By Emily Aguilar
Eastvale – On Oct. 3, Andrew De Leon, Nathan Dominguez, Alex Horta, and Nathaniel Marin all lost their lives in a car crash at 8:40 PM. They grew up together in Eastvale, and their relationship could be compared to that of a brotherhood. In order to formally commemorate the lives of these men, Eleanor Roosevelt High School held a funerary service in the gymnasium on Oct. 15.
The ceremony, named “A Celebration of Life,” began at 7:15 p.m. More than 150 people – family, friends, band members from other schools, and supportive citizens – filled in the chairs placed in the center of the gymnasium. The center stage itself was filled with pictures, toys, stuffed animals, and instruments to honor the memory of each boy. As a melancholy atmosphere began to permeate the room, Father Declan Fogarty began his eulogy by assuring the audience that the boys, all of whom were devoted to God, would no longer suffer as God had “fully transformed them in His image.”
Teachers, friends, parents, and priests spoke in order to recreate the image of the young boys who have passed. Through their words, the audience was reminded of Nathaniel Marin’s perseverance, intelligence, prowess in band and sports, and his warm personality that would befriend the loneliest and most timid individual. The audience giggled at the reminder of Alex Horta’s shy personality, remarkable musical abilities that spoke louder than his words, and unique admiration toward penguins and astronomy. Many began to tear up upon remembering Nathan Dominguez’s spontaneous, humorous personality; and many fell silent to the reminder of Andrew De Leon’s protectiveness, humor, and overall “gentleman-like, caring” persona.
Yet, it was Band Director Michael Fleishman’s words that truly moved the audience. The boys, who participated in the school’s marching band, created the “family” amongst the band members of the school. Fleishman stated that he enjoyed watching them grow up since they first began marching band, and felt that they had truly impacted the lives of their peers as well as his own. During his speech, he stated that he had a picture of all four boys beaming broadly on his desk, and began to cry when he confessed that he has had to suffer the anguish of seeing that picture every day since discovering that the boys died. He paused for a while to control his tears, and continued in a somber but audible voice to confess that he had lost a childhood friend. Like the boys, she was part of marching band with Fleishman, and had also died in a car accident. Unfortunately, he never said a proper goodbye to her, but through prayer, he was able to feel the closure he couldn’t give to his friend during their lifetime. He persuaded families and friends to pray for the four boys in order to feel the closure they couldn’t have while the boys were alive.
The ceremony ended with a slideshow of the boys throughout their lives. The pictures showed their accomplishments, their families, but most notably, the visible love that held the four boys together.
As the final pictures appeared on the screen, the audience finally broke down into loud, sorrowful cries that filled the room. Although the ceremony had ended, many stayed to mourn for the boys and support one another. There were those who cried, some that tried to convince others to be strong, but overall, they understood that the four boys had followed one another into the afterlife to claim “a friendship that will last forever,” and with that idea alone, many were content.