When she least expects it, Egli Colón Stephens is greeted by her daughter Natalia’s bright smile, reassuring her their mother-daughter bond lives on.
Natalia was living her dream of becoming a model when she passed at the age of 24 from a rare cancer of the kidneys, renal medullary carcinoma, in May 2020. One of the last campaigns she shot was a Delta Airlines ad. The bright-eyed model is shown sitting on a plane and smiling as she gazes at her phone. The ad’s text reads: “This is what ‘see you soon’ looks like.” It’s a message Stephens takes to heart every time she encounters the photo.
“I know she is with me through the many signs,” Stephens told the “TODAY” show. Stephens and her husband were taking a last-minute trip from New York to Florida on March 29 when she was once again reunited with her only child.
“We just purchased our tickets and whatever we could get on sale. We were looking for the best price, not specifically Delta. To find the ad was hit or miss. It was not at every gate or terminal, but seeing it was breathtaking,” she recalled of her first flight since Natalia’s passing.
Stephens snapped photos of herself lovingly posing with her daughter, and shared them on social media. “This “SEE YOU SOON” means more now than ever. I can’t wait to hold her in my arms and never, ever let her go. Lord, please grant me endurance and strength🙏🏽,” she wrote.
Stephens and her husband returned home a month later, only to again be greeted by Natalia before boarding their plane.
Natalia was a survivor and fighter by all definitions. The stunning model overcame childhood cancer and learned how to walk again, always keeping her sights on achieving her goal of walking runways. By 2019, she had appeared on the cover of Vogue Knitting, had several appearances on “Project Runway” and participated in New York Fashion Week.
As for Stephens, with only a year gone by since the tragic loss, her grief remains palpable, but those serendipitous encounters with her daughter offer moments of comfort.
“All these signs and the message, ‘See you soon,’ it brings me peace. It makes me realize we think we are here for so long and in reality it is just a breath,” Stephens said. “I thought I had stopped being a mom [when I lost my only child], but I realized I am always going to be a mom; I am just mothering in another realm.”