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William Edilzer Cabrera Lozano

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William Edilzer Cabrera Lozano

One of my oldest friends told me a terrible story yesterday.

Danny is a lawyer who lives in Rockville, Maryland. He sent his kids to elementary school there, just five miles down the road from where I went to kindergarten and first grade in Gaithersburg in the mid-1960s. I didn’t speak a word of English when I started, and my parents’ families were political and economic refugees respectively — for instance I don’t believe my father’s family were ever legal residents of Mexico, strictly speaking (My parents came to the US from Mexico a few months before I was born). So his story had a personal resonance for me.

Danny’s family’s all-time favorite teacher teaches in the fifth grade at Farmland Elementary. On Monday, a little boy named William Edilzer Cabrera Lozano died in her classroom. He died in front of all his classmates, as paramedics tried to save his life. (The children were told they had to “shelter in place” as this was happening) William — I wonder if his mother called him Guillermo at home but told him he was William in school now? — had been feeling ill for a month, but she was afraid to take him to the hospital:

“That’s my son William… I love him so much. I don’t know how to live without him,” his mother, Santos Mercedes Cabrera Lozano, said. “I’m alone, I’m a single mother.”

According to Cabrera Lozano, William took the bus to Farmland Elementary in Rockville, Maryland, on Monday morning like he did every day. But shortly after arriving to class, William felt sick. 

He was looked at by the school nurse, who immediately called 911. Emergency personnel treated William at the scene for some time before taking him to a hospital, Montgomery County Public Schools said. 

His mother said school officials told her: “‘You should come see William because he’s sick… They already took him to the hospital.’”

“When I asked them what happened, they said he was vomiting blood and that he fainted,” she said. 

Cabrera Lozano said her son had been complaining of pain in his chest and throat for nearly a month. 

“He would say to me, ‘Mami, it hurts here.’ I don’t know if it was his heart. ‘It hurts here,’ he’d say to me. But since he wasn’t born here, I didn’t have money to take him to the hospital, since people say it costs so much here,” she said.  . .

The Cabrera Lozano family currently lives in a county shelter. They want to send William’s remains to Guatemala, where he was born, and have opened a GoFundMe page to raise funds.

In Montgomery County, there are affordable health resources available to families regardless of their immigration status. 

When I first read this story yesterday I was shaking with rage. Now I feel the kind of deep sadness you feel in the face of something for which there really aren’t any good words.

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