Caroline Aigle would have turned 33 on September 12. The first female fighter pilot of the French military and future astronaut died of cancer on August 21. The country is still mourning her death and continues to be moved by her sacrifice: she was five months pregnant when she learned she had cancer and she chose to postpone her treatment so her baby could be born.
In mid-July Caroline received the devastating news. Rather than despairing, she faced the adversity and ignored doctors who advised her to have an abortion.
Together with her husband Christophe Deketelaere, who is also a pilot, she decided to give this new member of her family a chance to live. Her second son was born three and a half months premature at the beginning of August and doctors say he is progressing well.
In an interview Christophe said, “She could not stop the life she had carried for five months. She told me: ‘He has the right to have the same chances I had’.” Her husband said that her pregnancy was “her final battle and she won.” Before dying, she was able to see her son several times and hold him in her arms. “She was heroic to the end,” he said.
Caroline Aigle (which means “eagle”) was born in Montauban in 1974. At the age of 14 she entered the military school of Saint-Cyr. In May of 1999 she became a fighter pilot and flew a Mirage 2000-5.
Her funeral was celebrated by Father Pierre Demoures, a former fighter pilot himself. In his homily, he remembered Caroline as someone who led people to Christ with “her qualities, kindness, willingness, passion,” and he praised her for choosing to give life to her son, for whom she “postponed a treatment that was urgent.”
Father Demoures recalled that when Carolina and Christophe sought him out for marriage preparation, they asked him for a book that spoke not about the love of one for the other, “but rather about the love that opens us to love others.”
“The great lesson that Carolina gives us is the urgency to love. Not the urgency to fear, but the vital urgency to know that only love gives life. Man is made for life. This urgency can make love stronger and give life to a treasure amidst the most tragic events,” Father Demoures said.