CBN Israel Comforts Bereaved Families During War

By Nicole Jansezian

This week, Israel marked Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism for 24 somber hours right before switching gears into Independence Day the following day.

Normally, the transition from solemn ceremonies dedicated to the fallen into the celebration of the birth of the Jewish state is welcomed with fireworks, a national air show, and picnics around the entire country. 

But as Israel celebrated its 76th year, festivities were muted as the national mourning was still raw from October 7. Some 1,200 people were killed on that day and another 250 taken hostage. Now, 132 hostages remain in captivity in Gaza and more than 600 Israeli soldiers have been killed as a war still rages with no end in sight.

One of these soldiers was Cedrick Garin, killed in action on January 22, 2024, and the only son of Imelda Garin.

Imelda came to Israel from the Philippines on a visa for foreign workers in 1995. Cedrick was born in 2000 and Imelda, raised him alone after the boy’s father returned to the Philippines. 

Imelda worked several jobs to provide for her son and afford their small apartment. When Cedrick entered high school, he tried to quit school so he could also work and supplement his mother’s meager income. But Imelda convinced him to go back and made sure he graduated despite his tumultuous teen years.

When Cedrick was called up for army service at age 18, he insisted on joining a combat unit against his mother’s objections.

“He worked hard to become a fighter. I hoped that this would help him to mature because before it was a little bit hard for me,” Imelda told CBN Israel. “He told me, ‘Ima (mom), one day you will be proud of me.’ I said, “What do you mean, I will be proud of you when you finish the army?’ He said, “No, you will be proud of me, Ima. Not like before.’”

Cedrick distinguished himself as a solider and then tried out for a commanders course. He finished in the top three but didn’t expect to be chosen as the top because he was the only Filipino.

“Then one day he called me all happy and shouting, ‘Ima! I’m the one they chose based on excellence to become a commander,’” Imelda recalled.

When October 7 transpired, Cedrick knew he was being called up as a reservist to fight in Gaza and prepared both his mother and his wife Daniella for his absence. 

Imelda resisted the thought. 

“I start crying. I said, ‘No, don’t go.’” Imelda recalled Cedrick’s response: “‘No, Ima. I will do my job. This is the right time to fight for this country. I love this country. And now so many people died, so I must go.’”

One weekend in January, Cedrick came home for a visit. Normally when he said goodbye after his time off, he told him mom he would see her again soon. This time he didn’t, but Imelda didn’t notice at the time.

A few weeks later she awoke to phone call. Daniella was on the line crying and asked Imelda to come outside. As Imelda stepped outside in pajamas and slippers, she saw many people including soldiers. 

“Then I felt that something happened to Cedrick. Maybe he’s in the hospital or something else, but I didn’t think that he was gone,” she said. “When I saw the soldiers, I opened the gate. The soldier came to me, and he just started to tell me something. I said, ‘Stop, my son is alive. Maybe it’s not him. Maybe you didn’t recognize him and it’s not him.’” 

“I was there for an hour crying. I couldn’t accept this,” she said.

CBN Israel’s Family Department reached out to Imelda and Daniella after the news of Cedrick’s death made national headlines. The organization is helping Imelda with her debt, the expenses of a funeral and connected her with trauma counsellors as she navigates this new season.

“He’s the only one to do everything for me because my Hebrew is weak,” Imelda said of Cedrick. “He’s my mouth, he’s like my feet, because everything that I need, he’s the one to do it for me.”

Imelda said the hardest thing is not seeing her son.

“It’s been nearly four months, and I really miss him,” she said. “I know there is a purpose of the Almighty Father. We don’t know what’s the purpose, but later we will see the answer.”

Nicole Jansezian is the media coordinator for CBN Israel. A long-time journalist, Nicole was previously the news editor of All Israel News and All Arab News and a journalist at The Associated Press. On her YouTube channel, Nicole gives a platform to the minority communities in Jerusalem and highlights stories of fascinating people in this intense city. Born and raised in Queens, N.Y., she lives in Jerusalem with her husband, Tony, and their three children.

Post a comment