Bonita means “beautiful” in Spanish and Portuguese. It is also a name often given out of love and delight for a baby girl. I don’t know exactly why Bonita Brocco Maglitto Doss’ parents called her by that name, but I do know that it was the perfect appellation for a youngster who would grow up to be lovely both inside and out.
Bonita attended Mt. Carmel High School when I was there. She was in the class behind me, so I did not know her very well. We did little more than exchange smiles in the hallway. She was always so pleasant with lovely blue eyes that twinkled with a welcoming kindness each time she saw me. She was a very pretty girl who seemed unaware of how lovely she actually was. I knew that she was a member of the Carmel Cadettes drill team, but little more than that. I simply instinctively understood the way we humans do that she was a sweet and caring person.
It would be almost fifty years before I saw Bonita again. I attended a memorial celebration of the life of one of my classmates and when i arrived Bonita motioned for me to share a spot at her table. You would have thought that we had been the best for friends by observing the warmth of her welcome. I knew who she as immediately because I recognized that smile of hers. We settled into a long and comfortable conversation about how much we loved, Cindy, the woman who had died. We shared stories about our children and the general tenor of our lives. We spent almost two hours chatting in the most comfortable way.
I could not help but notice how incredibly beautiful Bonita still was. In fact, she seemed to have grown even more striking as she had aged. Her beautiful eyes were like windows to her soul and through them I saw her compassion and knew that I liked her so very much. When she turned her head just right it felt as though I was conversing with Elizabeth Taylor and I would almost gulp at the realization that Bonita was still so humble about her appearance. What seemed to matter most to her was making people fell comfortable and important. She certainly did that for me.
I did not get to see Bonita in person again after that meeting, but we became friends on Facebook. I enjoyed the optimism of her uplifting posts. I saw that she was always positive and supportive of everyone, even when their views differed from hers. It also became apparent that many many people loved her very dearly, no doubt because of her innate goodness and loving nature. I was happy to be among those who had earned a place among her friends.
Bonita struggled with health issues in her final days, but she never seemed to lose her positivity even when she had to have one of her legs amputated. She had a fighting spirit that showed in the determination etched on her face. She was not willing to give in to sadness or self pity. Instead she dressed up in her finery and went to parties with her dearest friends and family sitting tall and bravely in her wheelchair. She was determined to be a shining light for the world to the very end and she accomplished that with aplomb.
Bonita was quite special. She must have been so even when she was born. Her parents saw her beauty and throughout her lifetime the rest of us would see it as well. Her face was lit up by her extraordinary soul. She gave of herself with all of her heart and that openness will be missed by everyone who knew her. The world has suffered a great loss with her passing.
Bonita’s closest friends from high school are no doubt devastated by her death. It’s not too often that any of us are lucky enough to have an encounter with someone as exceptional as she was. I will always remember our silent passings in the hallways of our school. Every single time our paths crossed felt her genuineness. I knew that I was quite fortunate when fate put us together once again when we were grown and had experienced life in the fullness of trials and tribulations.
Bonita is with God and the angels now. Those of us left behind smile at the thought that she is reunited with her loved ones and that all of her pain and suffering is gone. We hope that one day we will see her again in her heavenly home. Until then we will have memories of a woman who seemed to always know exactly how to make the people around her feel happy and safe and loved, a woman who lived up to her name in every way.
May God comfort Bonita Brocco Maglitto Doss’ family and her many many friends. Hers was a beautiful heart in our lives.