Frankie Gomez, Jr.

In Columns, Just My Bellybutton, Opinion by Nathasha Alvarez

In Loving Memory of
Francisco J. ‘Frankie’ Gomez, Jr.
September 30, 1972 – July 17, 2003

God saw you were getting tired,
and a cure was not to be.
So he put his arms around you
and whispered “come to ME”.
With tearful eyes we watched you,
and saw you pass away.
Although we loved you dearly,
we could not make you stay.
A golden heart stopped beating,
hard working hands at rest.
God broke our hearts to prove to us,
He only takes the best.

Author Unknown

On July 17, 2003 I recieved the saddest phone call of my life. My cousin’s father called to inform me that Frankie passed away. I should have been stronger. I should have said something, anything at all. Instead, I dropped my dinner on the floor and called out for my mom. She later told me that from the way I said “mom” she knew something was wrong. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t speak. I could only hand her the phone.

Frankie was gone. Why? Why him? We had only reunited four years ago after a twenty year absence since my move from New York to Florida. Why him? Please God! Tell me why him! Go pick an axe murderer or serial killer! But please not Frankie.

Who will send me instant messages with soothing words of comfort and humor? Who will call me “Princess” when I want things to go my way? Who will find the silliness in my behavior without harsh criticism? Don’t take my Frankie. Please!

Frankie was more than my cousin. In fact, he was the son of my mother’s cousin. Whatever type of relation that made him to me doesn’t matter, never mattered. The only fact that mattered was that I loved Frankie. All my life I grew up watching the Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon on Labor Day with Jerry Lewis. Story after story about camps and scientific research and wheelchairs for the victims of this ugly and deadly disease. Every year I would ask my mother, how do you think Frankie is doing? Same reply, every year from my mom, “I don’t know. Call him and find out.” Years went by and I never called him. I never thought he would remember me. I was 9 and he was barely 7 years old when I left.

Four years ago, I made plans to see him after a business convention in Pennsylvania. It would not be a lie if I told you that it seemed as if I had found my long lost friend. His disease was further advanced than what I had imagined. He could only move his finger. His smile was so cute and his eyes were bright and animated. I would tease him and he would roll his eyes. His sense of humor was dry, witty and sarcastic. I loved our time together even though it was so brief. I left the next day. However, the laughter and jokes lasted long after my departure.

So why him? I am sure there are other people who are mean and nasty to everyone that crosses their path. Why not them? Three days and nights I cried uncontrollably. I was infuriated. He never did anything wrong. He couldn’t do anything wrong. It wasn’t fair.

We continued to communicate through emails, telephone and most importantly instant messenger. I am eternally grateful for the internet. This was Frankie’s world. When he spoke to me, the breathing equipment in his room was no longer visible to me. I saw past the limitations placed upon his body. Our body is our vessel. We only need it to survive on this earth. Our body is not who we are inside. Frankie knew his vessel was limiting him from exploring the world. His mind was as deep as the ocean. An extremely intelligent young man. He was only 30 years old.

Everyone continues to tell me how he is in a better place. He is no longer in pain. He is happy. Blah blah blah! But what about me? What about his family? What about the people who cared about him and miss him? Of course, I know he is no longer in pain and in a better place. It doesn’t help take away my pain!

I went to the viewing. I couldn’t get too close. Ple ase let this be

a bad dream. He didn’t have time to play the C.S.I. computer game that I had recently given him. We had finally embarked on the online magazine. He was my little voice of logic and reasoning. This viewing is not happening. This must be a nightmare. I spoke at his service. What could I say without exposing his secrets? This was good-bye. But only good bye to the body lying in the casket. It was not my final farewell to him. He was simply moving out of his vessel.

I will miss him. I still cry when I think of Frankie. He was my cousin, he was my friend and he was my prince.