Faces of TAPS is a digital content series where, in their own words, survivors both celebrate the lives of their military loved ones and reflect on their personal grief journey.
Ideliz Mora-Cruz is the surviving sister of Army SGT Geraldo Andre Mora Cruz, who died by suicide on March 15, 2015. Ideliz currently works as an Associate with the TAPS Survivor Care Team where she provides outreach and care to her fellow military survivors, especially those who, like her, speak Spanish. Whether running with Team TAPS, joining other surviving women at TAPS Women's Empowerment events, or just being a friendly voice on the other end of a phone call, Ideliz brings hope and compassion to all she does, and we are honored to share her story and celebrate her brother Andre's life through Faces of TAPS.
TAPS: What are three things you want people to know about your brother, Andre?
Ideliz Mora-Cruz: I want people to know that my brother, Andre, was a happy person. He loved to play video games, and he was always smiling. He was always in a good mood.
He loved the Army, and he loved to work. He [specialized] in computers and would always try to help someone if they needed to fix their computer. He’d do anything for anyone without asking anything in return. He just wanted to help people.
Finally, he loved his family very much. He loved his sons, his daughter, our mom, me, and our sister. He was all about family all the time.
What Ideliz discovered on her grief journey
TAPS: What gives you hope?
Ideliz Mora-Cruz: What gives me hope? Life gives me hope. My family gives me hope. My friends give me hope. Trying to enjoy my life, the life that my loved one doesn’t have any more, gives me hope every day to do my best and live the best that I can for him.
"I have learned that grief can not be done alone. Building a support system has helped me through my grief all these years. There are good days, there are bad days, and it moves differently. Having a support system helps when you go through the difficult days."
TAPS: What have you learned throughout your grief journey?
Ideliz Mora-Cruz: What I have learned throughout my grief is that grief can not be done alone. Building a support system has helped me through my grief all these years. It is not simple. It is not a straight line. There are good days, there are bad days, and it moves differently. Having a support system helps when you go through the difficult days.
TAPS: What surprised you the most about grief?
Ideliz Mora-Cruz: What has surprised me about grief is that, like with most people, it’s something that is not going to be gone soon, it’s not going to be short, but it is something that even after seven years is still there, and I’m just learning to live with it.
TAPS: What is the importance of carrying on his legacy?
Ideliz Mora-Cruz: Carrying on Andre’s legacy is important because I don’t want his memories to die. I want him to live and he will live through me. I will carry on his legacy in whatever I do in my life, whether it’s running, walking, carrying his name, saying his name, carrying his picture, doing things that I would have never done for myself, but I am willing to do for him.
Andre had said that he hated jumping out of helicopters, so one of the things I want to do for him is jump out of an airplane. I don’t know how that is going to go, but it’s something I want to do for him. I also started walking - I was doing different 5ks in his name in the first few years of my grief. Then, I decided out of nowhere to do half marathons. I do not like running, but for him, I will run, I will crawl to that finish line. I have completed the Army Ten-Miler and three half marathons in his name.
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Ideliz Mora-Cruz is the surviving sister of U.S. Army SGT Geraldo Andre Mora Cruz
Photos courtesy of Ideliz Mora-Cruz