My Dad, who I thought was Superman, told me I could invite anyone I wanted to my birthday party. We were in the school cafeteria and I was talking about how Superman was going to be there. One girl asked how was it possible that Superman would be at my party? I told her Superman was my Dad. And then she burst my bubble.
"How can your father be Superman when Superman is white and your father is Puerto Rican?" she retorted. Ok. She was right, but I didn't want to hear it so I charged her, head first and down on the ground we went.
I was not very well liked in school. I was known as a "momma's girl" and "daddy's princess." I wore glasses and didn't horse around. I'd rather read. Anyway, we rolled around on the ground for a bit while everyone cheered ... for her. And then I heard someone call my name. I heard one sole voice cheering for me ... Dominick D'Avanzo.
That is how we met. He cheered for me right up to his death.
When Dominick and I reconnected in 2009, it was as if we were kids again. We talked about anything and everything. Some people would say a guy and a girl could never be in a platonic friendship but we were. He was there when I released my first novel, Sinner's Ride, and he was on the phone with me when I received an email containing the first mock-up of the cover for Divergent Lives. I named a character after him in that story, for he was instrumental in helping me with fight scenes as well as with the correct lingo cops used in the late 80's.
My heart broke along with his when his sister passed away in December of 2013. He was never really the same after that but he was my go-to person when my brother passed away a year later.
I last spoke with Dominick from the office on Monday, March 23, 2015. It was 5:15 p.m. and I was rushing to finish something before leaving for the day. He asked me when I was going to retire so I could start working on a project we had discussed. I told him that his project would be the first one I'd attack when I did retire and I mentioned that I would be taking a week off to write right after Easter. He said he would call me that Wednesday so that we could pick a date to get together and talk about it some more. We ended our conversation like we always did, with mutual I love you's and I hung up.
Wednesday came and went and I didn't hear from him. I figured he was busy and I planned on calling him that weekend. I got wrapped up in something and didn't call. It was late Sunday, March 29, 2015 when I realized I hadn't talked to him. Little did I know at that point that he had passed away earlier that day.
Eighteen and a half years later, Dominick's passing caused me to remember that conversation with my Dad and I realize how lucky I was. I had a 50 year friendship with someone I respected and loved. We always ended our conversations by exchanging I love you's. Dominick didn't let long periods of time pass before reaching out to me to ask why I hadn't been in touch.
I am a better person for having known him. Everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY loved Dominick. He was a wonderful, loving and dedicated father who absolutely adored his children. He had a hearty laugh and a wicked sense of humor. He was a humble man ready to help anyone in need.
And when he said "I love you," you can bet he meant it.
For me, Dominick was my brother from another mother. Some days I think of him and I smile but mostly I cry. There is so much I want to share with him right now. It's almost a month since he's passed on and it seems like it happened just yesterday. I want to believe he's in a better place.
Thank you for 50 years of friendship my friend. I know you see me. I love you!