Four days before his 13th birthday, senior Raymond Contreras experienced a tragedy. His father, Raymond Estrada Contreras, was murdered along with his friend. They both suffered stab and gunshot wounds and were pronounced dead at the hospital on March 17, 2013.
“It was unbelievable to me,” Contreras wrote in a personal essay. “I felt empty and lost, knowing someone took my dad’s life just a few days before my birthday.”
That day, Contreras was out buying food at 2 a.m. when he heard an ambulance pass by but did not think much of it. Although there was no evidence on whether or not that ambulance rang for his father, the wailing of sirens has haunted him ever since.
“My mom called me to her room and told me [what happened to my dad],” Contreras said. “I [cried] and I was mad too. You just don’t want someone to pass away like that. It was a lot of anger, sadness, [and] emotions built up inside, and I just didn’t know how to show it so I would cry a lot.”
Contreras had a hard time expressing his feelings and bottled up his emotions. He went to counseling sessions to help him overcome this situation, but the talks became more and more tiring for him.
“[It was] my mom [who helped and comforted] me. It hit her hard too, but she knew how to talk to me,” Contreras said.
Although his parents were divorced, Contreras still kept in touch with his dad. Because Estrada Contreras was a basketball coach, he became an influence for Contreras’ adoration of sports.
“The times I got to spend time with him [were] not very often, but every time I did, I cherished and appreciated [them] a lot,” Contreras said.
Sports became one of the ways that they spent time together. Even now, Contreras connects sports to memories of his dad. He wishes he would have spent more time with him and expressed his feelings to him.
“I wish I would have told him I love him, but I didn’t say it as much as I should have,” Contreras said.
Despite his childhood trauma, Contreras still looks for ways to deal with his father’s death.
“Everyone’s going to go through a hard time in their [lives],” Contreras said. “You just have to find a way to get through it.”