Witty, smart, funny, caring, lovable
Fernando was shy, but also quick and funny; he could make people laugh the entire day. He was into rap music, blasting it from the shower loud enough for neighbors to hear the cussing in the songs, much to his mother’s dismay. He played flag football as a kid and liked the Raiders, though his mom was a Niner’s fan. His Uncle got him into boxing and he and his mom watched boxing when it was on television. Fernando was academically adept. He was always in the advanced classes and easily passed tests, without studying. He looked forward to getting his standardized test scores, as he would always do very well.
Fernando was precocious. On the way to daycare, he and his mom would have conversations where she found herself stuck on how to answer his probing questions. His mother remembers him performing in a play when he was 10. He was proud he could do it. Fernando’s grandfather would often pick up Fernando and his cousins from school and comment on Fernando’s humor, quick comebacks, and general wittiness during their ride home. Fernando was also very protective of his cousin Mya.
Fernando was applying for his first job at various places, including a pizza shop, and was not sure what career he would eventually pursue in life. His mom prodded him to be thinking about what his future might hold, but Fernando was more of a “live for the day” kind of person. Though Fernando had two older sisters from his dad’s side who visited, he was his mother’s only child.
Birthdays were celebrated with bouncy houses or at the bowling alley. His mother’s extended family often took vacations together. They would rent an RV and go to Pismo or ATV riding. His mom remembers a particular trip where her sister taught Fernando to play the card games war and speed like she and her sister played when they were kids. When they stopped at Pismo, Fernando tried chocolate-covered crickets. “I had a hard time watching it; it was gross,” Lisa said. Every Wednesday, his mother’s family got together for family dinner at her aunt’s home. All the relatives came. The tradition was disrupted by the pandemic and losing two uncles and Fernando. They hope to get that tradition back on track soon.
Lisa misses driving in the car with Fernando, their provocative conversations, and his trying to get a reaction from her. He told her every day that he loved her, even if he was angry about something.
The first time that Fernando used Xanax, in May 2019, he got in trouble. He went to juvenile hall and was on probation. He was sober for a year. The second time he took a Xanax was the day he got off probation. There was no second chance. It was a fatal dose of fentanyl.
Lisa now speaks to teens to tell them the dangers of fentanyl, and how one pill can kill you. Though she knows it is normal to be curious as a teenager, Lisa said, “Fentanyl changes everything. I don’t think parents know how easily drugs can be delivered to your home.” The solution to avoid drug poisoning is simple unless medication is prescribed by a doctor and dispensed from a pharmacy, take nothing. Lisa lamented, “I know my son knows he was loved. I just wish I could tell him one more time.”
Fernando’s mother, Lisa Marquez, provided the information for this narrative.
February 8, 2003-March 26, 2020, Age 17