Friendship lost and recovered just in time!

marlon and angel

John-Marlon had many acquaintances in his life, but very few true friends. One of his most profound friendships was with someone who was also one of my very good friends. Back in 1996 I had a friend by the name of Angel, and coincidentally he was also Marlon’s really good friend too. Although I knew Marlon for years we never spoke to each other. Marlon was actually friend’s with my ex-boyfriend – I know….scandalous! Before your imagination runs wild, I was single for 2 years before we became a couple.

Angel use to have the best house parties…I think he had one every other weekend. At those parties, I use to show up with my still best friend Carol – and Marlon always seemed to have a different girl on his arms. The girls always looked the same…beautiful, tiny waist, and worthy of being put on a storefront window as a mannequin. We never, ever spoke during Angel’s parties…nor did we ever say hello to one another. We were so different. I was hip-hop, he was cumbia!

At Marlon’s memorial celebration, Angel spoke of memories of his dear friend and although in Spanish, he had the entire room cracking up because his story was so heartfelt and ridiculously funny that the laughter was contagious in the room. I hope to share on a future post.

Due to Marlon’s Aspergers he was very black and white and there was absolutely no gray with him. It was hard for him to connect with people unless it was in a sports or social environment that did not require a lot of talking. So many people had the wrong perception of Marlon, just as I did when I would see him at Angel’s parties. Marlon wore his heart on his sleeve, it was his way or no way, he had absolutely no filter, was obsessive about his passions, and sometimes his honesty was too much for most to handle. Many questioned why Angel would put up with Marlon’s difficult personality. Angel would always come to his defense and brush off people by saying “you just don’t understand him.”

When Marlon was diagnosed with Aspergers in 2010, the first call he made after we left the clinic was to Angel. He was very emotional and could not believe that he was on the Autism Spectrum just like our son. He shared with Angel that although shocked to receive such a diagnosis – he was happy that he finally had a name for his his way of being. He reflected back to his childhood as he spoke to his friend… his eyes welled up with tears – knowing it now all made sense. I watched from the passenger seat wondering if I had made a mistake pushing him to get a diagnosis.

Angel and John-Marlon were friends for almost 20 years, but they were more like brothers. As we blossomed into adulthood we went on vacations together, spent holidays as a family, and as Angel’s wife Kathy put it, we are a couple of 4 people not of 2. We were inseparable.

The moment the clock struck midnight and everyone cheered for the New Year (2012), I ran into Angel and Kathy’s bathroom and locked myself in and cried uncontrollably. I didn’t even hug my family as I was completely broken and sad. Once Kathy convinced me to let her in the bathroom, I yelled in tremendous pain that Marlon had Cancer, even though he had not been diagnosed yet – but I knew it! We both cried and hugged each other as if he had already passed away. I knew in my heart that we had a tough fight ahead of us.

As the months passed by , Marlon became weaker and I became stronger. I began to workout and eat extremely healthy. I joined a fitness team and adapted a totally new lifestyle. John-Marlon cheered me every step of the way- he was so proud of me. He couldn’t work out, but he didn’t allow me into bed unless I had completed mine.

As I was posting my every move on facebook, some people did not quite understand my new found passion for fitness in the midst of my husband’s illness. Angel and his family became overly concerned that perhaps my lifestyle was taking time away from John-Marlon whose health was declining by the day. I was so devastated by the amount of people that were offended by me taking 1 hour a day for myself that it began to take an emotional toll. Marlon was livid that anyone would judge me when I working a full time job, was fighting a school district, was his driver and care-giver and parented 3 kids. He insisted that the sweetest revenge for anyone that had something negative to say was for me to go to Vegas for a Beachbody conference with my fitness team so that I can really piss people off. I refused to go, but he insisted that if I didn’t go, I was not living my life with purpose just as he wanted me to. He even helped me pick out my outfits for the trip.

We were in a very fragile place, and were beginning to tap into our faith, and we were confused about who were the toxic people in our lives, and who were those that were merely concerned. Because we could not clearly identify the good from the bad, we severed ties with anyone that said anything that weighed heavy on us – and that included Angel and Kathy. Marlon was very protective of me, and if he felt that someone hurt my feelings, he wanted nothing to do with them. 20 years of friendship was flushed down the toilet. We went without our friendship from April 2012 through January 2013.

Pride from both sides prevented the relationship from mending sooner; however, when I knew that Marlon had limited time, I called Angel to tell him that we needed to fix this as soon as possible. Kathy reminded me that we will always remain a couple of 4!

In those final months, Angel was a true angel to his friend. Angel came over and watched sports with Marlon, just as Marlon had taught him to learn to appreciate. They went to the movies and to eat together, but as Marlon’s health dramatically declined, that was when their friendship really showed its true colors.

In Marlon’s final weeks, Angel would come to our house and as if it was part of his visiting duties, he would shave him, and would apply lotion to his hands and put Marlon’s feet on his lap and massage them for what seemed like hours. There was a silent exchange of gratitude. Marlon would direct Angel and tell him where he enjoyed Angel’s touch the most….but Angel would respond with I will do whatever you want but I don’t give happy endings. It was hilarious! I thought the massages were as intimate as two friends could get, until I witnessed one of the most beautiful bonds between friends that I had ever seen.

I was the only person allowed to help Marlon with a bath, but on this particular day, he looked at Angel and said “Angel help me take a bath”. This makes me quite emotional, because I know why Marlon did it. Marlon wanted Angel to be at peace with the lost time that had passed by – to know that there were no hard feelings. Angel had never seen how fragile John-Marlon was up until this point. Only I knew what he looked like beneath his clothing. When Angel pulled off Marlon’s shirt, I could see the look of sadness and pain on his face even though he tried to hide it. With the most gentle hands and care, Angel lathered his hands and washed his old friend’s hair, and continued on to his fragile skeletal body. Marlon was still wearing his underwear, and warned Angel to not even think about washing his privates…we all laughed and it broke the awkward silence. As Angel took a bucket and poured it over Marlon’s head you could see the joy it brought to both of their hearts to experience this simple pleasure. As water trickled down Marlon’s face, his tremendous smile and his big eyes that showcased his beautiful green eyes projected so much love and gratitude for the friendship that will always remain.

20 Responses to “Friendship lost and recovered just in time!

  • Touching, amazing, beautiful & inspirational! Your story should be on lifetime! Pour your heart out girl! ; )

  • Kenia, thank you for sharing your story. As I finished reading I thought of the story of Jesus washing his disciples feet but in your story it wasn’t about washing his feet but more about friends washing away there pride and being blessed.

    Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet

    10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

    12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

    • Jesus washing his disciples feet is exactly what I was thinking about. This is so powerful – the Lord is using this entire situation in way that are beyond what we would have ever thought or imagined.

  • It’s truly inspiring that despite all Marlon and you went through he always had your best interest at heart. And I love the fact that despite the time away from his friend they picked up as if nothing had happened. Not many are blessed like Marlon to have friends like Angel! Love you Amiga!

  • What a beautiful gesture of true friendship. I’m so glad you were all able to reconnect.

  • The truest friends we have are those who are always there thru thick and thin. Those who forgive. Those whom time doesnt change their love and friendship. It’s beautiful thing . You guys are lucky to have each other in your lives. Great post. True friendship.

  • Wow. The power of LOVE.

    I was so moved by all the folks who shared about their experience with John Marlon. I never had the opportunity to meet him and am grateful for all the shares.

  • I miss my friend ……..

  • The actions of his friend Angel is a true testament to the man John-Marlon was! When you are good and pure with love those you surround yourself are or will be. This is a precious gift to have this friend as a part of your lives now and always. Actually this shows he is not a friend he is family xoxoxoxo

  • I feel like i live these moments w you w your amazing storytelling skills. Please write a book. And thank u for helping me to appreciate the now.

  • I can always count on you for a good morning cry. Some people go a lifetime without one true friend. Marlon was incredibly blessed to have this unbreakable friendship. Now that’s special. Thanks for sharing.

  • What is your true life story not many believe to be reality. We read books and watch movies of things like this but we never think this is happening to someone in real life. It really is unfortunate that you had to learn all these life lessons through such heartache and pain. I for one feel I love you the great big enormous heart you have and I am a strong believer that God placed you exactly where you needed to be in John Marlon’s life so he can show you life and you can carry his on forever. Your inspiring and showing how to trust in God more than anything.

  • On my lunch break balling my eyes out. Kenia your words are so beautifully writren. You really take yiur readers to your time and place. As if it was captured in a picture. Your memories are precious.

  • Your story we tend to believe it only happens in books and movies. Unfortunately you had to live this story with heartache and pain, but from your heart pouring out I strongly believe John Marlon showed you how to live so that in return you can carry out his life forever. Gods plans are so unclear to those that don’t believe in his word, he places us right where we should be and he has placed you in the right place and because of your enormous loving sincere heart you are now showing people like me how to appreciate life to the fullest and appreciate the people around me. There is no everlasting on earth but surely you teach us that in heaven there is infinity. Thank you for sharing with us such personal and sentimental feelings – I love you girl. You have the luckiest kids.

  • Bawling **

  • I miss my you ” Compi “

  • How beautiful the power of love and forgiveness.

  • A masterpiece friendship of a lifetime..

  • This teaches us so many lessons. Your post are amazing. God bless.

  • That was beautiful, it reminds me of my brother’s last days that he would do anything with us just to spend time with us. So he could leave with the memory of our touch he surrendered to all of us around him taking care of him. Thank you for sharing your posts– thank you for being so inspirational. God bless you and your family…

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