give up have taught all of us invaluable lessons that would have otherwise taken us a lifetime to learn.  We hope she knows that it was our privilege to parent her, to care for her, to be the recipient of her deep and pure love.  Goodbye and thank you, baby girl, we know you are safe and resting in your Father’s arms… 

Caela Isabel Farmer passed on July 12, 2004.  She is the beloved daughter of Tatum J. and Mari-Carmen Riera-Farmer and the loving sister of Daniel J. Farmer and Joycelin M. Farmer. The precious granddaughter of Jose and Luz Del Carmen Riera of Jackson, NJ and the late Linda Joyce Farmer. Cherished niece of Michele Farmer, Jose-Luis and Kate Riera, Jose-Justo and Karla Riera, and Maria-Jose Riera and Ernesto Salvador.   She is a friend and inspiration to countless others.