Thursday, January 20, 2011

For Sergio, Jan. 25, 1972 - Jan. 20, 1991

On January 29, my family will celebrate my father’s 77th birthday at my brother’s new house in Connecticut. As tradition holds, we celebrate the other January birthdays in our family at the same gathering. That includes my sister and her husband and my wife.

There is another significant January birthday for me. My best friend, Sergio, would have turned 39 on January 25. He was murdered 20 years ago today, January 20, 1991. He fell victim to a “random act of violence,” a crime that occurred all too often in New York City at the time. He was five days away from celebrating his 19th birthday. It was Championship Sunday, when the last four teams in the NFL playoffs squared off to see who would face each other in the Super Bowl.

Sergio was a big New York Giants fan and they were set to face the 2-time defending world champion San Francisco 49ers in the NFC title game. Back then the NFL still played their Championship games at 1 pm and 4 pm, rather than 3:30 pm and 6:30 pm as they do now. The Giants had the late game, so Sergio took his younger brother out side to throw a football around as they waited. Sergio never got to see the big game.

The call from Sergio’s sister was the worst call I had ever received in my life. Weeping, she said he had been shot and didn’t know if he was going to make it. I frantically gathered up our friends and drove to his house. Police had cordoned off the house and there was a large blood stain on the concrete in front of the front gate. We rushed to the hospital, but it was too late. Sergio was already dead.

This tragedy forever altered my life. At the time I was in college studying architecture and madly in love with my high school sweetheart. Fate took me away from both. I dropped out of college and joined the US Army for the GI Bill. My sweetheart—who later became my fiancĂ©e—dumped me for another man and when I got out of the army, I pursued a career in law rather than architecture. I met my wife in college and we have an amazing five-year-old son. None of that happens if not for the events of January 20, 1991. That is the irony of life.

There has been an empty place in my heart over the last 20 years. I wonder what kind of man Sergio would have become. How his children would have grown up with mine. What memories we would share. Luckily, I have our other friends who are all like brothers to me. We’ve shared life and death together. We live each day thankful for each other and lamenting the loss of our dearest friend.

1 comment:

  1. Steve, this is heartbreaking, hopeful and beautiful.

    x0

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