Julia Furtado, 17, was best friends with Miguel Franco before they became a couple. She says she will always love him. *Photo by Tim Hall
Julia Furtado, 17, was best friends with Miguel Franco before they became a couple. She says she will always love him. *Photo by Tim Hall
Death and injury come so frequently to Bermuda's roads that it is easy to forget the suffering behind the statistics.
For Julia Furtado, 17, that suffering is all too terribly real. This week the Berkeley Institute student lost the first and only love of her life to a motorcycle accident on Middle Road.
Slowly emerging from her shock and denial, Julia has been able to share her memories of Miguel Franco for the first time. She said: "He was my everything. A lot of people use that term, but I don't think many people understand what everything is.
"He was my best friend, my boyfriend, my family. I would wake him with a text message every morning at 7.40am, and I would talk to him on the phone every night before going to sleep. Between those times, if we weren't together we were thinking of one another."
Julia said that this Friday would have marked two months since she and Miguel, 17, became girlfriend and boyfriend. But before that they had been best friends for over a year.
Julia said: "I always loved Miguel, even before I knew it. Even when we were friends, if I was ill he'd bring me ice cream. He was always doing little things like that. He was so kind and funny. It was impossible to be sad when he was around. If I was feeling down, he would say 'smile like a file.' That was so cheesy, it made me laugh so hard.
"He used to trip over his feet all the time at first because he liked me so much and he was trying to be perfect. I'd say: 'I saw that.' At the beginning he was so shy - at least he kept personal things on the inside. But at last he opened up to me. That's what I was waiting for. Everyone else knew the loud, screaming Miguel, but I got to know the real him."
Went to same church
Like Miguel, Julia's family, who live in Smiths, are originally from Portugal. She and Miguel went to the same church and she was the first girl he ever took to meet his family. Since the accident, Julia and Miguel's family have been in constant contact, helping each other to cope.
She continued: "People will say we were young, but I know it was love. I'd never had a boyfriend before - I'd never let a boy close. But we loved one another. He has family in Canada and they've written to me saying that he spoke about me all the time.
"There are so many ways I know it was love between us. He was so close to his family -- and the fact that he took me to meet them so many times...he said he wanted me to be auntie to his nieces, and I will. I'll look after them for him.
"I've cried so much since he died. But I've smiled just as much, remembering all the little things. Miguel never treated me wrong. I know a lot of boys out here treat girls wrong, but Miguel told me every single day that he loved me. He looked after me, and I know he's still looking over me. Years from now I'll meet someone else. And when I do, I'll know it's because Miguel has sent them, because he wants me to be happy."
Miguel was riding pillion on a motorcycle that crashed into a car and a truck on Friday around midday. Julia said: "I got a text to call home urgently. My mum said: 'Stay calm. I think Miguel and Paul [Miguel's brother] want you to keep them company at the hospital.' I thought: 'Oh, no, Miguel's father must be ill.' I did what my mum said, I drove very carefully to the hospital. I took my time. I went up to the second floor and saw that it was intensive care - I thought: 'This must be wrong.' Then I saw Miguel's sister there and I just started to cry. I cried and cried."
Julia was persuaded to go home and to return to hospital with Miguel's family the next day. She said: "We all sat by his bed. Even though he was sleeping we were sure he could hear us, so we took it in turns to say the little words. I just said: 'Miguel, I love you. That will never change, for better or for worse, I will always love you.' I kept telling him I loved him, over and over."
Again Julia was persuaded to go home for the night. The next day, Sunday, she received phone call from Miguel's sister, Candida, who said simply: "Miguel's gone. God took him away. He's our guardian angel now.'"
Julia, who wants to study to be a nutritionist at college, said: "Miguel had so many friends, and such a close family, and we're all helping each other to remember the good times. We smile about him more often than we cry. But sometimes it's still difficult to know how we are going to cope."
'I've cried so much since he died. But I've smiled just as much, remembering all the little things. He told me every single day he loved me.'
Julia Furtado