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Carlos Fresneda: “We Have To Take The Drama Away From Death And Start Accepting It”

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Alberto Fresneda Carrasco was hit by a train in London while painting graffiti on June 18, 2018. He was just 19 years old. Two more friends, Harry and Jack, also passed away that Sunday. Another preferred to return home minutes earlier. Carlos Fresneda his father and correspondent for Great Britain recounted the tragedy a year later in an emotional book Dear son The Sphere of Books. A way to get ahead.

To drive away from the pain silent but firm to share it, Carlos Fresneda has pulled out of courage again. This time he has gone up on stage to tell it as Gabriel Garcia Marquez titled his memoirs. It was last Tuesday at the Alcazar Theater in Madrid, within the Diario Vivo cycle. The pain leaves you speechless and without strength. You just want to shut up and cry, the journalist read before the audience that filled the venue keeping the safety regulations. But far from drama, with integrity and determination, the journalist and writer concluded. We must take the drama away from death and begin to accept it as an inevitable part of life as a new beginning.

How easy to say. In between, Carlos Fresneda and his wife, Isabel Carrasco, have not been alone. Not only because they have two more children, Miguel and Julio; also because they continue to have the support of people like Mercè Castro, who lost a son in an accident. This woman achieved enough integrity to relating her ordeal in  Live Again She gave me a valuable lesson.

There is good news that I want to share, and that is that a son never dies, said Carlos Fresneda. Psychologists often speak of the five phases of grief denial anger, negotiation, depression, and acceptance. I have dared to add a sixth phase reunion, which sometimes occurs magically added Carlos Fresneda before an audience that followed his words without blinking. It happened to be the summer when Alberto died. The first sensation was in Hampstead Heath, the park where he stayed with his friends and where his ashes now rest. I began to feel my son as a comforting sun and to recognize him in all graffiti that comes my way in any city in the world.

Writing about his son Alberto has been the best therapy for Carlos Fresneda. And a way to get closer to him, to get to the bottom of that indomitable adolescent that he became, to try to understand his reasons and to discover at the same time facets that I did not even suspect. It was the most difficult investigation of my life”.Alberto Fresneda, Alby for friends, born in New York shortly before the fall of the Twin Towers, was a video artist, ‘ disc jockey a budding tattoo artist, invented fashion designs, fantasized about his own brand (Hugh Future), he drew comics and, like so many kids of his generation, he fulfilled the initiation rite of graffiti his father recalled. Alberto, Alby, signed as Trip.

The motto ‘It hurts to tell it but it hurts more not to tell it has been the script that Carlos Fresneda goes through. In fact, a new book is being proposed that would include similar stories, such as that of the family of Ignacio Echevarria, the skateboard hero the young man from Madrid who, for defending a woman from a jihadist attack in London in 2017, ended up being assassinated by another terrorist. Or the case of Ben Goldsmith, the British environmental philanthropist, who lost his daughter Iris at the age of 15. With Ignacio’s father, Joaquín, and with Ben Goldsmith Carlos Fresneda maintains close emotional ties. Other stories were also told last Wednesday.

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The pedagogue Anabel Lorente recounted how she ended up being devoured by the jaws of social networks, the psychologist Patricia Fernandez Martin detailed her telephone assistance to relatives of COVID patients, the journalist Diane Cambon spoke of her mother’s relationship with paranormal phenomena, the photographer A Antonio Pérez Río gave an account of how tourists look at the works of the Louvre Museum through their mobile phones, the journalist Juan Cruz recalled how Garcia Marquez was losing his memory and the reporter Sandrine Morelia spoke of the difficult relationship with his mother, who is convinced that the virus is the product of a conspiracy. Like life itself

The pandemic has left us with a sense of collective grief. We have all surely lost a loved one or a close friend in these months. And what are worse many have not even been able to say goodbye to them? That tearing and aching to feel is even greater when we can’t say goodbye. Or when we say goodbye without knowing that it will be the last time, as it happened with my son Alberto on Sunday, June 18, 2018, days after turning 19. He went out for a walk in the afternoon and did not return. We left messages on his mobile and he did not respond. We spent the night in suspense. We console ourselves by thinking that he stayed to sleep at a friend’s house.

The next day, when I went out to buy at the supermarket my colleague from the newspaper called me, Alberto like him Have you seen. Three men are killed by the train to South London. A sad local event I thought, with the cold mind of the correspondent I have been for thirty years. The scene of the accident was far from home and I did not know how to make the personal connection. But the phone started ringing and ringing. His friends kept asking, Where is Alby (that’s what they called him)? My concern grew and hours later they called for the intercom. It was the police. Are you Alberto Fresneda’s father? We regret to inform you that he is one of the three young people who died last night while doing graffiti on the train tracks.

The pain leaves you speechless. You just want to shut up and cry. But someone had to write a family statement about Alberto’s death, which was what the police told us. Suddenly I found myself in the position of recounting as a journalist the death of my son, born in New York shortly before the fall of the Twin Towers, with roots in southern Spain and raised in North London, where he thought he found his place in the world. But the press release fell too short and left a hole in my heart. From the need to fill that void, a letter was sent to Alberto himself, as a farewell. That letter of a couple of pages was published in El Mundo and grew night after night until it became a book, Dear Son.

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There were times when I thought I would not be able to finish it, overwhelmed by emotions. But I decided to move on, faithful to a motto that I repeated to myself. It hurts to tell it, but it hurts more not to tell it.”Writing to him was my best therapy in the end. And also a way to get closer to him, to get to the bottom of that indomitable adolescent that he became, to try to understand his reasons and at the same time discover facets that I did not even suspect. It was the most difficult investigation of my life. Within days of his death, Alberto’s friends gathered to dedicate a street altar to him next to Loughborough Junction station. It was a very special moment, in which I realized how loved my son was by that diverse group that we baptized as the Alby tribes.

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At the end of the emotional act, through tears, someone we did not know told us. There was a fourth graffiti artist with them that night and he escaped in time: he wants to talk to you” …But the days passed and we didn’t hear from him. The wounds were so open that investigating what happened hurt me. It took more than six months for me to sit down and talk with his friends. I thought the best way to do it was one at a time. We started seeing each other on Fridays. We were meeting at a cafe in Camden, Alby’s favorite territory. We used to sit by a window, overlooking the canal. To my surprise, I discovered that from there you could see not one, but two of his tags with his graffiti signature: TRIP. It was as if he introduced us himself and helped us break the ice.

I discovered, to begin with, that he had two girlfriends. Lydia introduced herself as his “widow”, but pulling the thread I knew that the romance did not go beyond her last weeks of life. His soul mate was actually Matilda they had been dating for almost two years and she spoke of him with utter fascination. His bond with Alby reached such a point that the following year he went to study his same visual arts course. I ended up hitting on his best friend, Malik, who liked to joke that they were actually twin brothers, separated in New York at the time of birth. and inseparable since they met again in London. Malik was also the glue that united all his friends, and a great example of compassion and maturity in the face of tragedy.

Akira was Alberto’s best friend until he was 16 years old. The age of friction gave way to the age of danger. “We did a lot of crazy things, but together we had the best experiences of our lives,” recalled Akira, who happened to see him hours before his death. As a tribute, he dedicated a podcast, Buntai Sessions, with his favorite songs and the testimonies of his friends. In the end, there were two months of meetings in the middle of winter, more than twenty interviews that helped me to rediscover my son. As a video artist, as a disc jockey, or as a buddy

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The graffiti artists are joined by a very strong feeling of brotherhood. Over time I have come to appreciate that impulse that leads them to risk their lives and leave their signature on the train tracks. Among them, they are called, and their dream is to reach all the places Alberto undoubtedly fulfilled his objective. After all this time, his ubiquitous TRIP tags haunt me every day when I leave the house, as an eternal reminder of his passage through life  I am also accompanied by the graffiti that his colleagues make using his name to remind him.

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Summoning all his friends and writing him a book was a way to reconnect with him, to recover that gaze of a clever and restless child, and to cut that insurmountable distance that opens between parents and children in adolescence, when they have to rebel. My wife, Isabel, helped to heal the wounds with a beautiful epilogue that also had some family reunion, which was joined by my other two children, Miguel and Julio, who have endured the trauma with enviable integrity. Psychologists often talk about the 5 phases of grief denial, anger, negotiation, depression, and acceptance. I have dared to add a sixth phase the reunion, which sometimes occurs magically.

It happened to me the summer Alberto died. The first sensation was in Hampstead Heath, the park where he used to meet his friends and where his ashes now rest. Since then I have always felt my son as a comforting sun, as inner strength. And I have come to recognize him in all the graffiti that comes my way in any city in the world. Along this path, I have met many parents who have found themselves in their own way with their children. I became friends with Joaquín, the father of Ignacio Echeverria, the skateboard hero who lost his life in the London Bridge bombing.

I spoke with Laura, the sister of my sister-in-law Ana, who lived for five years with her son also Ignacio fearing that each day could be the last due to an incurable disease. I called Mercè Castro, the author of who lost her son Ignasi in a traffic accident and she gave me the most valuable lesson I have received in all this time there is good news that I want to share, and it is that a son never dies. At this point, I have good news for you. we must remove the drama from death and begin to accept it as an inevitable part of the cycle of life, as a new beginning. The pain we have felt these months has to give way to a deep appreciation for all that we still have. Our loved ones are still alive, very alive, inside us.

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