This is Sergio’s story as told by Katie….
Coming up on the fourth year anniversary of my best friend’s death, I look back on what his life and death meant to me. I was twenty years old and in the middle of college. Moving from Salinas to Fresno, not a lot of kids could relate but he did. Living in a household of sisters, I bonded to him like no one else, as if he were my brother.
I’ll never forget the night he died. Just the night before he called to ask if I wanted to go to the movies but I had other plans with my girlfriend at the time. We ended that phone call thinking we’d see each other soon. We could always find fun things to do. He was kind of a wild guy who always knew how to find a good time, but without fail, he would come home every night.
“Living in a household of sisters, I bonded to him like no one else, as if he were my brother.”
The one night he didn’t come home I found out before anyone in his family. His parents were just getting back from vacation when I got a call from a mutual friend of ours. He saw my best friend get in a fatal car accident but he wasn’t sure who got hurt. Without knowing exactly what was going on, I called his family to let them know something had happened. I knew deep down it wasn’t good when no one could reach him. I waited with his brother, who felt like my own brother as well, until their parents got home. And when they did, we waited. We waited and waited until we finally found out what we were dreading the most.
I never thought my best friend would die so young. I never thought I’d have to be the one to tell his whole family. I’ll never forget the scream of pure agony that escaped from his little brother when he found out. There was the initial shock of knowing we’d never see him again followed by the pain of fully accepting that cold fact. I could easily call this pain physically overwhelming and all of this happened three days before the start of a new school semester.
“I was taught not to cry, to show emotion, or give any sign of weakness even during hard times—it was part of my culture.”
For a while I tried to ignore the pain of losing my best friend. I was taught not to cry, to show emotion, or give any sign of weakness even during hard times—it was part of my culture. I threw myself into school, went to parties, and did anything I could to distract myself, but after a couple months of this I was starting to take it out on the wrong people. My girlfriend supported me through all of it but all I could give back was anger and frustration. I know now that I was being a jerk because I didn’t know of any other way to handle it.
Him passing away was a turning point in my life. I was depressed, no doubt, but it also gave me the motivation to work hard, to go through school with new focus, and I even got straight A’s from then on. If he was alive, I think I’d be in a similar place but his death gave my life new meaning, new ambition. We were both big dreamers and it was so hard losing him but it also evolved to be one of the most positive changes in my life. I ended up stronger because of it and am more capable of handling stress now. When something like that happens so unexpectedly, it’s difficult to grasp at first what’s been done. At first I didn’t do anything because I couldn’t handle it and my relationships suffered. But I’m stronger now and have a new outlook on life. Everything that happened has led me to who I am today.