As my national boards come to a near the stress and pressure has taken over my life. I’ve become consumed in my studies for the past few months and it wasn’t until something tragic happened that made these board exams seem absolutely trivial. The death of an angel.
This week the community has lost an incredible being, Rafael Crespo. I first met him when I was just 10 years old. He was the first veterinarian technician my mom hired at her hospital. Immediately everyone fell in love with Ralf. As a child I was absolutely (and secretly) smitten with him but as I grew older I started to admire him for the incredible man he was. The most humble person I’ve ever met. Utterly unimpressed with the material aspects of life. His love for animals, wildlife, and the environment was unprecedented. He had a burning sense of responsibility to do right by them. He spent his life as a biologist, doing dangerous field work with crocodiles and alligators in the everglades in the name of research and conservation.
My mom would always joke with Ralf and say “You better not get serious with anyone, you’re marrying my daughter one day”. I’m sure every mom who met Ralf had the same wishes! He was a class act. When my mom was first diagnosed he stopped by the house to deliver her flowers. And when I went away to college he would message me just to check up and make sure all was well- that’s just the type of guy he was, always.
And so when the community lost him unexpectedly, the world shattered to everyone who knew him, even if they knew him just for a moment. Because he was the epitome of the person who you wanted by your side, so full of laughter and warmth it became contagious. This was confirmed at his memorial service as hundreds of people gathered to celebrate his life. The impact he made on his community was tremendous.
His best friend spoke the most beautiful words: “An angel is not given to just anyone”, motioning to Ralf’s parents. And he is absolutely right.
In the name of Ralf his family has set up a conservation fund at the UF/IFAS Fort Lauderdale Research and Conservation Center. It is the family’s hope that this fund will become an endowment to provide support for the education of wildlife biologists and students studying natural resources at UF.
If in some way Ralf has left an impact on your heart, whether it was through caring for your pet when he was a vet tech or through his contagious laughter and warmth, please consider donating in his name. No amount is too small.
Sometimes angels grace us here on Earth. And when they leave us to return back to the source the loss is devastating because no matter how much time we spend with an angel, it never seems like quite enough. May the community find peace in knowing he is looking down on us. May we all be healed from within and blessed from above during this emotional time.
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