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Finding Hope After Loss

After tragedy struck, Veronica had to push past her fears to find a way to provide for her four sons


The year 2021 was a refiner’s fire for my mind, body, and soul. In May, my loving husband, Brandon, came home from work sick with COVID. He asked me to get him some medicine and, when I returned five minutes later, he was gone. He left this mortal world and me with our four young sons, and we never got to say goodbye.

A husband holds his wife around the waist while they stand on a beach
Veronica and her late husband, Brandon

My heart was torn to pieces. Our world had been turned upside down. How was I going to support these four boys? I felt scared, broken, shattered, and in unquenchable pain.

Despite this tragedy, blessings started to pour from every direction as so many people showered us with love and service. In July 2022, another blessing came in the form of BYU-Pathway Worldwide .

A new opportunity

I grew up without present parents in a poverty-stricken, war-torn area in El Salvador. When a friend told me about BYU-Pathway, I did not feel qualified to enroll because of my background and lack of resources and support.

The very next day, my late husband’s close friend told me he felt inspired to give me a laptop. My heart was touched with humility and gratitude. I knew that the Lord was sending this gift to me — He knew I was qualified to get a degree and was providing a way. Regardless of my fears, I enrolled in BYU-Pathway.

Angels along the journey

As a widow and single mom, everything fell on my plate to provide for my boys. My body was exhausted from working and completing assignments (like Excel!) in English (my second language). There were nights when I wanted to give up. I told myself,

I cannot quit now. I have overcome many trials, and this one is not going to be the one to take me down.

My gathering group all told me they would not let me quit. They encouraged me and told me they believed I could succeed. These people and my sons were my anchors — my angels on this journey.

A new beginning

A woman and man pose for a photo
Veronica and Richard

A year later, I met a wonderful widower, Richard, while working on a book about my childhood together. Our friendship grew into love, and we ended up getting married in July 2023. He was not only the miracle I was praying for, but he has been the balm that has healed my wounded heart. My life has changed from the refiners fire to receiving the sweet gift of love again.

I am working toward an online degree that will help me improve my writing skills for my book. There are so many blessings that have come to my life through BYU-Pathway and choosing the will of the Lord in pursuing my education. I have gained confidence and a greater capacity to learn than I ever had before. I have set a good example to my boys of persistence when things get hard.

When we choose to step into the unknown with faith, the Lord will give us opportunities we might have never had. Choosing to trust Him and do His will doesn’t necessarily mean it will be easy; but in the end, it will be rewarding and fulfilling. It was for me!

Contributors: Ellika Barlow and Yessica Cardona