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Roberto! He heard Ana's helpless cry in his dream, felt it in his heart. But he couldn't see her -- the darkness between them so complete it was suffocating.

Family Photo Holding a nephew at her sister's home in La Paz, Mexico at age 17. The youngest of eight children, once dreamed of a husband, kids and a home of their own.


He awoke with a jerk on a sofa in the emergency ward of Anaheim Memorial Medical Center.

His 2-year-old son, Tito, was fused to his chest, one little arm clutching his neck. Gently, he pried him loose and laid him between his sleeping brothers. Fidel, 8, and Daniel, 6, didn't stir. Roberto stole down the hall.

A lone woman occupied the nursing station. She glanced up, but he didn't know how to utter the words that clogged his throat in a language she could understand.

Then he spotted a woman striding by, a mop in her hand. It was the hospital housekeeper who greeted him every day in Spanish. He sprinted after her. The words tumbled out.

"Tell them, please. Tell them to save my wife. Tell them don't give up on her. I must take her home. Please. Tell them."

He made his way to the intensive-care isolation room where Ana lay. He struggled into the gown, mask and gloves the doctors insisted he wear and crossed to her side.

The oxygen tube in her mouth looked too huge for her delicate lips. Her face was pale against the inky darkness of her long hair. Her eyes were closed. She was so cold. So lifeless.

He tugged his hospital mask free, reached for her unbandaged hand and raised it to his cheek so she could feel the warmth of his tears.

"Ana. Hold on. I'm going to take you home, I promise you. The children are waiting. The doctors, they are trying. You have to hold on, Ana, so I can bring you home. Ana ... Ana."

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