October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Read and share stories to honor survivors whose lives have been changed by domestic violence.

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Maria Climaco

In honor of Aya Raphael Climaco-Nakano

AYA RAPHAEL CLIMACO-NAKANO

My heart.
An only child – a blessing, a gift – Aya was born on June 13, 1990. Aya was and is my hugs and kisses. He would always want me to hold his hand when seated in his car seat, while we sang to songs played when I’m driving.

My smile.
Aya went to high school at Sacred Heart Prep in Atherton where he was beloved and known by his peers to be funny, warm, genuine and compassionate. Aya was also known as a sports enthusiast, a loyal Golden State Warriors fan long before they were champs. In fact, he predicted Stephen Curry was going to be a force to reckon with when he was newly drafted by the Warriors.

Aya’s compassion is legendary, whereby he started a petition for a classmate whom he thought was treated unfairly. He would stand up and do what is right, especially for his friends. So beloved is Aya that the school has a scholarship that bears his name (courtesy of Aya’s classmate’s family).

My purpose.
On June 12, 2013, Aya was tragically taken away from us. He was a recent graduate of the University of Oregon where he majored in Sociology. He aspired to work in the sports industry eventually, but was recently promoted in his first job right out of college at a logistics firm.

Aya was on his way home from a pickup basketball game at the UC Berkeley Rec Center when he was rear-ended. He got out of his car to exchange insurance information when he was fatally shot – an hour away from what would have been his 23rd birthday, merely three miles away from home.

The perpetrators are still at large, but I remain hopeful that someday soon justice will be served – not to a mother whose heart remains shattered into a gazillion pieces, not to family and friends whose lives would never be the same again, but for the most wonderful, amazing human being who was just starting out and robbed of the endless possibilities life has to offer. A young man whose smile could light up a room, whose joyful character served as an anchor and conduit to many meaningful friendships, a young man who brought so much heart into this world, caused many a smile and laughter to all who met him, who was and is forever my pride, joy and purpose….

Aya Raphael Climaco-Nakano. You are painfully missed EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

I wish with all my heart that it was me instead of you…
To not have a smile and purpose anymore hurts beyond words…

Until we see each other again… Always, Mom.

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