Family, friends bid farewell to Suisun girl at candlelight vigil
SUISUN CITY — As the sun set Sunday, about 30 friends and family members gathered at the home of Isabel Perez to bid farewell to the 15-year-old.
Dressed in Warriors gear – Perez’s favorite team – and holding candles, the home was surrounded with love from those who knew her.
She was diagnosed at 4 years old with a rare but serious condition known as myasthenia gravis. Her mother, Lina Ruelas-Selby, brought Isabel to the emergency room several times after the young girl would choke on air, turn blue and pass out. After years of struggles, both with the disease and doctors, the disease was in remission.
Myasthenia gravis is a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease characterized by varying degrees of weakness of the skeletal (voluntary) muscles of the body. The name myasthenia gravis, which is Latin and Greek in origin, literally means “grave muscle weakness,” according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes.
“I just want people to know about this disease,” Ruelas-Selby said. “It’s so rare and no one knows about it.”
They would go days and months without any attack.
“We never knew when it was going to happen,” she said.
Ruelas-Selby gave up her job to be with her daughter full time. The lack of income has put a considerable strain on the family. She and her husband, who works at Walmart, have started a GoFundMe account to help pay for the funeral expenses.
“The candlelight vigil is for her classmates,” she said. “They are really struggling with this.”
Crystal Middle School in Suisun City has brought in counselors to help students deal with the grief. For many this is their first experience with a death of a friend.
“Teachers put fliers up and announcements went out over the intercom,” said Ariana Davis, 13, a classmate of Perez. “I was, like, ‘No, she can’t be dead.’ ”