Band of Outsiders

This family is different

Camille listens, never fully still, nodding.

"Well my suggestion is that you might want to spend time with her before we leave tomorrow night."

A pause.

The annual Geraldi Christmas party in Kendall
Jacqueline Carini
The annual Geraldi Christmas party in Kendall
Exterior of one of the group homes in Homestead
Jacqueline Carini
Exterior of one of the group homes in Homestead
The annual Geraldi Christmas party in Kendall
Jacqueline Carini
The annual Geraldi Christmas party in Kendall

"You are my hero. It is not in her best interest to prolong her life. There would be no quality, and there would be no quantity. Come in the morning. Stay all day; I don't care. Tomorrow will probably be the last time you see her. She has already started having seizures."

Pause.

"I won't be leaving her side."


The following day, Saturday, Arainia's biological mother bade goodbye to her daughter for the last time. That night Camille returned to North Carolina with the baby. Eventually she inserted a nose tube to keep the baby hydrated, but Arainia's system failed to digest the formula. She began to fade quickly.

In a last-minute decision, Camille sent the infant back to Miami. From Monday night to Wednesday morning, Renae — the formerly reluctant participant, the one who had once felt alienated by her mother and her family — kept vigil with Arainia as Camille had once done with an infant in a hospital room on the Fourth of July many years before.

Three months prior, Renae had picked up Arainia at the hospital. Now she cared for the girl in her final days. Early Wednesday morning, as she lay in bed with the baby, Arainia suddenly cried out. Renae cradled her. "I think she literally wanted me to hold her as she went," she said. On that day in March, at 5:11 a.m., Arainia took her last breath in Renae's arms.

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