Personal Column: Rosales leaves lasting mark on lives of many

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Damian Rosales leaves lasting mark on those around him. (submitted photo)

Damian Rosales leaves lasting mark on those around him. (submitted photo)
Damian Rosales leaves lasting mark on those around him. (submitted photo)

It was a Monday night, and a rumor was circulating on Twitter and Instagram about the apparent death of a fellow senior. Students started sending messages to each other concerning the condition of their classmate. It was a prominent name, and I know that somewhere, somehow, I have encountered this boy. When the gossip was finally confirmed late at night that he has passed away, my Twitter timeline exploded with tweets of condolence and loss.  It was Damian Rosales.

I didn’t sleep well that night, knowing that I’ve met this person before. I couldn’t believe it, no one could. Everyone was just praying that he comes to school the next day, and proves everyone wrong.

The sun crept in the next day. As in a ritual, the students head to their first block, but the feeling was different for Ms. Cartmell’s class. As soon as the tardy bell rang, it seemed as though the students have lost their hope, for there were still no signs of Damian. He had to be marked absent, and everybody wished the check mark only meant that he wasn’t present for that day only. But everyone knew that this absence meant forever.

It was still unreal to me as I walked in Ms. Cartmell’s class. I didn’t want to believe it until Dr. Strunc silently knocked on her door, and I opened it. She was in tears. I just stood there, frozen, not knowing what to do while still holding the door wide open. Ms. Cartmell had to close the door for me while she consoled Dr. Strunc. Minutes later, it was confirmed.

He’s gone. Forever.

I remembered not letting go of the door handle like the way I didn’t want to forget how I first met the precious boy. It was at the beginning of the school year when students were still looking for their lunch buddies. He saw a familiar face at my table and didn’t hesitate to approach them quickly. A good friend of mine who was also his buddy introduced Damian to me.

My first impressions of him were something that I don’t usually see from other people.  He seemed like the life of the party, and he’s definitely carefree. He ate lunch with us for a few days until his schedule got changed, and that was the last time I’ve talked to him. There was never a dull moment during those 30-minute lunch breaks with him; perhaps, we were even the loudest table laughing at his jokes and witty remarks. There is something about his quirkiness that made him unique.

I remember how he always made fun of my name for its exceptional length, so he would call me a different name each day. Damian also knew about my nationality, and he never failed to tell me how much he adored Manny Pacquiao, a famous Filipino boxer.  Making people happy came naturally to him. All those days, he did nothing but rub his good vibes onto us.

I didn’t know Damian personally, but I am very lucky indeed to have met him before he left this world unexpectedly. I have heard many stories about him from my friends especially about his health. He had heart conditions, yet he still seemed to be such a normal, young boy. He was a very bubbly person. You could not see any sign of pain in his eyes. Just like every teenage boy, he wanted a girlfriend, was a boxer, was also involved in DECA and had dreams of becoming successful in the marketing world someday. He didn’t let his condition hinder his goals in life and strove to be someone that others look up to.

Any death at a very young age is a tragedy, but this has been particularly devastating for the class of 2014 especially now that we have lost two graduating seniors. It’s extremely overwhelming.

Nonetheless, it’s amazing how one person can have such a huge impact on people’s lives. Damian is a person that always turned everyone’s frown upside down, the epitome of someone who lived life to the fullest. A person whose aura was as radiant as the sun, he spread nothing but positivity, and everybody will always remember him for that.

We will never understand why people with so much potential are taken away unexpectedly, but knowing that he is in a better place and is probably spreading more smiles makes it all bittersweet. We may not know it, but every single one of us has a purpose in this world. Damian has fulfilled his, leaving a mark on all of us that will never be forgotten. Duncanville will not be the same without him. His legacy still lives.

Rest in Paradise, Damian. The senior class of 2014 will never forget you. You’vefinally meet our other angel, Tasmia. Both of you are greatly missed. We are graduating for you.