On this day six years ago, a good friend of mine was murdered in his sleep by his father, who took the lives of both his sons as well as his own.
I woke up that summer morning around 11 am, feeling just the same as I did every morning before–ready for some Original Italian pizza from the pizzeria in our town center, a place familiar to every kid in my town. At that age, I spent my summer days with a fairly repetitive pattern: Wake up, shower, walk to my friend Jackie’s house, walk to town for pizza.
When we were getting a ride home from her parents early that afternoon, they mentioned talks of the police being around the corner from Town investigating a house. Nothing is really ever out of the ordinary that it would require police investigation in this town, and they knew a few families who lived back there so we took a route where we could pass and see whose house it was. My heart sank the to the deepest low when we passed by Kevin’s house, a unique glass and wood home right on the bend of the street.
Jackie’s parents drove home and found out from some people in town about the murder. I can’t remember feeling so lost and pained like I did that day. Suddenly it wasn’t summer, but a dark day of nightmare and tragedy.
Jackie and I walked to our elementary school and sat on the ground and cried for what felt like forever. A lot of things happened in the coming days that I will never forget–watching the news segment and hearing the broadcaster say Kevin was shot in the head, looking at everything through tears, my mom resulting to giving me a tranquilizer so that I could stop crying at night and get some sleep, seeing his mother at the funeral in a completely different light than I had ever seen anyone’s mom before, and worst of all, facing the fact that I would never see Kevin again.
Kevin was one of the most sincerely happy people I have been so lucky to know. He came into our History class two minutes late almost every day, and our teacher would make him tell a joke to the class to make up for it. He always disrupted the first few minutes by walking in that door, but he made every morning a little brighter just the same. Kevin had big dreams. He was a hard worker. A total goon. But my favorite thing about him was how original he was. He made his own jokes, he had his own tag lines and catch phrases, and out of 100 people in a crowd, I can guarantee that he would be the one to leave an impression lasting enough for you to remember his name, and only his.
The years to follow his death were hard. Awkward at times. Just plain painful some days. But mostly sad. I think about him every single day, and some nights I go to sleep crying and wishing he was here. I spent a lot of time wondering what he would be like and what he would be up to these days.
Losing a friend at such a young age in the horrific way that I did was an event in my life that I think helped shape me. Maybe I’ll write about that sometime. Many people don’t know the reasons behind why they are the way they are, or how they got to be, but luckily I do. And it really began that summer.
Somehow, throughout the six years and counting that have passed since then, there has been some good to come out of this tragedy. I’m not saying that I recognized the good right away, but somewhere in between moments, I saw them–every fall at the finish line of the Juvenile Diabetes Walk we do as a class, whenever I see someone in town wearing a t-shirt with his face on it, on random sunny days when I know he’s watching, and mostly when I see butterflies. On the day of his funeral, two butterflies were following us around and for some reason I just really felt that it was Kevin and his brother. To this day, I still believe that he is roaming free in some world where he can fly and bring smiles to faces of both strangers’ and loved ones.
That’s what Kevin Frazza taught me. The following quote is from Annie, but for me, it’s from Kevin. When we worked backstage in junior high together as part of the crew for the production “Annie”, he always told me:
“You’re never fully dressed without a smile.”
The above picture is an Instagram posted by my friend Paolo (@paolo_cruz).