Courtesy of Marian Romero-Medina.

From left to right, Marian’s great uncle, Salvador Franco Rizo, her grandma Gloria Franco Rizo, and her great aunt, Maximalia Franco Rizo pose for a picture in front of Ostioneria Bahia Mexican and Seafood restaurant located in Tustin. Photo taken September 24, 2018.

Everything Happened All of a Sudden

May 20, 2021

Going into an online-only senior year of high school was odd and strange for senior Marian Romero-Medina. Her school and family life seemed to be going well— that is, until she lost multiple loved ones. 

Her great aunt and uncle, Maximalia Franco Rizo, 65, and Salvador Franco Rizo, 69, both passed away in December 2020 due to COVID-19.

“My uncle was a hardworking man and cared for my mom and my siblings. My aunt was really a fighter,” said Romero-Medina.

Romero-Medina said that her aunt had it worse due to her health conditions, however, both were hospitalized and made it past quarantine. That is why, both of their deaths were unexpected and shocking.

There are so many fond memories that Romero-Medina shared with her great aunt and uncle but one that she will never forget was her 16th birthday. 

“I remember it was a rainy day. We ate and laughed. Little did I know that it would have been our last time together as a family,” said Romero-Medina.

To compound that loss, she lost her uncle, Jorge Sergio Franco, 36, and his husband, Edwin Giovanni Gutierrez, 46, in a car accident at Las Vegas, a couple months later in March.

From left to right, Jorge Sergio Franco and Marian Romero-Medina at her first communion party. Photo taken May 14, 2011.

They were coming home from North Hollywood when a man, driving under the influence, struck them making a left turn. 

“My uncles were the brightest souls and were always there for my siblings and I when we needed it the most. So, knowing that they took care of themselves during the pandemic and having them pass away from a car accident seems surreal,” said Romero-Medina.

Healing takes time, a lot of time. But, for Romero-Medina, it came along with a lesson. 

“Losing them just showed me that I have to make as many memories as I can with my family before it’s too late,” added Romero-Medina. 

“This past year has taken a toll on everyone, in some way, and it is too easy to take for granted the lives that we have, so I encourage people to really appreciate their loved ones and tell them how they feel,” concluded Contreras. 

As the June 15 deadline for the reopening of California approaches, the hope and worry is that enough people have been vaccinated so no one else has to go through the loss of a loved one to this terrible virus.

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